Phelan MoonSong, a horn-sporting Pagan, made headlines across Maine after he received an identification card after being rejected by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles office in Bangor last week. The controversy stems from MoonSong’s religious headdress; a pair of horns symbolic of his Pagan beliefs.
“Had my first pic [sic] taken at the Bangor BMV where the asked me send in doc to get it approved..was never told it was rejected till I called back last week,” MoonSong said in a Facebook message.
MoonSong said that he mailed them a personal essay about Paganism. As of Dec. 7, Kristen Muszynski, the Secretary of State spokesperson, said neither the Bureau of Motor Vehicles office in Bangor nor the Secretary of State received it.
Muszynski also said that MoonSong did not say the horns were religious during his initial visit.
“He did not cite religious reasons,” Muszynski said. “There are exceptions for religious headdress.”
MoonSong said that he told the BMV that he was “an ordained Pagan minister.”
When contentious photos are taken for identification, they are sent to the Secretary of State’s office for approval. When he was visiting Portland on unrelated matters, he visited the Bureau of Motor Vehicles office in Portland and was approved for an ID.
Senior Section Manager at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles Rhonda Boynton said that she didn’t know much about the particular incident,
“From what I understand, they have to have a reason to put something on their head,” Boynton said. “We ask what the religion is, and if we can’t determine it is a true religion, it goes to Augusta.”
MoonSong changed his name in June and didn’t have any forms of identification with his legal name, making it hard for him to bank and travel.
“I have used it Publicly [sic] as my name (except in legal matters) since 2007 when I was initiated in a Coven,” MoonSong said.
Muszynski said that there is no documentation that is required to prove religion.
“Documentation is not something that we formally require,” Muszynski said. “But, I can’t speak for the customer serviceperson.”
As far as guidelines, the state of Maine followed a set of guidelines from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA). The AAMVA guideline on “Pose” states:
“The portrait 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.”