A woman who belongs to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was allowed to wear a colander on her head in a driver’s license photo after her original bid to do so was denied.
Lindsay Miller of Lowell, Massachusetts, is a Pastaferian. In August, she was reportedly denied a renewed license by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles for wearing the spaghetti strainer on her head.
"They were kind of laughing at me," Miller told the Boston Globe of the experience. "I … thought that this was not fair. I thought, 'Just because you haven’t heard of this belief system, [the RMV] should not be denying me a license.'"
A spokesperson for the RMV told The Associated Press that head coverings or hats are not allowed in license photos, but said exceptions are made for religious reasons.
Miller said that wearing the colander on her head allows her to express her devotion to the Spaghetti Monster, the Pastafarian deity.
After the August incident, Miller filed an administrative appeal and enlisted Patty DeJuneas, a member of the Secular Legal Society — the American Humanist Association’s network of attorneys — to help in her case.
"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," DeJuneas said in a statement, released by the AHA.
Before the hearing could take place, however, the RMV contacted Miller and told her she would be allowed to wear the strainer in her photo after all.
DeJuneas said the RMV "recognized the error" and apologized. Miller said she was delighted at the agency's change of heart.
According to its website, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti was founded in 2005 to protest the teaching of creationism in schools. The church says it’s neither “anti-religion” nor an atheists’ club but rather "anti-crazy nonsense done in the name of religion."
“It’s a religion that uses parody," Miller told the Globe of her beliefs. "We accept all dogma, but we reject all dogma at the same time. That’s what is so great about Pastafarianism. It accepts everyone.”
This isn't the first time that a Pastafarian has worn a colander in a license photo. Last year, an Oklahoma woman named Shawna Hammond was photographed for her license with the metalware on her head.
"For me the colander represents freedom, our freedom of religion, and to whatever religion we prefer or lack of religion," Hammond told KFOR in September.
Also last year, a Pomfret, New York councilman donned a spaghetti strainer on his head when he was sworn into office.