MILLINOCKET, Maine — A Maine man who identifies himself as a “priest of Pan” has been granted the right to wear horns on his head for his identification photo because of his assertion that the horns are a part of his religious attire.
“As a practicing Pagan minister and a priest of Pan, I’ve come to feel very attached to the horns, and they’ve become a part of me and part of my spirituality,” Phelan Moonsong, 56, told the Washington Post. “The horns are part of my religious attire.”
According to reports, Moonsong had been asked by the Bangor Bureau of Motor Vehicles to remove his horns for his photo, and were not persuaded when he stated that he wears the horns as a priest of Pan. According to Greek mythology, Pan was a “god of the wild” and is “depicted as being half human, while having the legs and horns of a goat.”
Moonsong says that he told officials that he viewed his horns as his “spiritual antenna,” and was consequently advised to provide documentation as to why his horns were a part of his religion. He obliged by composing a personal outline on the matter and providing other writings on the subject.
Bureau officials dispute the facts of the matter as they state that Moonsong had not stated upon his initial visit that the horns were part of his religious attire, and that they never received the submitted documents.
“He did not cite religious reasons,” Kristen Muszynski, spokesperson for Maine’s secretary of state, told the Bangor Daily News. “There are exceptions for religious headdress.”
The Pan follower says that he has been wearing the horns since 2009 after a friend’s goat died and no one laid claim to its horns. He states he rarely goes anywhere without them.
Therefore, when officials did not respond to his submissions, he phoned the bureau and advised that he was in contact with the ACLU. His ID card arrived days later.
“Many practicing Pagans are afraid of being public, but when they see my horns it reminds them it’s okay to be yourself,” Moonsong told reporters.
As previously reported, last November, a Massachusetts “Pastafarian” woman won an appeal to wear a colander on her head for her driver’s license photo as officials said that it would be permitted since the strainer didn’t cover her face. A professing atheist woman in Utah similarly was allowed to wear a colander on her head, asserting that she wanted to make a statement in doing so.
However, a Georgia Pastafarian was refused, being told that the headgear is not acceptable and that “Pastafarian is not actually a religion. Rather, it is a philosophy that mocks religion.”
“DDS (The Department of Driver’s Services) does not view satire or mockery of religion as a religion,” the state wrote in a denial letter.
The “Pastafarism” movement began in 2005 when American 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.”