Employees at a Motor Vehicle Commission office in New Jersey called the police on Feb. 2, when a man claiming to be a "Pastafarian" -- a follower of a parody religion called the "Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster" -- refused to take a pasta strainer off his head for a new license photo.
Aaron Williams, 25, told employees at the South Brunswick motor vehicle office that “his pasta strainer was a religious head covering and it was his right to wear it for his license photo,” according to a South Brunswick Police Department report newly obtained by The Smoking Gun.
Per The Smoking Gun, officers were eventually able to convince Williams to remove the strainer for his picture and reported that Williams was calm and cooperative throughout the incident.
The tongue-in-cheek Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was founded, in part, to protest the teaching of creationism in schools, according to CBS New York.
"What we deem as different or embarrassing is different from what another individual deems as different or embarrassing, in terms of religious practices," Williams told the South Brunswick Patch after his incident at the MVC. "As a Pastafarian, I believe the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster ... The strainer is a showing of my devoutness to the religion."
Williams went on to speculate that MVC employees did not understand the significance of his headgear because his beliefs are not widely known.
"Had it been a turban or a head scarf, or something from a mainstream religion, then it would've been fine," he told 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."
The Evangelical Pastafariansim Facebook page acknowledged the incident in a post. "Faithful church member Aaron Williams has been denied his Noodle-given right to wear the religious head covering of his choice - namely a pasta strainer - in his New Jersey drivers license photo," the post read.
While Pastafarianism may come off as farcical, Williams told NJ.com that "I take it as seriously as anybody else when it comes to religious beliefs.”
In 2011, an Austrian follower of Pastafarianism was finally allowed to take his drivers license picture with a strainer on his head, reports the Agence France-Press. Niko Alm had been attempting to have the country recognize his headgear since 2008.
Williams may be able to follow in Alm's footsteps, if he wishes.
In the police report obtained by The Smoking Gun, an officer told Williams that he could apply to the state to have his preferred head gear approved for license photos.
Williams declined to be interviewed by The Huffington Post.
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