Sunday, December 03, 2006

Wiccans Win Some Equality From Uncle Sam

From this morning's Daily News, we learn that Roberta Stewart has finally won the right to place a Wiccan symbol on her husband's grave.

RENO, Nev. (AP) -- The widow of a soldier killed in Afghanistan saw a Wiccan symbol placed on a memorial plaque for her husband Saturday, after fighting the federal government for more than a year over the emblem.

Roberta Stewart, widow of Sgt. Patrick Stewart, and Wiccan leaders said it was the first government-issued memorial plaque with a Wiccan pentacle - a five-pointed star enclosed in a circle. More than 50 friends and family dedicated the plaque at Northern Nevada Veterans Cemetery, about 30 miles east of Reno.

They praised Gov. Kenny Guinn for his role in getting the Nevada Office of Veterans Services to issue the plaque in September. The agency cited its jurisdiction over maintenance of the state cemetery.

Kudos to the Nevada Office of Veterans Services for finally pulling their collective heads out of their collective duffle bags.

It's a win for the establishment clause, and a win against religious discrimination. If Uncle Sam is going to recognize one, he needs to recognize them all. I know that will piss off the fundies who think that only their religion should get recognized, but that only sweetens the win.

The DoD is still not on board, however.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes more than 30 symbols, including more than a dozen variations of the Christian cross and the atomic whirl used by atheists, but not the pentacle.

VA officials have said they are rewriting rules for approving emblems, but the process requires a public comment period.

Last month, Americans United for Separation of Church and State sued the VA on behalf of Stewart and others for its refusal to include the Wiccan emblem.

"Our people are on the front line in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it's not right they're not getting equal treatment," said the Rev. Selena Fox, one of the Wiccan organizers of the event.

About 1,800 active-duty service members identify themselves as Wiccans, according to 2005 Defense Department statistics. Wiccans worship the Earth and believe they must give to the community. Some consider themselves "white" or good witches, pagans or neo-pagans.

Stewart and four other soldiers died Sept. 25, 2005, when their Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan.

Look, let's be honest. There is exactly one reason why this is even an issue. Fundy Christians think Wiccans are Satan worshippers and should be burned at the stake. Truth is, most Wiccans don't even believe in Satan as far as I can tell.

Wicca is a religion that's all about embracing the planet we live on. They're nature worshipers, and they seem to practice their religion by having lots of indiscriminate sex outside. I'm pretty OK with that. It's all about the Peace, Love, Joy, and Togetherness thing. I'm REALLY REALLY OK with that.

Go Tree Huggers! - gimme some o' that old time Sex-Magick!

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