By Amy E. Feldman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – We all know that the First Amendment protects our right to freedom of religion. But how do you define “religion”?
A Utah woman said she faced surprisingly little resistance when she wore a colander on her head to have a driver’s license photo taken. The colander did not obstruct her face and, while Utah usually forbids the wearing of headgear in a license photo, it has an exception for religious garb. Her wearing of the pasta strainer, according to the woman, represents her belief in the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, known also as Pastafarian.
Yeah, while the First Amendment specifically says that the government may not establish religion, this might be a good time to ask: um, what’s a religion?
Turns out that there is no definition of what is and what is not a religion. Instead, it’s been up to the courts to interpret it.
When the Supreme Court first tried to define religion in the 1860s, it said it involved the worship of God. But, over time, the Court has revamped its definition, and has said that belief in God isn’t the hallmark of religious belief – it’s decided that secular humanism, pacifism and other beliefs can still be constitutionally protected religious beliefs.
While individuals are free to decide for themselves if they believe in pasta or not, Utah made a good decision: you wanna wear a colander? Go ahead.