By Julie Zauzmer
When Yvonne Allen went to renew her driver’s license, she wasn’t expecting to discuss the Bible. But she soon found herself trying to defend her Christian beliefs.
Allen takes literally the words of 1 Corinthians in the New Testament: “If a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off.” She never goes out in public without a colorful scarf wrapped around her hair.
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.”
With tears welling up in her eyes, Allen eventually removed her headscarf that day to get the license that she needs to drive to work and to take her children to school. But now she’s suing for the right to wear her religiously sanctioned headgear in her driver’s license photo, just as Muslim women can do in Alabama.
In the lawsuit Allen filed on Tuesday with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, she claimed that Lee County Probate Judge Bill English, who oversees driver’s licenses in the county, and chief clerk Becky Frayer violated her constitutional right to be treated the same as someone of a different religion would be.
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