When Chris Avino learned he would have to take a new driver’s license photo — this time, without a colander on his head — he vowed to fight the state of Georgia until the colander received the same religious headdress status as any hijab or yarmulke.
There was just one problem: by the time Avino was told that he’d need a new photo, he’d already moved from his parents’ Snellville address.
Instead of fighting to keep it on his noodle in Georgia, Avino simply got a Nevada driver’s license in mid-January. That state let him wear a colander in his photo.
“I was tired of waiting,” Avino said in an email.
Avino is a Pastafarian, and claims that the colander is his religious headdress. Pastafarians belong to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a tongue-in-cheek group that substitutes eight “I’d Really Rather You Didn’ts” for the Ten Commandments. Though they have been accused of being anti-religion, members are “anti-crazy nonsense done in the name of religion,” according to the church’s website.
But Georgia didn’t recognize the group as a religion, and Department of Driver Services general counsel Angelique McClendon said in a letter that he needed a colander-free driver’s license photo.
“A colander is not a veil, scarf or headdress,” she said. “A colander is a kitchen utensil commonly used for ‘washing or draining food.’”
Avino maintains that he should have been allowed to wear the colander.
“If, for whatever reason, I move back to Georgia in the future, I will absolutely have my identification photo taken again wearing my religious headdress,” he wrote. “If I meet any resistance in that matter, my plan would be to find a lawyer myself and sue the Georgia Department of Driver Services for infringing on my constitutional rights.”