Move Over, Pastafarians: Guy Wears Goat Horns to DMV

Pagan Phelan Moonsong wins argument with Maine that they're 'religious attire'
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2016 8:33 AM CST
Updated Dec 18, 2016 9:03 AM CST
Move Over, Pastafarians: Guy Wears Goat Horns to DMV
Phelan Moonsong   (Phelan Moonsong)

Phelan Moonsong has worn a pair of goat horns since 2009, and he's not about to take them off for you or for the Maine DMV—a religious attire argument he's recently won, reports the Washington Post. "As a practicing Pagan minister and a priest of Pan, I’ve come to feel very attached to the horns, and they’ve become a part of me and part of my spirituality," Moonsong says. "The horns are part of my religious attire." Moonsong went looking for a state ID in August, and was told he'd have to remove the horns. When he protested, a DMV worker "told me that I had to send in some documentation or religious text to show why it was required for me to have my horns on," says Moonsong, who said the requirement seemed "onerous." Nevertheless, he wrote an essay and sent along scholarly works, including one: "Pagan Religions: A Handbook for Diversity Training." He waited, then says he informed the DMV he and the ACLU were talking; days later, his ID arrived.

Moonsong is certainly not the first to fight for his right to wear religious headgear; the Post notes that some 30 states have strong religious attire laws on the books. But "even in states without a high level of protection, officials have to have a pretty good reason for saying no to a religious accommodation for a driver’s license photo," says an official with the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute. Maine law states that headgear is fine, notes the Bangor Daily News, as long as it "does not present as an obstruction or present a shadow and render the portrait inadequate for the identification of the cardholder." As for Moonsong, he seems pretty happy with the outcome. "Many practicing Pagans are afraid of being public," he says, "but when they see my horns it reminds them it’s OK to be yourself." (Read more Pastafarianism stories.)

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