A pagan priest who fought the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in Maine to wear horns in his license photo has won his battle on religious grounds.
Phelan Moonsong, 56, refused to take his two goat’s horns off his head after the BMV in Bangor told him that he would have to remove them for the picture, the Washington Post reported.
“As a practicing pagan minister and a priest of Pan, I’ve come to feel very attached to the horns, and they’ve become a part of me and part of my spirituality,” Moonsong said. “The horns are part of my religious attire.”
He tried to explain to BMV officials that he was a “Priest of Pan” who considers his horns part of his “spiritual antenna,” but officials told him that the horns would have to be approved by Maine’s secretary of state.
“She told me that I had to send in some documentation or religious text to show why it was required for me to have my horns on,” Moonsong said. “I said, ‘Okay, I’ll go ahead and do that,’ but it seemed like an onerous requirement.”
Moonsong said he sent the state a personal essay explaining the importance of his horns, along with four scholarly works related to the subject, including one titled “Pagan Religions: A Handbook for Diversity Training.”
A spokeswoman for the Maine secretary of state told the Bangor Daily News that Moonsong never mentioned the horns were for religious reasons during his first trip to the BMV.
“He did not cite religious reasons,” said the spokeswoman, Kristen Muszynski. “There are exceptions for religious headdress.”
Moonsong then appeared at the Portland BMV office with his horns in place and mentioned he was seeking the assistance of Maine’s ACLU, Religion News Service reported. His horns were approved soon after.
Moonsong was happy with the results of his efforts, not just for himself but for others who share his beliefs.
“Many practicing Pagans are afraid of being public,” Moonsong said. “But when they see my horns it reminds them it’s okay to be yourself.”