Wednesday, June 07, 2006

War hero denied religious symbol on grave marker

Stand Up, Stand Up for Wicca - Christianity Today Magazine
Amidst a sea of memorial plaques at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery, one space remains blank.

That space is waiting to be filled by a plaque honoring the life and sacrifice of 34-year-old Sgt. Patrick Stewart, who was killed in action on September 25, 2005, when his helicopter was struck with a rocket-propelled grenade as it flew over Afghanistan. But it may be some time before Sgt. Stewart is remembered with a memorial plaque. That's because his war widow and the Department of Veterans Affairs are at odds over the Stewart family's request to have the Wiccan pentacle, a five-pointed star surrounded by a circle, placed on the plaque. As of May 31, 2006, government officials have refused to allow the Wiccan symbol to be placed on Stewart's plaque.

Sgt. Stewart identified himself as belonging to the Wiccan faith.

Now personally I consider Wicca to be downright silly. But it was Sgt. Stewart's identified faith. We still have freedom of religion in this country. And Sgt. Stewart's widow is right to stay firm on this. And the Department of Veterans Affairs is wrong.

I don't care if a service member self-identifies as Bokononist (a fictitious religion Kurt Vonnegut Jr. introduced in Cat's Cradle), a Wiccan, or even a Satanist. He's an American, he's entitled to have his religious symbol on his grave marker. And if the Department of Veterans Affairs puts other religious symbols on grave markers, it should put whatever symbol denotes the servicemember's religion, even if that religion is not mainstream.


At 4:35 PM, Blogger Jason said...

So what symbol do you put on a grave marker for someone who believes in "The Force?"

At 3:57 PM, Blogger Naaman said...

Duct tape. It has a Light side and a Dark side, and it binds the universe together....

At 1:18 AM, Anonymous Lady Rebel aka Rachael said...

LOL, good Star Wars humor :D

At 5:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Force" or "Jedi" is not a recognized religion by the US armed forces at this time. Wicca is. Some of you may find Wicca "silly" but please be aware that many of the Pagan traditions have roots that pre-date Christianity by thousands of years. Celtic Paganism, for example, has written references and oral histories that pre-date Christianity in the British Isles by at least 3,000 years. Paganism is also the source of a great many "traditional" holiday celebrations. Christmas trees, presents, the easter bunny, colored eggs, May poles, and Dia de los Muertos, just to name a few. The US armed forces recognize Wiccan as a religion, and allow it to be stamped on dog tags. Chaplins are required to provide space and materials for Wiccan rituals. The VA is dragging it's feet for no other reason than religious bigotry. A harm to any constitutional freedom harms us all. Soldiers (and most politicians) take an oath to "Protect and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic" - It is truly a pity that the executive branch seems determined to gut our consitutional rights.

Former US combat soldier (Desert storm), step-father of US combat soldier, friend of US combat soldiers.

At 2:22 PM, Anonymous Paul TN said...

Wow, what a blatant mis-representation of our constitution. No where in the constitution is there any freedom for pagan religions to defile our country.

The only discussion around this subject at the founding of our nation was that no Christian religion was to be made into a national church.

There was no desire to give equal access to the pagan religions of the world. I would love it, if anyone could produce a quote from a leader in America between 1750 - 1850 who says anything about pagan religions being equal with Christianity.

The reason behind this was not to discriminate against other religions. The reason, was that most of the leaders were Christians and understood their responsibility to acknowledge and honor the God of the Bible.

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At 6:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually you need to do your research because Christianity was originally just a cult which developed from the previous cult of Mithraism. All religions are cults. If you choose to believe that one religion is valid then you are automatically obligated to acknowledge the validity of all other religions. In other words if Christianity is a valid religion than there is no such thing as a pagan religion. They must all be valid!

At 6:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I meant to say from the previous cult of Mithraism among others.


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