Pagan priest wins battle to wear horns in ID photo

Phelan MoonSong doesn't see any problem with wearing horns on his head.

"I consider them part of my religious wear," he told Thursday.

But the state of Maine had some problems with the protuberances and told MoonSong, who is a pagan priest, that the horns would have to go for the official photo on his state identification card.

The retired tech employee politely explained his religion, and he was given an envelope addressed to the secretary of state, and told to appeal the decision and explain his beliefs, he said.

Which he dutifully did in the middle of August. "I waited," he said. "I was patient."

Last month, he picked up the phone and called the secretary's office, only to be told his appeal had been rejected.

He really needed that ID because "in today's world, without a photo ID, you can't really do much." He can't drive because of health difficulties, so the state identification card would be his only official document with a photo attached.

He recently changed his name to reflect his paganism, which was why he was applying for a new ID card, and having his photo taken.

Despite being turned down, he didn't give up.

He contacted the Maine Civil Liberties Union. He went back to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and again asked for his photo to be taken. This time, the clerk took his picture and sent him on his way.

His new card arrived last week.

He's not sure why his last visit to the BMV went fine. He's just glad to have a government-issued photo ID.

He doesn't wear his horns 100 percent of the time, he said. But he does tie them on his head when he goes out in public.

"A lot of people stare, especially children," he said. His horns act as his "spiritual antennae," he explained.

"Some people ask if I worship the devil," he said. But he sees that as positive because it "gives me a chance to explain my beliefs – I don't even believe in the devil."

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