The leader of a pasta-centred religious movement in B.C. is reviewing his legal options following his recent Supreme Court loss over his bid to wear a pirate hat in his driver’s licence photo.
Court documents show that Grand Forks’ Gary Smith, Captain of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., filed a complaint with the province’s Human Rights Tribunal (HRT) after ICBC refused to renew his licence because he’d posed for his identifying photograph wearing a tricorn hat. His coreligionists, or Pastafarians, consider it a symbol of their faith. When the HRT decided not to pursue his claim that ICBC had infringed on his Charter rights to freedom of religious expression, Smith petitioned a Rossland Supreme Court judge to review the HRT’s ruling.
Finding no provable violation under the tribunal’s Human Rights Code, Justice Gordon C. Weatherill on Feb. 26 denied Smith’s request for a judicial review.
Smith on Tuesday, March 2, said he was “certainly disappointed” by Weatherill’s ruling, adding that he has since spoken to lawyers about potential further recourse. He “absolutely feels [he’s] been persecuted” on religious grounds, he said, noting that federal authorities allowed him to be photographed for his current gun licence wearing his tricorn.
Pastafarians imbue their belief “in the infinite; in the divine; in the ineffable” in the likeness of a flying spaghetti monster dwelling “at the centre of the universe,” he explained, adding that he wears his tricorn in public every Friday as an observance of his faith.
ICBC, in a written response to The Gazette explained, “We accommodate customers with head coverings where their faith prohibits them from removing the covering, wherever reasonable and possible.”
The Church’s website nowhere mentions that Pastafarians are called to wear their tricorn at all times. However, Smith said he considers his pirate’s hat “a religious symbol, in the very same way that Sikhs use turbans to identify themselves in their communities.”
Smith said he did not intend his court challenge as an affront to any organized faith or religious movement.