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.