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Tipsheet

Christian Woman Sues For Right To Cover Hair In ID photo

In Alabama, some women are permitted to wear headscarves in their photo ID pictures. As one woman--who also covers her hair for religious reasons--found out in December, this doesn't include non-Muslims. Yvonne Allen, a Christian who covers her hair in accordance with 1 Corinthians 11:6 is now suing the Lee County probate judge for a religious accommodation to cover her hair in her ID photo.

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Allen does not appear in public with her hair uncovered and usually wears a wrap. Her face is entirely visible, but her hair is not.

The Washington Post has more:

But when she sat down for her driver’s license photo, that wasn’t okay with the clerk in Auburn, Ala. The clerk demanded that Allen take off her headscarf and, as Allen recalls it, when she started to refuse, the clerk asked her if she wears the scarf for religious reasons. “Yes, ma’am,” Allen said.

“Are you Muslim?” Allen recalls the woman asking her. When Allen said she was Christian, she says the clerk replied, “Only Muslim women have the right to cover their hair in their driver’s license photos.”

While it may be unusual for a Christian woman to cover her hair in public, it's important to note that Muslims do not hold a monopoly on religious head coverings. Some Orthodox Jewish women, as well as Amish and Mennonite women, wear some sort of head covering in public. Further, if the religious accommodation already exists for certain women and it has not compromised the usefulness of the ID card, it makes sense to extend it to all women. Nobody of any religion should receive any sort of special rights exclusive to that religion.

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Additionally, I have issues with allowing a county official to decide about the validity of one's religious belief system, be it Christian, Muslim, Pastafarian, whatever. Some Christians cover their heads. Most don't. It isn't a county official's role to decide whether or not Allen's beliefs are acceptable. I think that Allen has a solid case.

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