In the photo on his driver's license, Niko Alm is wearing a plastic pasta strainer on his head and a serious expression on his face. The shot was taken three years ago, when Alm, an Austrian journalist and entrepreneur, decided to register his objection to a provision of law that allows headgear to be worn in official ID photos only if it is religiously motivated. He didn't receive the license until July, following a long battle with the Austrian authorities.
The colander proclaims Alm's affiliation with the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a parody religion invented in 2005 to skewer the decision to teach intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in Kansas schools. Members of the church end prayers with the word "ramen" and hope to be "touched by His Noodly Appendage."
Alm told National Public Radio the special exception for religious headgear shows that Austria "is trying to serve religion and churches without any apparent need." While he supports the right of all citizens to practice religion as they like, he prefers a "clean separation of church and state."