Ore. man wears fox hat in DMV photo, cites religious exemption
PORTLAND, Ore. —
The DMV isn't exactly everyone's favorite place to be, and that's especially true for a Portland man.
He goes by Bishop, and says his ordeal began last summer when he went to the DMV to get his license renewed. He chose to wear a hat with a fox on it for the photo to honor his religion.
"I'm a practitioner of the Seven Drums religion. It's one of the Nez Perce religions where we all have an animal totem," Bishop explained.
His animal is a fox, so he wears the hat as a symbol of that spirit wherever he goes.
The DMV office let him wear it when he took the picture. He thought everything was fine, until the application went through processing.
"Then, down at the state office where all the IDs go through review, a gentleman saw my ID and thought I was just wearing some silly hat," Bishop said.
Bishop says his renewal was denied, leaving him without a license for nine months.
"Religious freedom is one of the foundational [sic] principals of the United States. It's one of the things that makes our country the greatest country on the earth," Bishop's lawyer Bradley Steinman said.
Bishop says his religious freedoms were violated, so he teamed up with Steinman to fight back.
David House, a spokesman for the DMV says they were just following protocol.
"So, for our facial recognition software to work, we need people to remove any hat or facial gear that obscures their face," House explained.
House has never heard of a case citing this specific religion, but says the DMV does its best to accommodate everyone.
Bishop eventually won his appeal, but now he wants to warn others to stick up for their rights no matter what it takes.
"It shouldn't matter if you wear a yarmulke or a hijab or, 'a silly fox hat,' as the man at the DMV wants to call it," Bishop said.