Trips to the DMV don't typically elicit genuine smiles, but from beneath a metal pasta strainer, Texas Tech student and practicing Pastafarian Eddie Castillo flashed the "biggest, cheesiest" one he could muster last week.
Castillo told KLBK that the triumphant moment came after a lengthy fight with the state's Department of Public Safety that the unusual headgear was protected as part of his religious beliefs. He worships the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a deity created by an atheist in 2005 in protest of the Kansas School Board's defense of teaching intelligent design. According to its founding principles, "the only dogma allowed in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the rejection of dogma."
Castillo is the first American to successfully have his government-issued photo identification taken while wearing a colander, though DPS officials are reportedly planning to follow up with Castillo in order to "rectify" the situation. Others have tried unsuccessfully, and Castillo told KLBK that he was surprised at his victory, which he called a "political and religious milestone for all atheists everywhere."
"Especially in Lubbock County where we are kind of looked at as one of the most conservatives cities in the country," Castillo said. "I've heard of the stories happening of the guy getting arrested for attempting to do the same thing that I was doing so when I walked in there I had to mentally prepare myself to probably gather bond or something to get out of jail."
A New Jersey man caused a scene at a local DMV earlier this year when he refused to remove his pasta-strainer. He eventually complied with the demands, however, and took his photo without the garb. The state told him he could apply to have his strainer approved.
Donald Hoover, a Pastafarian in Illinois, took up a similar legal battle in May, petitioning the state to allow him to wear a colander for his license photo. When a state official told Hoover there was no exception for "satirical headgear," he shot back, noting that the state didn't have grounds to question the validity of Hoover's religious beliefs. So far, Hoover hasn't been able to get a Pastafarian-friendly license.
Pastafarians in Europe have seen more success in their efforts to pay homage to the Flying Spaghetti Monster in official documents. Earlier this month, Czech citizen Lukas Novy was issued an ID showing him wearing colander, after officials ruled that turning down his request would violate the nation's religious equality laws. Austrian atheist Niko Alm's license also shows him wearing a strainer, the product of a lengthy legal fight.