The separation of church and state are definitely important, and there are absolutely places where it should be challenged. But in terms of the licence photo, I actually might tend towards agreeing with your opponent these days. Or at least, seeing their side. I'm not sure it's the worst thing either way (as long as we aren't undermining law enforcement by making the licence photos unusable). But I think there is a bit of hypocrisy in it.
I do think religions should have some legal considerations, but only insofar as to protect freedom of belief and practice. So taking the license photo example, the government wants no hats or anything because they just want the most basic picture of someone, clearly showing their face, so that we can identify people, make sure they are who they are, etc. Now, if someone needs to wear a head covering at all times (or at least in public), for their religion or culture, that makes sense to me to stay on for the license since any time it would really come up, they'd be wearing it. Granted, if you're wearing a colander or what have you in a license photo, it probably won't make much difference either.
I guess the thing is that an easy way to interpret the colander license ID action is that someone who does not have sincere religious beliefs is asking for an exemption on religious grounds. So, if this is a political statement, isn't the political statement "everyone should have access to exemptions regardless of their sincerity?" Or, more dangerously, "only those who can prove a consistent, sincere belief should have access to exemptions?" But, taking the former, if everyone gets exceptions, there's no point to having the rules or laws in the first place. So if the next logical thing is to just have the laws without exceptions, it seems possible that basic religious freedom might be trampled in certain cases. Or at least a great deal of angst might exist where it could easily be avoided.
As for tax exemption, do religions get different tax exemption from charities and other non-profits? I always figured they were all 503(c)1 organizations, religious or otherwise.
So, I suppose what I'm saying is if you want a religious exemption, it should be for a real, sincere religious belief (which I believe is totally possible for Pastafarianism, though perhaps rare). That's just my opinion though, and it certainly depends on what the religious exemption is.
That is, FSM (regardless of sincere belief) is perfect for pointing out when religions are wrongly privileged and muddy the lines between church and state. Teaching creatinoism in public schools is the prime example of this. That's not even a "religious exemption" though, because they only way they can even hack it is by pretending to be science, which they aren't. So really, maybe Pastafarinism is more about pointing out what is and isn't science and shouldn't worry so much about religion. Still, my point is that I do think there are political statements about separation of church and state that can and should be made with Pastafarianism. I just question whether license photos (unless for sincere belief/practice, like if you actually wear a colander or pirate hat everywhere) is actually an effective and meaningful exercise of that.
Lastly, I'm curious if people (in general) are not aware that religions get special benefits when applied for. It seems so fundamental to much of the legal system in america, even the uneducated should have some experience with the practice. I think most people are aware of it, they just don't have a problem with it (at least in principle, or re: license photos, specific implementation may not always be perfect).
Just my $0.02!
EDIT: just read the other thread about your efforts in the UK. So, first I apologize for assuming this was happening in America, I'm certainly less educated on separation of church and state in the UK. But my main question is the same, how sincerely do you hold the Pastafarian beliefs, and what exactly are those to you anyway? I think the contradiction might be in asking for religious exemptions, and trying to argue that Pastafarianism is a religion that should be entitled to similar exemptions, yet at the same time trying to make the point that religions should not get exemptions. Perhaps it would be more of a statement to say "This is my religion, and we don't need no stinkin' exemptions." Also, just a question for Pastafarians in general: do we seek religious exemption so that we will be recognized as a religion, or do we seek recognition as a religion to get access to exemptions? Do we in fact need any exemptions?