The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster continues to draw new acolytes with a Queensland tradie forgoing a driver’s licence to express his religious beliefs.
Brisbane renderer Simon L. has been unable to drive for almost two months after the state’s Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) refused to renew his licence because he insisted on being photographed with a colander on his head. Simon L is a Pastafarian and he believes his rights are being violated because he cannot express his faith through his religious headdress in his licence photo. “I’m a devout member of the church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and I have a right to wear a colander just like Sikhs wear turbans,” the 31-year-old told ninemsn. “Just because they don’t understand my religion doesn’t mean I should be persecuted. I don’t understand why I am being discriminated against. Mr L said after an employee at the TMR refused to allow him to wear a pasta strainer on his head for his license photo, initially citing “the ID systems of the camera”, he escalated the matter. On September 15 the TMR replied that while it allows religious headwear to be worn in driver licence photographs for recognised religions, “this is done on the basis that this headwear is always worn by the person in public places, including while at work and while the person is driving, and should not be removed in public”. “It is not permissible for religious headwear to be only put on for the purpose of the driver licence photo,” the TMR said. When Mr L challenged the TMR the department replied “the Department of Transport and Main Roads’ position that ‘Pastafarianism’ head wear is not permitted to be worn when taking a driver licence photo has not changed.” Mr L is not the first Pastafarian to have had trouble with the authorities because of the way he chooses to express his faith. The spiritual tradie said the decision to adhere to his religious principles has inconvenienced him and also taken a financial toll. “I’ve lost four days’ work because there was no way to get public transport, which to me is about $1200,” he said. However, he remains defiant and said he will “just keep going” if the authorities refuse to budge and insist he cannot be photographed with a colander on his head. “It is not up to a public servant to decide what my beliefs are,” he said. “I demand that my beliefs be respected.” However, the experiences of followers of Flying Spaghetti Monster differ from state to state. Sydney university science student Preshalin M was last month able to obtain a provisional driver’s license with a colander on his head. “After the test I asked if I was able to wear religious headwear and she (the woman at the Roads and Maritime Services) said yes,” Mr M said. “I pulled out the colander, put it on my head and she just took the photo.” The situation is also different for South Australian Pastafarians. Earlier this year Adelaide man Guy A had his legally obtained guns seized after he requested to wear a pasta strainer on his head for a firearms licence photo. He had his religion questioned and was forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before his weapons were returned. Captain Tanya Watkins of the Australian branch of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster asks “What other person has had their religion questioned and been forced to go to such lengths to prove their sanity”. And the problem is not unique to Australia.
A man in Canada was recently denied a renewal of his driver’s license because he refused to be photographed without his holy headgear. Obi Canuel of British Colombia, who is an ordained minister in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, said he should be allowed to wear a colander on his head the same way as Sikhs wear turbans and Jews wear yarmulkes. Ms Watkins said she believes the case shows that Pastafarians are people who have deep religious beliefs and are willing to fight to have their religious rights observed. “What has occurred in his case is clear discrimination, and I admire and support his refusal to give up his beliefs due to religious repression by the government,” she said. “No other religion requires needing to ‘prove’ it is a real religion, nor does any other person of a particular faith need to prove they are an adherent or that it is a requirement of their religion to wear a certain thing on their head. Only Pastafarians.”
And I will finish up by saying, anybody wanting to have a gun licence and wear a pasta colander on their head, then I whole heartedly agree, they should have their mental health checked.