Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Pasta

By Mira Soni 

Sean Corbett is a Pastafarian. Confused? So were the Arizona employees of the first Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) Corbett visited three years ago when he attempted to have his driver’s license photo taken with a colander on his head. In an interview with The Arizona Republic, he said it was an act of religious freedom.

Pastafarianism, or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, was created by Bobby Henderson in 2005 in reaction to a Kansas law allowing schools to teach creationism. Among the Church’s principles are the beliefs that humans evolved from pirates, who were the “original Pastafarians”, and that Heaven is home to a “Beer Volcano and a Stripper Factory”.

The colander was first worn by Austrian Pastafarian Niko Alm in his ID photos. In an interview with The Atlantic last fall, Alm explained why.

“Headgear is not allowed in driver’s licenses except for religious reasons,” he explained. “So I invented a religious reason.”

Corbett and his colander were turned away from every MVD they visited until this year. He received his official ID in the mail on Tuesday. State officials have already announced they will void his license, but Corbett has sworn to fight back.

“Initially it may have started off as, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if I could get a spaghetti strainer in my picture? That would be boss,’ but if you look at what’s going on in the world today, people being persecuted for religious beliefs, maybe it’s time to take a step back and say, ‘You know what? You shouldn’t be persecuted for your religion.’ “

MVD officials’ decision to pull Corbett’s credentials is consistent with a 2016 U.S. District Court ruling in Nebraska, when a prisoner sued the state for not allowing him to practice Pastafarianism while imprisoned. The Court ruled that Pastafarianism is a “parody”, not a religion, and as such is not subject to the same protections enjoyed by other faiths.


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