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

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.