***Dave does a pretty good job of writing up the injustice being done to the memory of one recently deceased American soldier so I’ll keep my comments brief. It involves this Washington Post story about a woman who’s been fighting with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to have a pentacle placed upon her dead husband’s, Sgt. Patrick D. Stewart, memorial marker at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley, Nevada. So far the department has refused to allow it despite having approved a number of other symbols:
The department has approved the symbols of 38 other faiths; about half of are versions of the Christian cross. It also allows the Jewish Star of David, the Muslim crescent, the Buddhist wheel, the Mormon angel, the nine-pointed star of Bahai and something that looks like an atomic symbol for atheists.
I was surprised to read that atheists are allowed a symbol. Apparently it’s the American Atheists logo, which I’m not overly fond of myself. There’s been a number of suggestions for an atheist symbol from various folks and I think I like the null set one ∅ the best, but that’s just me. The point being that I’m stunned that atheists (who aren’t members of a religion) are allowed a symbol and Wiccans aren’t.
This is especially surprising considering that Roberta Stewart, the soldier’s widow, has had the backing of a number of people including no less than a Senator:
Retired Army Chaplain William Chrystal, a United Church of Christ minister who was chaplain of Stewart’s National Guard unit, has strongly backed Roberta Stewart’s request.
“It’s such a clear First Amendment issue, I can’t even conceive of why they are not granting it, except for political reasons,” he said. “I think the powers that be are afraid they’ll alienate conservative Christians if they approve a symbol that connotes witches and warlocks casting spells and brewing potions.”
Nevada’s congressional delegation, including Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D), also has supported Roberta Stewart.
It’s a real kick in the teeth to think that this guy signed up to fight for his country only to be denied in death the symbol of his chosen religion on his memorial. Hell his dog tags even listed him as Wiccan so why all the fuss over his marker? Perhaps the following sheds some light on the issue:
But letters printed by Nevada newspapers indicate how much hostility Wiccans face. “I don’t see how anything that supports witchcraft and satanism can legitimately be called a religion,” one reader wrote to the Reno Gazette-Journal.
Ignorance and bigotry win the day yet again.