Meet Shawna Hammond. That’s her in the driver’s license photo… with a spaghetti strainer on her head. Leslie Rangel of News Channel 4 reports:
It may sound like a joke but an Enid woman says her Oklahoma driver’s license features a unique symbol of her religious freedom.
It may even prompt a giggle, but for Shawna Hammond, the spaghetti strainer is a symbol of freedom.
“It doesn’t cover my face. I mean you can still see my face. We have to take off our glasses, so I took off my glasses,” Hammond said.
According to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety’s rules, religious headpieces cannot cause shadows on your face and the photograph must present a clear view of your face.
“I asked if I could wear my religious headwear and he said, yes, it just couldn’t have any logos, or any type of writing. I told him it didn’t, and I went out to my car and got my colander,” said Hammond.
Hammond says she walked back into the tag agency in Enid with a strainer on her head.
“She kind of chuckled, she giggled, gave me a funny look and asked me what religion I was. I told her I was a Pastafarian,” Hammond said.
Pastafarianism is a religion where there are “no strict rules and regulations, there are no rote rituals and prayers and other nonsense,” according to the church’s website.
“It came about in 2005. A man named Bobby Henderson wrote an open letter to the Kansas State Board of Education. It was actually about teaching creationism in school and he came up with the flying spaghetti monster and it had just as much merit,” Hammond said.
Hammond is an Atheist and believes no one should be forced into certain beliefs.
“For me the colander represents freedom, our freedom of religion, and to whatever religion we prefer or lack of religion. It was important to me to exercise that, even if it’s just a driver’s license photo,” Hammond said.
“I’m glad I was able to do it. It’s hard living as a non-religious person in Oklahoma. It felt good to be recognized that we can all coexist and have those equal rights,” she added.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is in charge of the driver’s license department.
Officials say they want to do a thorough review of the picture to make sure it is following all the rules.
If it does follow the rules, authorities say they may look at changing the rule of religious headwear because it is more than 10-years-old.
See the interview with Shawna Hammond via News Channel 4’s website linked here.