The Flying Spaghetti Monster
An Austrian man was granted the right to wear a colander on his head in his driver's license photo, a symbol of his adherence to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Photo: dougnaka/

An Austrian man has won a court battle over religious freedom, giving him the right to wear head gear that represents his religion in his driver’s license. Niko Alm fought a legal battle to wear a colander in his license photo in accordance with his belief in Pastafarianism as a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Man honors Flying Spaghetti Monster

An Austrian man, Niko Alm, got into a protracted legal battle with the Austrian government after he requested that he be allowed to wear an item of religious significance in the photo on his driver’s license or “F├╝hrerschein Republik ├ľsterreich,” according to The Telegraph. Alm wanted to wear a colander on his head, a symbol of his devotion to Pastafarianism, the religion of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Alm, according to the Washington Post, wore the pasta strainer in order to test the limits of an Austrian law that permits people to wear head cover in photos appearing on government identification for religious purposes.

Sane enough to drive

Alm had to undergo psychological testing and receive a doctor’s clearance to drive. He was cleared, according to the Sacramento Bee, after three years of waiting. Alm, according to Der Spiegel, is still covered under his old license but had to receive clearance before he could begin using the license that has the picture of him wearing the colander. Alm is an atheist, but after learning of the law in 2008 from a brochure, decided to see just how far the rule could be stretched and settled on using the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a parody religion started by an American physics student as a rebuke of Intelligent Design. Alm said he wanted the same protections that apply t0 Muslims and nuns. A spokesperson for the Vienna police recently stated that Alm’s use of the colander was granted but not for religious reasons. Alm, according to the Wiener Zeitung (literally, “Viennese Newspaper”), intends to apply for state recognition of Pastafarianism as a religion.

Religious freedoms apply to everyone

Non-mainstream religions have occasionally appeared in the U.S. legal system as well. A California inmate received kosher meals for his observance of Festivus, according to the New York Post, until they realized “Festivism” was part of an episode of the sitcom “Seinfeld.” This is also not the first time a Pastafarian has tussled with authorities over freedom of religious expression. According to Wikipedia, a Florida teenager wore “full pirate regalia” to school in 2007 because Pastafarians recognize pirates as saints, but school administrators said his clothing was a distraction.


The Telegraph:

Washington Post:

Sacramento Bee:

Der Spiegel (German language; use Google Translate):,1518,774219,00.html

Wiener Zeitung (German language):

New York Post:

Wikipedia on the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster:

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