Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), Motor Vehicle Division, allowed 36-year-old Sean Corbett to wear a metal colander as a headpiece when his state driver’s license photo was taken. The state agency also sent Corbett his valid license. Now, however, Doug Nick, spokesman for ADOT has issued a statement that agency officials will go through the process and pull “this credential” – Corbett’s photo and license.

Corbett, who is an Uber and a Lyft driver by trade, was elated to receive his official ID, recognizing him as a legal driver in the state.

His license arrived in the mail on Tuesday, featuring the photo of him wearing the pasta strainer. He adheres to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Pastafarianism, by wearing the headpiece in recognition of his religion, one that holds the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) as its deity. He is a practicing Pastafarian.

Corbett's mission for freedom from persecution over religion

Since 2014, Corbett has been snubbed, yelled at, and shunned when going to motor vehicle locations before talking with a manager at one of the sites and receiving approval for his photo to be taken. Previously, agency officials were angry at him, he said, and they treated him with “such disrespect.”

He was excited and felt victorious when his official license arrived – with his photo.

He explained that, in the world today, people are persecuted for their religious beliefs. He, however, thinks it’s time to step back and acknowledge that persecution over religion should not be happening.

The statement released by ADOT’s spokesman Nick, it says the state’s license and photo IDs are intended to show a person’s “typical daily appearance,” allowing both medical needs and religious expression.

The photos are filtered – through Facial Recognition Software. If there is an error, the photo can be voided.

Fighting against discrimination

Corbett said he is going to fight ADOT’s plan to pull his driver license (with photo) because there is not valid reason to void it. His hopes to assist in paving the way so that people can wear what they want – such as a turban or hijab – and not face the resistance that he has encountered.

He said it’s a terrible feeling and it’s one that people should not have to experience.

People should not be “bullied,” he further stated, because their religious beliefs are not the same as other people’s religions. His quest is in the name of religious freedom. Pastafarianism is a legally recognized religion in New Zealand and in the Netherlands.

In response to ADOT’s comments, Corbett has issued a statement on the FSM’s official website. He affirms that he is a true a dedicated believer in Pastafarianism and that it is crucial to understand religion is a protected class under the Civil Rights Act. Additionally, he says, no one has the right or authority to cherry-pick whether a religion is approved.

While his driver’s license is current and valid, and ADOT wants him to surrender it and have his photo retaken sans colander. Corbett has assured Arizona’s state agencies that his photo does not interfere with facial recognition software. Since his ID clearly shows his face, there is no error.

According to Corbett, ADOT is discriminating against his religion. As a result, he has spoken with ADOT’s civil rights department. A representative familiar with current events, is working with him to determine what steps are necessary to continue his fight for religious freedom and expression.

If Corbett succeeds in his quest to uphold his religious beliefs, and his adherence to FSM tenets, his license will be valid in the state of Arizona for 65 years from the date it was originally issued. Though the license itself will not expire, he would have to have a vision screening and his photo would need to be updated – every 5 years post age 60.