Most people wear nice clothes and a smile in their driver’s license photo. An ordained pagan priest in Maine wore his goat horns.
Unless he’s sleeping or in the tub, Phelan Moonsong said he always wears his goat horns, but in August, he said he was told to remove his “spiritual antennae” for his ID, the New York Post reported.
Moonsong challenged the order citing his religious beliefs and pointing out that the horns do not block his face from the camera.
“[The Bureau of Motor Vehicles worker] 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 said, The Washington Post reported. “I said, ‘OK, I’ll go ahead and do that,’ but it seemed like an onerous requirement.”
A spokeswoman for the Maine Secretary of State’s office said Moonsong was allowed to wear the goat horns; however, Moonsong found out his ID was rejected in November, according to reports.
That’s when Moonsong contacted the American Civil Liberties Union, who later told him it was not going to take his case, Fox News reported.
“Generally speaking, even in states without a high level of protection, officials have to have a pretty good reason for saying no to a religious accommodation for a driver’s license photo,” Charles Haynes, the founding director of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute, told The Washington Post. “How strong that reason needs to be depends on where you live.”
Moonsong said his goat horns are no different than a hijab or turban.
Haynes added, “If the person’s religious garb doesn’t cover the face or obstruct law enforcement, those folks are likely to win.”
Moonsong received his new driver’s license last week complete with goat horns.
“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 told The Washington Post. “The horns are part of my religious attire.”