An Austrian atheist has won the right to be shown on his driving-licence photo wearing a pasta strainer as “religious headgear”.
Niko Alm first applied for the licence three years ago after reading that headgear was allowed in official pictures only for confessional reasons.
Mr Alm said the sieve was a requirement of his religion, pastafarianism.
The Austrian authorities required him to obtain a doctor’s certificate that he was “psychologically fit” to drive.
The idea came into Mr Alm’s noodle three years ago as a way of making a serious, if ironic, point.
A self-confessed atheist, Mr Alm says he belongs to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a light-hearted faith whose members call themselves pastafarians.
The group’s website states that “the only dogma allowed in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the rejection of dogma”.
In response to pressure for American schools to teach the Christian theory known as intelligent design, as an alternative to natural selection, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster wrote to the Kansas School Board asking for the pastafarian version of intelligent design to be taught to schoolchildren, as an alternative to the Christian theory.
In the same spirit, Mr Alm’s pastafarian-style application for a driving licence was a response to the Austrian recognition of confessional headgear in official photographs.
The licence took three years to come through and, according to Mr Alm, he was asked to submit to a medical interview to check on his mental fitness to drive but – straining credulity – his efforts have finally paid off.
It is the police who issue driving licences in Austria, and they have duly issued a laminated card showing Mr Alm in his unorthodox item of religious headgear.
The next step, Mr Alm told the Austrian news agency APA, is to apply to the Austrian authorities for pastafarianism to become an officially recognised faith.
A fringe Christian group has been busy lately warning the world about the coming Rapture, which it claims will be here on May 21.
California-based Family Radio is spearheading the cause and has purchased billboards around the country asking commuters to mark May 21 on their calendars. They say that’s the day when Jesus will return and true Christians will be spirited off to heaven, leaving the rest of the population to suffer through the last five months of their lives until God destroys the Earth on October 21.
If the prognosticators are right, then some of us are in big trouble.
With that thought in mind, a local group called Seattle Atheists is now taking donations for a “Rapture Relief Fund” to help those who are left behind.
“To help us help you, we’ve created ‘Rapture Relief,’ an aid fund for the unfortunate people left behind,” said John Keiser of Seattle Atheists. “When you give to this fund, Seattle Atheists will use the money to help survivors of any Armageddon-sized disaster in the Puget Sound area.”
Keiser and the 280 other members of Seattle Atheists have already raised $800 for the fund, and they hope to have $5,000 by May 21.
If Family Radio is wrong and the world survives, Seattle Atheists will donate all the money from the relief fund to Camp Quest, which teaches children about science and critical thinking.
“It just dawned on us that this is really dumb stuff and these people are really showing a complete lack of critical thinking,” Keiser said. “We wanted to highlight that and highlight the need for critical thinking, which is why we decided to make it a fundraiser for Camp Quest.”
Seattle Atheists will be out raising money for the fund at several upcoming events, including an end-of-the-world party scheduled for May 21 at Dorky’s Arcade in Tacoma at 8 p.m. Members will also be present in the University District for StreetFair on May 21-22 and they’ll be at Westlake Park on May 23-27.