March 29, 2006

Wiccan Warrior Fallen

Patrick Stewart was shot down in his Chinook helicopter while on a mission in Iraq last September. Now his wife wants to honor her husband in a way that has been used to honor all such fallen warriors in his home state of Nevada. Namely, there is a memorial wall at the Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery which contains the plaques of other fallen warriors.

On the plaque is the name of each warrior and, among other things, a symbol of the person’s religion. There are 38 such symbols currently approved for use on these plaques but the Wiccan religion is not among them. I know there is considerable misunderstanding, especially among Christians, about what Wicca is all about. These notions range from vampires to Satan worshippers. While there may be some Wiccans who fall into one of these categories, Wicca is just another from of Neo-paganism or “Earth Worship.”

According to Stewart’s wife, the space for Stewart’s plaque will remain empty until and unless the symbol for the Wiccan religion is approved.

"It's discrimination," Stewart’s wife said. "They are discriminating against our religion.”

"I had no idea that they would decline our veterans this right that they go to fight for," she said. "What religion we are doesn't matter. It's like denying who my husband is."

I have to agree with Stewart’s wife. This is not an issue of religious orthodoxy but an issue of religious freedom. Patrick Stewart’s dog tags identify his religion as Wiccan why not his plaque.

This man gave his life for, among other things, religious freedom, it strikes me as profoundly hypocritical to deny this one the same freedom for which he gave his life.

Frankly, this is a clear issue of violating the constitutional requirement that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” This is a no brainer.

For now, apparently there are forms submitted and decisions pending seeking approval of the Wiccan pentacle (not to be confused with a pentagram) as one more of the officially approved symbols of religion.

If you listen to these commentaries regularly, you know what I think of Wicca, but that is irrelevant to the topic at hand. We are a pluralistic country which is supposed to pride itself on religious freedom. If this man’s symbol is not approved in short order, there should be a major stink raised. Anything less is downright un-American.


Post a Comment

<< Home