An atheist has been issued a driver's license that shows him pictured wearing a spaghetti strainer as religious headgear. It took officials nearly a year to approve the identification.
Niko Alm, of Austria, submitted a photo of himself wearing the curious headgear when he first mailed in his application for the driver's license in 2008.
Alm, 35, says he donned the sieve to protest Austrian laws allowing those photographed in official documents to wear headgear for faith reasons. He told the Austrian independent that he was angry officials had no problem with Muslim women wearing headscarves in their driving license and passport photos.
Alm says he was inspired by the U.S. atheist group he belongs to, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, whose members are “Pastafarians.”
When Alms submitted the photo, he noted on his application that he was wearing the strainer due to his “Pastafarian” faith.
Officials apparently weren't very swayed, so Alm obtained a doctor's statement proclaiming him physically fit to drive, according to media reports.
Local officials apparently couldn't find legal grounds to dismiss his claims, according to the Australian Independent.
A police spokesman told the BBC Wednesday that Alm's so-called religion had nothing to do with officials approving his photo. "The only criterion for photos in driving license applications is that the whole face must be visible," said Manfred Reinthaler, a police spokesman told the news agency.
Alm says he didn't realize that officials had actually approved the license until an anonymous clerk, reportedly sympathetic to his protest, called to notify him that his application had been approved. In all, it took him nearly three years to get his hands on the approved document.
The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster congratulated Alm on their website Wednesday.
The atheist group, which uses satire to challenge religious claims, came into existence in 2005 when Bob Henderson challenged Intelligent Design being taught alongside the Theory of Evolution in Kansas classrooms.
According to their website, “the only dogma allowed in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the rejection of dogma.”