B.C. Pastafarian officially loses driver’s licence over holy colander
The future is as murky as a pot of boiling spaghetti for a Surrey, B.C. man who was once denied a driver’s licence photo because of his unusual religious headgear.
Obi Canuel, an ordained minister in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, says that the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia has now denied him a driver’s licence altogether.
The conflict began boiling last fall when Canuel tried to wear a colander on his head for a licence renewal photo. ICBC rejected him, saying it would not issue Canuel a licence unless he removed the colander.
The Surrey man fought the decision, arguing the Crown corporation allows members of other religions to wear headgear in their photos.
But the spaghetti worshipper says ICBC kept issuing him interim paper licences so he could still drive – until last week. Canuel says he doesn't know why he's no longer able to obtain the paper-only permit.
“They told me that they weren’t going to issue another interim license,” Canuel said. “I was unhappy, but I decided that I wasn’t going to give in, and it’s better to consider your noodles carefully before dinner.”
When reached for comment, a spokesperson for ICBC said the interim licence was only issued to Canuel while it considered his request, adding that interim licences are only meant to be temporary.
"We will always try to accommodate customers with head coverings where their faith prohibits them from removing it. Mr. Canuel was not able to provide us with any evidence that he cannot remove his head covering for his photo," the company said in a statement.
The decision to deny the Pastafarian a licence means he can no longer drive legally, but that might not be a bad thing, he says.
“I’ve been getting a lot of exercise. Noodles contain a lot of carbohydrates,” he says. “His noodliness would prefer if we not dwell on the negatives.”
Despite their strained relationship, Canuel says he’ll continue to fight ICBC but won’t immediately seek legal counsel.
“I would like to talk with my supporters and meditate upon the meatballs and perhaps ICBC will change their mind,” he says. “I know I’ve been accused of wasting taxpayers’ time and resources, and I know there are starchy people out there that don’t agree with his noodliness. I don’t want to annoy anyone further.”
The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was founded as a response to Christian perspectives on creationism and intelligent design. It allegedly sprang out of a 2005 open letter to the Kansas School Board, written by a man named Bobby Henderson.
Henderson offers a tongue-in-cheek attack on the concept of intelligent design, saying that if the world was created by a deity, there’s no indication that deity was the Christian God. It could just as easily have been a flying spaghetti monster.
Canuel’s ongoing fight wouldn’t exist south of the border because the United States allows Pastafarians to wear colanders in their licence photos.
“It is a strange thing when the west coast of Canada is somehow less liberal than the United States,” he says.
Canuel says he refuses to budge because he doesn’t want anyone else to feel embarrassed about their own religious expression.
But for now, it appears the conflict is going to simmer – while Canuel noodles his options.