AHA News |  

Massachusetts Pastafarian Wins Right to Wear a Colander in Driver’s License Photo, Thanks to Humanist Group

For Immediate Release

Contact:
Maggie Ardiente, 202-238-9088 ext.116, mardiente@americanhumanist.org
David Niose, 202-238-9088 ext. 119, dniose@americanhumanist.org

(Boston, MA, Nov. 13, 2015)—The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center is pleased that the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is permitting a Pastafarian woman to wear a colander in her driver’s license photo, a development that occurred after the group's attorneys were enlisted to assist with the applicant's appeal.

Lindsay Miller identifies as a Pastafarian, also known as members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a secular religion that views the existence of a Flying Spaghetti Monster to be just as probable as the existence of the Christian God. As a Pastafarian, Ms. Miller wished to wear a colander on her head in her driver’s license photo, as an expression of her Pastafarian identity. However, she was denied this request by the Massachusetts RMV.

Miller said, "As a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I feel delighted that my Pastafarianism has been respected by the Massachusetts RMV. While I don't think the government can involve itself in matters of religion, I do hope this decision encourages my fellow Pastafarian Atheists to come out and express themselves as I have."

A friend of Ms. Miller’s contacted the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center on her behalf. The American Humanist Association connected her to Patty DeJuneas, a member of the Secular Legal Society, the American Humanist Association’s network of cooperating attorneys. Ms. Miller filed an administrative appeal and expected to attend a hearing in October about her driver’s license photo. The hearing was postponed, and the Massachusetts RMV is now allowing Ms. Miller to have her photo taken with a colander.

DeJuneas said, "The First Amendment applies to every person and every religion, so I was dismayed to hear that Lindsay had been ridiculed for simply seeking the same freedoms and protections afforded to people who belong to more traditional or theistic religions. We appreciate that the RMV recognized the error, apologized, and issued a license respecting her First Amendment rights, and hope that RMV staff will be trained to respect diversity."

"If people are given the right to wear religious garments in government ID photos, then this must extend to people who follow the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster," said David Niose, legal director of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

A photo of Lindsay Miller’s new driver’s license can be viewed here and here.

Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.