Member of ‘religious’ group Fringe steps up headgear fight with ICBC

“My religious headgear is an expression of my beliefs. I am denied the right to express myself in a manner accorded to members of other faiths and denominations. ”

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There is, says Gary Smith, no good reason for ICBC to deny his request to wear his headgear for his driver’s license photo.

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His headgear, a colander, is part of his religion: Smith is a Pastafarian, a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

ICBC informed him that it is not a religious head covering, refused to accept a photo of him wearing it for his license, and Smith has now filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal. person from British Columbia.

“My religious headgear is an expression of my beliefs,” he said. “I am denied the right to express myself in a manner accorded to members of other faiths and denominations …

“There is no test of faith that a government body, including ICBC, can apply to judge whether a person genuinely believes what they are professing when they ask to be photographed with a religious head covering.”

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Smith pointed out that he is pictured wearing a head covering (a pirate hat) on his BC Marriage Commissioner’s License and on his RCMP-approved Firearms Possession and Acquisition License. .

“Being threatened by ICBC with not having a driver’s license because I challenge their discriminatory policies has the potential impact of limiting my ability to earn a living… and function like other people, regardless of their beliefs. “

Smith is a real estate agent in Grand Forks, which involves extensive car travel.

His religion emerged in 2005 after the Kansas State Board of Education offered to teach creationism alongside evolution. A man named Bobby Henderson, then a 24-year-old physics student, wrote an open letter mocking the move, which has gone viral. He read in part that millions of people “firmly feel that the overwhelming scientific evidence regarding evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence set up by him (the flying spaghetti monster)”.

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Today there are branches of the church in Europe, many states in the United States, and Canada.

“It’s an evolution of what Bobby started out with,” Smith said on Friday. “I think it would be an oversimplification to say that it is just a satire to respond to the intelligent design taught in schools.

“Much of this (pastafarism) is helping to create the separation of church and state.”

ICBC has a department dedicated to deciding who can and who cannot cover their heads for driver’s license pictures .

“We recognize that freedom of religious expression is a fundamental right and must be respected,” an ICBC spokesperson said via email on Saturday. “When it comes to religious headgear and driver’s license, we strive to ensure that our policies and procedures strike a balance between respecting religious beliefs and beliefs and preserving the integrity of our system.

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“If a client’s headgear is not worn for religious purposes or due to medical treatment, we ask them to remove their headgear for their driver’s license or BCID photo. “

Smith calls on ICBC to remove the requirements for answering “sassy” questions about personal beliefs or faith regarding photos and headgear.

“Recognize that a profession of faith is sufficient to guarantee the full exercise of constitutional rights,” he said.

He has not received a response from the court and said he will attempt a second extension of his temporary license, which is due to expire on December 29.

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