Phelan Moonsong, 56, has achieved something that no pagan or non-pagan has ever achieved before him. He has been allowed to wear his ceremonial goat horns as a religious garment for his Maine driver’s license. If anything, they should eliminate any difficulty recognizing the Pagan priest.
Moonsong of Millinocket, Maine maintained that the goat horns are no different from skull caps or other religious wear — a compelling argument. He has a long history as a pagan priest and wears the horns in public.
When he first went in for the license, officials at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in Bangor told him to remove the horns. Despite his explaining how he is a “Priest of Pan,” the DMV took a distinctly non-pagan position.
He sent a challenge to the DMV including a work entitled “Pagan Religions: A Handbook for Diversity Training.” Such garments are protected generally under state laws and, as long as they do not cover the face like a Burka, they are generally allowed. The DMV eventually caved and insisted that he did not clearly state that the horns were religiously based — a dubious suggestion.
For those of you considering horns for your next license, many states follow this rule of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators guidelines: license photos “may only show the cardholder with headgear, if the cardholder is a member of a religion requiring the wearing thereof and provided that the headgear does not present as an obstruction or present a shadow and render the portrait inadequate for the identification of the cardholder.”
Moonsong said that the decision will help other pagans come “out of the closet” and presumably into DMVs around the country. Of course, there can now be some debate as to compliance with §1903 of the Maine Code:
ADEQUATE SIGNALING DEVICE; USE 1. Signaling device required. A person may not operate a motor vehicle without a suitable and adequate horn or other device for signaling.
Hopefully, the DMV will not require proof that the horn are suitable and adequate for all purposes.