When it came to her driver’s license photo, one Oklahoma woman had no problem taking her glasses off to give the camera a clear shot of her face.
But her spaghetti strainer? No way.
Shawna Hammond, a Pastafarian from Enid, says wearing a metallic colander on her head is her guarantee of religious freedom--a right she doesn’t take lightly.
“For me the colander represents freedom, our freedom of religion, and to whatever religion we prefer or lack of religion,” Hammond told KFOR.
Oklahoma’s Department of Public Safety requires driver’s license photos to present a clear view of an individual’s face. Religious headpieces aren’t allowed to cast shadows on the face, or display logos or text.
Hammond admits that the tag agent gave her a “funny look” when she presented the spaghetti strainer, but ended up taking the photo after the woman confirmed she was a Pastafarian.
“It doesn’t cover my face. I mean you can still see my face. We have to take off our glasses, so I took off my glasses,” Hammond said.
The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster insists that Pastafarianism is a real religion. The church was founded in 2005, to protest teaching creationism in schools. It lacks strict rules, regulations, rituals, or prayers, allowing its followers choose their own avenues toward belief. The Church says its doors are opened to atheists and agnostics, as well as Christians, Buddhists, and people of other faiths.
“By design, the only dogma allowed in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the rejection of dogma,” the church website reads.
Hammond told KFOR that she is an atheist who believes that unbelievers should be able to express their views.
“I’m glad I was able to do it. It’s hard living as a non-religious person in Oklahoma. It felt good to be recognized that we can all coexist and have those equal rights,” she said.
Oklahoma’s Highway Patrol is reviewing Hammond’s photo to ensure that it fits within state requirements.
Members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster have been vocal about their beliefs in the past. Last year, Texas Tech student Eddie Castillo became the first American to successfully have his government-issued ID taken while wearing a colander on his head.
In January, a New York Town Council member was sworn into office wearing a colander. Christopher Schaeffer claimed he was a Pastafarian minister.