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If the thought of posing for the DMV without your "spiritual antenna" scares you more than walking around in public naked, we have some welcome news out of Millinocket, Maine. Goat horns are now considered religious attire, and, as long as they don't obscure your face, you're free to wear them when you get your driver's license photo snapped.
"Many practicing Pagans are afraid of being public," Phelan Moonsong told the Washington Post, "but when they see my horns it reminds them it's okay to be yourself." Now, anyone who checks his driver's license will get the same reminder.
It wasn't a primrose path to Pagan portraiture, per Moonsong. He contends staff at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in Bangor refused to issue him an ID unless he removed the horns, or, in the alternative, he'd need to clear the horns with Maine's secretary of state. "She told me that I had to send in some documentation or religious text to show why it was required for me to have my horns on," Moonsong told the Post. "I said, 'Okay, I'll go ahead and do that,' but it seemed like an onerous requirement."
"As a practicing Pagan minister and a priest of Pan, I've come to feel very attached to the horns, and they've become a part of me and part of my spirituality," Moonsong added. "The horns are part of my religious attire." Moonsong says he sent in the requested documentation, but spent months waiting for a response. But after telling the BMV that he was in contact with the ACLU, Moonsong's license arrived a few days later.
A spokeswoman for the Maine secretary of state disputes that version, telling the Bangor Daily News that Moonsong had not mentioned that the horns were a part of his religious practice when he first visited the BMV. "He did not cite religious reasons," said Kristen Muszynski. "There are exceptions for religious headdress."
Charles Haynes, founding director of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute, confirmed that general rule with the Washington Post. "[I]f the person's religious garb doesn't cover the face or obstruct law enforcement," Haynes said, "those folks are likely to win [religious accommodation lawsuits]."
Feel naked without your goat horns on? Fear not -- the face on your driver's license can feature your favorite forehead flourish.
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