Eddie Castillo had an unusual way of saying “cheese” for his official ID photo at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The Texas Tech student made one of the “biggest, cheesiest smile” he remembers while wearing a pasta strainer on his head, which he says is a symbol of his religion, "Pastafarianism," KLTV reports.
"You might think this is some sort of a gag or prank by a college student, but thousands, including myself, see it as a political and religious milestone for all atheists everywhere," Castillo told KLTV.
Castillo is the first person in the United States to be permitted to wear this kind of religious headgear in a government issued photo.
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"I don't want to say its poking fun at religious head-wear in other peoples faiths I would like to think that it actually opens the doors for new age religion and just it kind of symbolizes acceptance and it kind of celebrates in a sense that we are a melting pot of a country," Castillo told EverythingLubbock.com.
"Pastafarianism" was created in 2005 by a group of self-professed atheists in response to a Kansas School Board teaching intelligent design. According to the group’s official website, members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti reject any kind of religious dogma and do not follow any strict rules, rituals or prayers.
“We believe pirates, the original Pastafarians, were peaceful explorers and it was due to Christian misinformation that they have an image of outcast criminals today,” the group writes in a list of bullet points describing their faith. Members worship the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” -- a made up god that was invented as an argument against teaching intelligent design in schools.
It took months for Castillo to get permission to don the pasta strainer on his head for the government-issued photo. Castillo said he was driven to make a point about acceptance.
"Especially in Lubbock county where we are kind of looked at as one of the most conservatives cities in the country," he said. "I've heard of the stories happening of the guy getting arrested for attempting to do the same thing that I was doing so when I walked in there I had to mentally prepare myself to probably gather bond or something to get out of jail."
Castillo was the third Pastafarian this year to try to wear a coliander on his head for a DMV photo – and he was the only successful one. In May, Donald Hoover, a Pastafarian in Illinois petitioned the state to allow him to wear a strainer on his head. He was rejected since the state does not consider Pastafarianism a religion. In a letter written by Nathan Maddox, a senior legal advisor to the Illinois Secretary of State, the group is called a “satirical attack on the teaching of creationism as an alternative to evolution.”
In February, a New Jersey man posed a similar argument. Aaron Williams, 25, refused to remove a colander from his head at a Motor Vehicle Commission office where he was reissuing is license. Police were called to the scene, TheSmokingGun.com reports.
Europeans have been more successful with arguing for the spaghetti strainer headpiece. Two years ago, Niko Alm successfully won his legal battle for the right to pose for a Pastafarianism-friendly ID photo. More recently, Czech Republic officials ruled that citizen, Lukas Novy, was allowed to wear a pasta strainer as part of the country’s religious equity laws.