A 51-year-old musician Ian Harris, who is also a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, accused the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) of discriminating against him, after it rejected a photograph of him wearing the church’s religious headgear, a colander. Earlier this month, Harris lodged his third appeal against the agency, after it declined to sanction the photograph of him wearing a kitchen utensil for his driving license.
A letter sent by the agency read:
“Unfortunately the decision remains the same and you will be required to make a new application for a driving license with an appropriate photograph. You will appreciate that we must work within a framework set by law and the decisions we make have to be in line with the relevant legislation, therefore, we may not always be able to meet your expectations.”
Pastafarianism, which is now widely regarded as a legitimate religion, is in fact a light-hearted take on organized religion that opposes the teaching of intelligent design and creationism in public schools. Apart from endorsing the colander as its official headgear, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has stated Friday to be a national holiday, claimed all pirates were originally Pastafarians and said that beer is an essential part of any celebration. While advocates of Pastafarianism argue that faith in a flying spaghetti monster is just as credible as in any other being, critics of the religion claim Pastafarianism is nothing short of a parody. Yet, in 2013, a court in Poland ruled that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster could in fact apply to register as an official religion.
Harris, a resident of Hove in East Sussex, said he was humiliated by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency after officials told him that sanctioning a photograph of him wearing a colander would damage their credibility.
“Who are they to decide which religions are true or valid? Our religion is a minority but the DVLA is discriminating because it allows people who practice major religions to wear headgear in pictures. The letters implied the picture would damage the DVLA's credibility because the religion has a comic element to it, which I found insulting. Other church members have been very supportive of my complaint and have said the head gear is allowed in photos in other countries,” he said.
“I will continue to fight the good fight for our savoury Lord. I have checked and their guidelines do not say I cannot wear my colander,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency clarified however that their guidelines on photographs that are deemed acceptable were issued by Her Majesty’s Passport Office and it could do nothing to help Harris’ situation.
Photo Credits: The Telegraph