ST. GEORGE, Utah — A Utah woman was recently allowed to wear a colander on her head for her driver’s license photo as part of a satirical religion that is meant to mock Christianity and its beliefs.
Jessica Steinhauser is a former porn film star, known then as Asia Carrera, and recently brought a spaghetti strainer to the Hurricane Department of Motor Vehicles to wear on her head for her updated license.
Steinhauser is a member of the so-called “Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster” (FSM), also known as Pastafariasm. The movement began in 2005 when founder Bobby Henderson sent an open letter to the Kansas Board of Education to express his opposition to its decision to allow the teaching of Intelligent Design as an alternative to evolution, mocking biblical Creation with the concept of a “spaghetti monster.”
“With millions, if not thousands, of devout worshipers, the Church of the FSM is widely considered a legitimate religion, even by its opponents—mostly fundamentalist Christians,” the organization’s largely blasphemous website states, then proceeds to make a crude statement about the Almighty that is sexual in nature.
“If you say Pastafarians must believe in a literal Flying Spaghetti Monster to be True Believers, then you can make a similar argument for Christians,” it later states. “There is a lot of outlandish stuff in the Bible that rational Christians choose to ignore. We do the same with our scripture. This is intentional.”
“He boiled for your sins,” states one poster featured on the site. Another features a mockery of John 3:16, making a reference to “Spaghetti 3:16,” and shows a man carrying a cross that reads “Pastafarianism.”
The Utah DMV states that approximately a dozen of those who belong to the satirical movement have had their photo taken with a colander on their head in recent years. Approximately two years ago, the department concluded that the strainers would be permissible as it recognized FSM as a religion. Hats and other headgear are not allowed to be worn for driver’s license photos unless they are considered to be part of the individual’s religious garb.
“As long as we can get a visual of the face, we’re fine if they choose to wear the headgear,” Nannette Rolfe, the director of Utah’s Driver License Division, told the Associated Press.
Steinhauser says that she identifies foremost as an atheist and sought to wear the colander for her driver’s license photo to make a statement.
“I’m a really proud, outspoken atheist,” she told reporters. “I am proud of Utah for allowing freedom of all religions in what is considered by many to be a one-religion state.”
A similar story made headlines in September when Shawna Hammond of Oklahoma prompted review by the state highway patrol when questions arose about her driver’s license photo, which likewise featured the self-proclaimed atheist wearing a strainer on her head.
“I’m glad I was able to do it. It’s hard living as a non-religious person in Oklahoma,” Hammond stated. “It felt good to be recognized that we can all coexist and have those equal rights.”
However, some atheists have been turned away in various locales, such as in British Columbia, where Obi Canuel has been fighting the government in an effort to obtain permission to wear the colander for his photo.