Aaron Williams, a devout follower of Pastafarianism, has had his religious rights trampled by the New Jersey Motor Vehicles Commission, which refused to allow him to wear his religious headgear (a pasta strainer) for his official driver's license photo.
"Had it been a turban or a headscarf, or something from a mainstream religion, then it would've been fine," Williams, 24, told New Brunswick Patch. "I guess since they hadn't heard of the religion, that's why they opposed it. But that's not really acceptable to me. They're not in a position to discriminate against religions that are mainstream, or not mainstream, just because they may not have heard about it…
…Williams was told by police that he could try to get the state to recognize the colander as religious headwear, but until they did, he could not wear it for the photo.
"The people there were very polite, but I'd like to have better training for their employees, so I may be looking into some way to educate their employees on their own policies," Williams told Patch. "I feel like after I expressed my opinions and beliefs they were definitely more accepting. I was met with hostility at first and they were asking me what my problem was."
I think it's outrageous that New Jersey holds for itself the right to determine which solemn faiths are and are not legitimate. As a Pastafarian myself, I've often thought that tales of burning bushes, miraculous healings, and alien beings strapped to volcanoes were somewhat hard to credit at first blush, but I reserve judgment out of respect for the faith of my neighbors. Surely they owe us followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster the same respect.
New Jersey 'Pastafarian' denied right to wear spaghetti strainer on his head for drivers' license photo [David Knowles/New York Daily News]