As you might have heard, Austria recently issued one of its citizens a driver’s license in which the man is pictured wearing a plastic colander on his head. The headgear is a nod to the satirical religion of “Pastafarianism.” Yet while most people took this as a stunt aimed at garnering laughs, Nico Alm’s actual intent was to challenge Austrian law that allows religious exemption to the regulations barring head coverings from official identification photographs. Alm expected his request to be denied, which would bolster his belief that the exemption discriminates against non-religious citizens.

Austin Dacey uses all of this as a launching point for his latest essay on Religion Dispatches, in which he writes:

What is religious freedom? Does it entitle some people to special protection under the law, and if so, which people? We can persist in drawing increasingly arbitrary lines between Rastafarian and Pastafarian, between the Church of Jesus Christ, Scientist and the Church of Scientology, or we can join the few pioneering scholars of religion and the law who have found another way. The solution is that no one is entitled to religious freedom because there is no such thing as religious freedom.

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