Respecting religious beliefs is a cornerstone of any modern society. Everyone has a right to wear whatever they want on their head in accordance to their private beliefs and the case of Obi Canuel vs. the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia (essentially the BC DMV) is no exception.
You see Canuel is a practicing minister of Pastafarianism and believes that wearing a colander on his head will give him a more pleasant afterlife. A year ago Canuel took a picture for his driver’s license in full Pastafarian regalia because his god tells him it should be so. This belief is on par with approximately all major religious that require some sort of headgear, from Judaism to the NFL.
But the ICBC wasn’t having it. The government-run organization, which has rules against religious discrimination in its guidelines (“ICBC affirms your rights to religious expression. You will not be asked to remove any headgear that does not interfere with facial recognition technology as long as it is worn in conjunction with religious practice, or is needed as a result of medical treatment.”), has refused Canuel a license for a year and has stopped assigning him interim licenses. In short, they’re saying “Grow up, you nerd. Pastafarianism isn’t a religion and you’re just being petulant.”
But Pastafarianism is a religion and Canuel practices it. It is adamant about protecting his rights. He told the Vancouver Sun:
If the Internet has done anything for culture it’s slowly eroded the core of religious belief. Whether this is good or bad, the Internet is an excellent tool for exposing some of the hypocrisy associated with religion. As Will Durant wrote, efforts like Canuel’s gnaw “at the heart of faith until all the props and ribs of the medieval structure would crack and break, and leave the soul of man round and tottering on the brink of reason.” Durant was, sadly, talking about the 13th century and Dante, but the same holds true here.
The world is getting weirder. It is the same weirdness that surfaced in Dante’s time during the transition from barbarism to reason and it’s the same weirdness that came during the transition from polytheism to monotheism. To ignore — nay, refuse to celebrate that weirdness is hypocrisy. Anyone with a brain knows Canuel is proving a point. But that point is not that religious headgear is stupid. His point is that everyone should be allowed to wear it if some are allowed.
Here’s hoping the ICBC are touched by His Noodly Appendage and that Canuel gets his photo. After all, it would be terrible if Canada became a bastion of pasta-based intolerance. The maintenance of our religious freedom – or freedom from religion – depends on his success.