Thursday, July 14, 2011
Austrian atheist wins right to wear pasta strainer as religious headgear
An Austrian atheist has won the right to be shown on his driving-licence photo wearing a pasta strainer as "religious headgear". Niko Alm first applied for the licence three years ago after reading that headgear was allowed in official pictures only for confessional reasons.
Mr Alm said the sieve was a requirement of his religion, pastafarianism. The Austrian authorities required him to obtain a doctor's certificate that he was "psychologically fit" to drive.
A self-confessed atheist, Mr Alm says he belongs to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a light-hearted faith whose members call themselves pastafarians. The license took three years to come through and, according to Mr Alm, he was asked to submit to a medical interview to check on his mental fitness to drive but his efforts have finally paid off.
It is the police who issue driving licences in Austria, and they have duly issued a laminated card showing Mr Alm in his unorthodox item of religious headgear. The next step, Mr Alm said, is to apply to the Austrian authorities for pastafarianism to become an officially recognized faith.
I absolutely love Mr. Alm. With tongue firmly in cheek he has been able to skewer concepts of inclusion, diversity, religion, human rights - initiatives that have often gone totally off the deep end. My favourite part of this story is how the very serious bureaucrats administering the driver's licensing program required that he submit to a medical assessment to prove he was mentally competent to drive. I would join the pastafarian faith but our pasta strainers are too uncomfortable to wear.