Surrey ‘Pastafarian’ battles ICBC over religious rights

Obi Canuel wants to wear a pasta strainer on his head for his B.C. driver’s licence photo.— Image Credit: CTV News

A Surrey man is waging an unusual battle against ICBC in the name of religious freedom.

CTV News is reporting that Obi Canuel, a self-described “Pastafarian,” is fighting for his right to wear a colander in his driver’s licence photo.

Canuel, who is an ordained minister in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (which has a contact address in Surrey), says ICBC is denying him the right to wear the pasta strainer on his head.

The 36-year-old says he believed he would be able to wear the kitchen accessory when he renewed his licence last fall because ICBC allows the right to religious expression.

But in a letter, the insurer told him “there is no religious requirement that prohibits you from removing the colander for the purpose of taking the photo to appear on your driver’s license.”

ICBC said its religious head covering policy strives to strike a balance between respect for the driver’s religious beliefs and a need to preserve the integrity of the licensing system.

The company told Canuel it would not issue him a new driver’s licence with a photo of him wearing the colander.

“The truth is sometimes I have the spiritual inkling to wear the colander and I don’t think ICBC should be making decisions about what kind of religious headgear is appropriate or not,” Canuel told CTV Vancouver.

Oddly, a photo of Canuel wearing the strainer on his head was approved for his new B.C. Services card.

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was created nine years ago by a U.S. man to satirize certain aspects of creationism. It follows a belief that a flying pasta creature created the universe after “drinking heavily.”

The Flying Spaghetti Monster has become a symbol against the teaching of intelligent design in the public education system.

At least four countries, including the U.S., allow “Pastafarians” to wear colanders in their driver’s licence photos.

Canuel documented his struggles with ICBC in a YouTube video:

– from CTV News