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An undated photo provided by Niko Alm on Thursday, July 14, 2011, showing his driving license photo. It has to be strangest piece of identification in Austria - if not the world.  Alm An undated photo provided by Niko Alm on Thursday, July 14, 2011, showing his driving license photo. It has to be strangest piece of identification in Austria - if not the world. Alm's new drivers license shows him wearing a pasta strainer as headgear. A tongue-in cheek atheist, Alm submitted the photo as part of applying for a new license to test an Austrian law stipulating that head coverings were allowed in official documents only for religious reasons. Alm said he was a "pastafarian," and the headpiece was required for his religion. Alm said that it took three years to have the licensee issued. Police officials say religion was never an issue. They say the photo fulfills the criterion of leaving Alm's face fully recognizable. (AP Photo/Niko Alm, ho)  

‘Pastafarian’ religious headgear gives new meaning to ‘cookware’

Photo of Ameena Schelling
Ameena Schelling
Freelance Writer

Freedom of religion has gone to a new extreme, as Austrian authorities have decided wearing a pasta strainer on one’s head in a driver’s license photo is a state-protected form of religious expression, according to the BBC.

Austrian Niko Alm told reporters that he recently won a three-year battle to wear a strainer-hat in his license photo as a type of religious headgear.

A self-described “pastafarian” and member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Alm decided a sieve would be the best sign of his religious devotion, and submitted a picture of him wearing the kitchen equipment along with his application for a license in 2008.

Initially, the application only earned Alm a mandatory appointment with a doctor to confirm that he was mentally fit to drive. But after a three-year wait, authorities sent Alm his card in the mail. He now says the processed license signifies Austrian recognition of the colander’s religious importance.

But Vienna police spokesman Mafred Reinthaler explained that the decision was less significant, according to the BBC. “The photo was not approved on religious grounds,” Reinthaler said. “The only criterion for photos in driving licence applications is that the whole face must be visible.”

An atheist, Alm first thought of the stunt after hearing that Austrian officials were permitting confessional headgear in photos, according to the BBC. He is currently working on having “pastafarianism” officially recognized as a faith. (Chavez: Castro ‘like a saint’)

The U.S.-based Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was founded in 2005 when its founder sent a letter to the Kansas School Board requesting that the state require students to be instructed in pastafarian intelligent design.

This followed pressure from Christian groups to teach intelligent design over natural selection in schools. The letter quickly went viral.

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  • mtiki

    The guy is brilliant. He does a silly stunt to make a point and look at the conversation he has generated on big government interference as well as religion. I’ve seen this story on several news outlets and their comment sections are overflowing. Everyone that criticized this guy fell for it hook, line and sinker!

  • barryswhitehalf

    How can an atheist consider ANYTHING, much less a colander, to have RELIGIOUS importance?

    As one can see from the photo, the idiot is in the process of straining his brain to figure that one out. Sadly, he will come up empty-handed.

    • Liberty for All

      Stranger still, is that it bothers you. First off, it’s funny. Is it his lack of allegiance to a faith that irks you? If he was Christian, and demonstrating against Muslim head coverings, would you like him? I think it’s your reference point that determines your critique. that’s a shame.

    • wagymfan

      If he’s a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, then he’s by definition, not an Athiest. Unless you consider Christians and Muslims Athiest, since they have different religous beliefs. Just because you don’t believe in his God, and he doesn’t believe in yours, doesn’t make either of you an atheist.

      Ramen – For with him, all is Pastable!

  • opaobie

    Make him wear it everywhere he goes. Every time he has to show his driver’s license, if he isn’t wearing his “religious headgear”, refuse him service. Treat him the same way people who have to wear glasses are treated. If he is stopped by the police for a traffic violation and isn’t wearing it, cite him for it just like they do for not wearing glasses. Make him wear it for his passport photo. Have fun going through metal detectors with your “religious headgear” on, fool.

    • thephranc

      A woman in a head scarf doesn’t have to have the head scarf on at all times. Glasses aren’t religious they are medical. You sound the fool.

    • FSM

      We are not afraid of looking like a fool. We do what our faith tells us too.

      If Thiests would follow all their rules they would look foolish too. But, you guys don’t. You pick and choose.

      We my be foolish, but we are not hypocrites, and the only people we insult are those with no since of humor.

      Wrapped in his noodly embrace, I am:
      Educate the Christians with Carbonara Sauce.