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Spaghetti Strainer Helmet Driver's License Photo Approved On Religious Grounds (immortal.org) 518

PolygamousRanchKid writes with the news (widely reported, here an excerpt from the story as carried by Immortal News) that [i]n the Massachusetts city of Lowell, a woman identifying herself as a follower of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM), otherwise known as Pastafarianism, has been approved by the state's Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) to wear a spaghetti strainer on top of her head in her state issued driver's ID. The approval to wear the helmet was initially denied. However, citing religious grounds, Lowell resident Lindsay Miller filed an appeal. Following intervention by the American Humanist Association's Appignani Humanist Legal Center, the RMV reversed their decision and allowed her to put on her colander and get her driver's license picture taken. According to the church's website, while there are those who perceive the religion to be satirical in nature, it "doesn't change the fact that by any standard one can come up with" the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is "as legitimate as any other" religion. Asks PolygamousRanchKid: "Now what about my tinfoil hat . . . ?"
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Spaghetti Strainer Helmet Driver's License Photo Approved On Religious Grounds

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  • Scientology (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 15, 2015 @02:18PM (#50935543)

    If a tax evation group makes a billion and a half dollars on the idea that depression is caused by the souls of aliens tormenting the world than some crap like the spaghetti monster is not really surprising.

  • Not sincerely held (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ed Tice ( 3732157 ) on Sunday November 15, 2015 @02:25PM (#50935553)
    If the religion is sincerely held, accommodation should be made. However a DMV cannot possible evaluate the sincerity. It seems that the correct approach is to allow the photo. Later if the person gets stopped for a traffic violation and isn't wearing their spaghetti strainer, that should be grounds to investigate and charge them with fraud if it were a sham.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 15, 2015 @02:37PM (#50935609)

      The Church's beliefs only require the colander for official photos. It's not everyday headwear, it's special-occasion headwear.

      • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Sunday November 15, 2015 @03:18PM (#50935817) Homepage

        The Church's beliefs only require the colander for official photos. It's not everyday headwear, it's special-occasion headwear.

        Now you tell me.

      • The government can infringe on religion as long as it serves a legitimate government purpose (to be able to properly verify drivers licenses) and is tailored narrowly to achieve those ends with minimum infringement. So I guess the Pastafarians can provide their own non-official photo that meets the DMV requirements (without the spaghetti strainer) or, if none is available, they'll have to get a standard DMV photo. That makes the situation a lot easier since this is clearly narrowly tailored. However, if
        • by prefec2 ( 875483 ) on Sunday November 15, 2015 @03:58PM (#50936001)

          The problem with this is, there is no sincerity test for religion available, as a religion can state any number of weird things and their followers believe only in a part of it or violate rules on purpose or because of ignorance. For example Catholics (at least in Europe) they use condoms. This is not really allowed especially not when having sex with different people. So total commitment is not a necessary criteria. And as they do joke about their religion, this cannot be a criteria either. If you look at the Discordianists, part of their believe is it to make fun of believes (including their own). And Christians believe that a cookie wafer is a part of their beloved god or symbol for his body and that they have to eat it in remembrance. So in the end you have to accept any weirdo with any hat like thing as long as the face is visible..

          • Yes which is why the courts have difficult jobs. But they do it all the time. I've pointed out the cases in other posts. Asylum requests, draft dodging, et cetera.
          • The magic wafer is mostly confined to catholics.

            It's still a pretty weird religion to outsiders. The central idea is that God had to sacrifice himself to himself in order to appease his sense of justice, otherwise he would have to burn everyone in hell for eternity because they violated rules that he wrote.

            • The magic wafer is mostly confined to catholics.

              It's still a pretty weird religion to outsiders. The central idea is that God had to sacrifice himself to himself in order to appease his sense of justice, otherwise he would have to burn everyone in hell for eternity because they violated rules that he wrote.

              The magic wafer is mostly confined to catholics.

              The difference is that Catholics believe in transubstantiation, i.e. the bread and wine become literally the body and blood of Christ. Protestants just take them as symbols.

      • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Sunday November 15, 2015 @09:35PM (#50937357) Journal

        I'm a Christian, and Pastafarianism is mocking aspects of people who share my general corner of the religious world, and I'm just fine with that. Not only do some of my fellow believers sometimes act in ways that deserve mocking, we often do it ourselves (at least friendly mocking.) And more importantly, by doing things like this, Pastafarians are protecting other minority religious beliefs and practices. The US Army still hasn't quite figured out how to cope with Sikhs wearing turbans (and sometimes they even have trouble with Orthodox Jews, even army chaplains, because they violate critical military doctrines about gentlemen not wearing hats indoors), the TSA harassed them because they're different even before they decided to start harassing other hat-wearers, schools don't let students wear head-scarves (or mini-skirts) because that's Not How Proper American Girls Dress, Muslim-hating idiots beat up Sikhs, the list goes on.

        I attended Quaker meetings for a few years, and we'd occasionally get the question about those hats the oatmeal-box guy wears. Quakerism came from England, where it's beastly cold and rainy and Anglos are prone to male pattern baldness, and moved to Pennsylvania and New England where it's also beastly cold and rainy much of the year, and many of them believed in wearing plain durable clothing instead of wearing flashy stuff to draw attention to themselves. But English social custom and legal practice was big on forcing lower-class people to acknowledge the importance of higher-class people, and taking off hats to your betters (especially government officials and nobility) was a big part of that, and Quakerism believes very radically in equality, so Quakers would often get thrown in jail for not taking off their hats around their betters. I wear hats to keep my head warm (as an Anglo who went bald early), and when my beard was longer I could pass for Orthodox if I was wearing a dark suit and a hat.

        Back when the TSA were new, they didn't make people take off hats or coats in security lines, but out here at San Jose airport, the main people who wore them were Mexicans wearing cowboy hats heading down to Mexico, and the TSA were the white guys who'd replaced the previous mostly-immigrant screeners, and they decided to make a local rule telling the Mexicans to take their hats off. My first reaction was "if they tried this at LaGuardia the Hasidim would been in the mayor's office in an hour telling him to fire the bigot who thought up that nonsense", but as a Quaker I felt I ought to argue with them because they're clearly just doing it to bully people, and I was successful at making it difficult for them to avoid the bigotry issue for a while.

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      Then they will just claim their religion only requires they wear the helment when posing for photos. "Sorry you need to provide me with a spaghetti strainer before we can take these mug shots"/.

      There is no good solution to the problem.

      • There may or may not be a good solution for a really determined prankster. However, the courts have historically handled these situations without a problem. They evaluate not the belief itself but the sincerity with which it is held. There may be sincere Pastafarians out there and if they can be accommodated easily, we might as well do it. However, if it is a sham, there should be a penalty. Courts are used to tricky cases. I'm not a lawyer.
      • It would be interesting to see a case come up where the plaintiff insists that there be no photo on the driver's license at all due to a sincere belief that a camera steals the subject's soul.

        Of course, that belief needs to be wrapped up in a religious sounding name, perhaps something along the lines of Great Spiritism or something else tying it to a traditional Native American religion.

    • The little things (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Sunday November 15, 2015 @03:16PM (#50935809) Homepage Journal

      Later if the person gets stopped for a traffic violation and isn't wearing their spaghetti strainer, that should be grounds to investigate and charge them with fraud if it were a sham.

      And why is this? Why should the DMV care, why should the police be on the lookout for this, and why should society embroil someone's life in the legal system over something that has no effect on anyone, whatsoever?

      People seem to think that we need to uphold some sort of justice against the *intent* of some rule or another(*).

      Why bother? Can't we just let little things go?

      (*) The one that comes to mind first is the "If you can't be bothered to vote, you can't comment on the voting proceedings [wordpress.com]", but there are others. People seem caught up in enforcing some sort of "just universe" [wikipedia.org], and take it to absurd extremes.

      • There are two reasons. Because if you commit fraud, you should be prosecuted for fraud. That's pretty easy to understand. The second is that, if we don't prosecute the frauds, DMV will be overloaded with ridiculous requests. The next person will insist that they have to wear a Mario Brothers costume. And then it will be a competition who can be the most innane.
        • by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Sunday November 15, 2015 @03:50PM (#50935951) Homepage Journal

          There are two reasons. Because if you commit fraud, you should be prosecuted for fraud. That's pretty easy to understand.

          And here I thought we prosecuted fraud because of the damage it does to others.

          You can't sue someone unless you can show damages. Shouldn't the legal system work the same way?

          Are we to completely circumscribe behaviour now, prosecuting things that have no effect on others whatsoever, based on a petty definition?

          • That's not my preferred method at all. I would argue that if somebody really wants to wear a kitchen utensil in their photo, since it doesn't cause any harm, we should let them do so. And if they make this argument, I will support them. If they make the disingenuous argument that they are doing it due to a sincerely held religious belief and they have no such belief, I can't support it. Nobody is requiring maintaining the same level of belief. Only that it was sincerely held at the time that applicatio
            • If they make the disingenuous argument that they are doing it due to a sincerely held religious belief and they have no such belief, I can't support it.

              Who cares if you support it? The topic of discussion is if the government should care enough to enforce "fraud" laws where no one is possibly affected. Driving on left side of road in the US is dangerous for practical reasons, colander is not. Does that have to be spelled out for you?

    • Investigation and fraud? Why? Are we never allowed to change our beliefs once they are 'sincerely held'?

      Accommodation should never be made exclusively on religious grounds. First, it is not fair and secondly it puts the state in the rather uncomfortable position of evaluating the legitimacy of a religion.

      • The state already has the apparatus to do this. If I apply for asylum because I'm a Christian in a Muslim country, I have to provide evidence. If I want to get out of the draft (when we have it) because war is against my religion, I have to prove it. This happens all the time. The more accommodation that you request, the more proof that is asked. The courts do not evaluate legitimacy of a religion. They evaluate the sincerity with which individuals hold their beliefs. You're right that the courts sho
    • by roca ( 43122 )

      Courts can evaluate whether a belief is sincerely held. This happens frequently, e.g. in perjury cases. So the DMV could require the applicant to swear that the belief is sincerely held, and then in cases (like this one) where it obviously isn't, they can take the person to court to make an example of them.

    • A religion could easily just require it for photographs.

      Also ignoring that, if some Muslim girl took off the shit forced on her by her community once she drove her car far enough away would you really want to sue her for fraud?

  • I'm kinda torn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday November 15, 2015 @02:26PM (#50935561)

    I don't know if making fun of a delusion is worth looking like a dork on your driver's license.

    • by Anonymous Coward
    • Even without a colander, I look like a dork on my driver's license...
      • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Sunday November 15, 2015 @09:01PM (#50937229) Journal

        My first one looked like I had a beard - I didn't back then, it's was just really bad lighting at the DMV. (And one of my recent DLs said I needed to be wearing glasses - I don't need them for distance, and didn't use them for the eye test, but I put them back on to read the forms.)

        What you really need as a driver's license photo is one that shows you looking like you're extremely tired and someone's shining a flashlight in your face, because that's how a cop will really see you. If that includes wearing a colander on your head, then go for it.

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Sunday November 15, 2015 @06:01PM (#50936585)

      I don't know if making fun of a delusion is worth looking like a dork on your driver's license.

      Are you somehow implying that there exists a person in this world who actually looks good on their driver's licence photo?
      They mustn't have followed the instructions of stare straight ahead, empty your brain, and try to look like you just murdered your whole family.

  • by WSOGMM ( 1460481 ) on Sunday November 15, 2015 @02:27PM (#50935567)
    Now she'll have *no chance* at talking herself out of a ticket when a cop pulls her over and looks at her drivers license.
    • Now she'll have *no chance* at talking herself out of a ticket when a cop pulls her over and looks at her drivers license.

      This religious persecution will not stand, man.

  • so devote panty-raiders can wear silk lace panties on their head for picture?

  • by dhaen ( 892570 ) on Sunday November 15, 2015 @02:57PM (#50935715)
    As some religions..
  • ... when someone can look at an idea whose sole purpose of existing was to illustrate how ludicrous it should be that intelligent design be taught in classrooms, and then start to actually take it seriously, like it is supposed to be a real religion.

    In fact, taking the whole FSM idea seriously, and trying to espouse it as if it were a real religion completely undermines the point that Bobby Henderson was trying to make about teaching intelligent design in classrooms in the first place, using the idea of

    • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Sunday November 15, 2015 @03:11PM (#50935789)

      Wanting to make fun of other people's religions and laugh at them for being superstitious is one thing, and not wanting to have intelligent design taught in schools is fine, but then turning around and calling that whole idea a religion of its own that deserves to be taken seriously by society seems nothing less than self-defeating.

      You're not getting it. This case (the colander on the head) is pointing out the absurdity of "god makes me wear this" headware generally, and of state-government-level capricious laws/policies with respect to it in particular.

      The only way to point out how ridiculous religion is, is to do something just as ridiculous, and force the government to treat it with the same level of credulity and absurd dignity. So this is just a case of the same tools (satire generally, and the FSM's teachings in particular) to point out another area of nonsense, separate from the intelligent design masterstroke with which it all started.

      • You're not getting it. This case (the colander on the head) is pointing out the absurdity of "god makes me wear this" headware generally.

        Dude, if no one thought "god wants me to cut off the end of my dick" was absurd, this one won't even get noticed.

  • Not of the religious kind.
  • Old news... (Score:4, Informative)

    by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Sunday November 15, 2015 @04:46PM (#50936253) Homepage Journal

    Former porn star Asia Lemon (aka Asia Carrera) did this in Utah back in 2014.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new... [dailymail.co.uk]

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