Pagan Priest locks horns with DMV, but wins right to wear religious head attire in state ID.
A pagan priest made news when he won the right to don a pair of goat horns on his head for his state identification card. Although at first he was denied, he fought against the Department, claiming it was his religious right to wear them.
Similar cases have come up regarding religious attire when Muslim women were asked to remove their hijabs, Christian women asked to remove their scarves and Pastafarians were asked to remove their colanders. However, this may be the first of its kind when a pagan priest has asked for permission to keep his religious headgear, a pair of goat horns, on his head for the shoot.
The priest, Phelan MoonSong, showed documentary evidence that he is an ordained minister of a religion which he describes as being ‘Nature-based’, with elements of polytheism and pantheism, and drawing inspiration from ancient traditions. MoonSong, 56, was asked to take off his horns when he posed for a photo that would go on his identification card.
In June, when MoonSong went to Maine’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), he was questioned about his religious beliefs and the reason for the goat horns. MoonSong, “The Priest of Pan”, explained his religious beliefs to the authorities and provided the necessary documents that proved his claims. He was asked if the horns were implanted or detachable. When MoonSong said the horns could be removed, the clerk went ahead and clicked his photo.
I met Phelan MoonSong last year. Cool guy….I'm smiling. Good for you dude. ? https://t.co/JLPvdUw59h
— Lotus Tribal Arts (@LotusTribalArts) December 7, 2016
However, the clerk said the photo could not be used without the approval of the Secretary of State. MoonSong said he was then told to mail written documents about his faith issued by a central governing body along with documentation contains guidelines and official rules pertaining to his attire.
When MoonSong said that he has no such documents or a central book on which his faith is based, however he would provide supporting sources. He then penned an essay about his beliefs and explained how his horns were no different from the habit of a nun or a Sikh turban. However, it was only when he sought the help of Maine’s Civil Liberties Union and got them involved that the BMV finally relented and he was given a State Identification Card.
The priest is currently planning to build a temple in his hometown of Millinocket.