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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Peace and Justice at LAST

U.S. Says 'Yes' to Wiccan Grave Symbols

Associated Press
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Madison, Wisconsin - The Wiccan pentacle has been added to the list of emblems allowed in United States cemeteries and on government-issued headstones of fallen U.S. soldiers, according to a settlement announced Monday.

A settlement between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Wiccans adds the five-pointed star to the list of "emblems of belief" allowed on VA grave markers. Wicca is a nature-based religion based on respect for the earth, nature and the cycle of the seasons, but variations of the pentacle have been used in horror movies as a sign of the devil - a usage not accepted by Wiccans.

"This settlement has forced the Bush Administration into acknowledging that there are no second-class religions in America, including among our nation's veterans," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which represented the Wiccans in the lawsuit.

Eleven families nationwide are waiting for grave markers with the pentacle, said Selena Fox, a Wiccan high priestess with Circle Sanctuary in Wisconsin and a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

The settlement calls for the pentacle, whose five points represent earth, air, fire, water and spirit, to be placed on grave markers within 14 days for those who have pending requests with the VA.

"I am glad this has ended in success in time to get markers for Memorial Day," Fox said. Memorial Day is celebrated in May.

The VA sought the settlement in the interest of the families involved and to save taxpayers the expense of further litigation, VA spokesman Matt Burns said. The agency also agreed to pay $225,000 (euro165,965) in attorneys' fees and costs.

The pentacle has been added to 38 symbols the VA already permits on gravestones. They include commonly recognized symbols for Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism, as well as those for smaller religions such as Sufism Reoriented, Eckiankar and the Japanese faith Seicho-No-Ie.

The American Civil Liberties Union said the agreement also settles a similar lawsuit it filed last year against the VA. In that case, the ACLU represented two other Wiccan churches and three individuals.

VA-issued headstones, markers and plaques can be used in any cemetery, whether it is a national one such as Arlington near Washington or a private burial ground.


Lynn said...

Well it's about time. One would think that family and individual choices would prevail on such matters without a fight.

I guess conformity is the price they want people to pay to participate fully?

sirona said...

They don't care about participation, they want to own the world and set all the rules. they don't give a damn about what people are thinking, feeling, experiencing. Just want more to beef up their numbers - swell the ranks. If it makes 'em happy to fill their churches with a bunch of hypocrites just to pack the house, what does that tell ya? me, I'll take my little bit of bread out to the woods, thank you!

Glenda said...

About time. What is this, a theocracy?? Oh, right.

Lily said...

Well I guess I mean that to participate in one aspect of their lives/choices (military life, and related) people have had to give up other parts of themselves (spirituality, relationships) and it does not seem like there has been a good reason for that. On the basis of what? Who does it hurt, whereas disrespecting others who have given their lives or who might seems to hurt morale and violate rights without any real rationale.

The excuse for "dont ask dont tell" has often been to link it to morale or to suggest that violence or bias would be caused by the victim and not the perpetrators to be dealt with. They would be "bringing it on themselves" I've read.I suppose they had the same sorts of excuses for religion? I dunno.

"If we acknowledge it, we are saying its ok" or it opens the door for other "crazy religions and satan worship". Well who cares about their ok? And their challenges with accomommodation? Live and let live, why cant people do that?

Thats the part I dont get. Whats it to me if somebody has a grave marker preference? It hurts no one.
Thats why its obviously the theocratic agenda talking.

They will continue to lie and distort religions that they feel threatened by as long as they are not taken to task.

We should view people that fight the system as the real guardians. The real protectors! I'm glad this is starting to change.