June 19, 2006, - 3:23 pm

Pentacle Military Burial: Should Wiccans Get VA Sanction?

This is what happens when the government starts recognizing a million different religions. Everyone, every cult, every belief, and even every non-belief wants their bite at the apple. It opens a pandora’s box.
The latest is with the Wiccans and their fight with the Department of Veterans Affairs (“the VA”). Should military personnel who are Wiccans get to have a pentacle symbol engraved on their government issued tombstones? (FYI, the pentacle is not the same as the symbol of Satan worshippers, who use an upside down pentacle.)
Based on information in a Gannett News Service article, probably so. Right now, that’s not the case. The Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration allows only approved emblems of religious beliefs on government headstones.

Wiccan Pentacle

The article points out that the VA recognizes 38 emblems of faith, among them emblems for Muslims and atheists. As we know, atheism is not a faith or religion. It’s hard to say that atheists is better than the Wiccan group. Ditto for the American Humanist Association, whose emblem–a stylized human figure with arms stretched upward–is also recognized by the the VA.
Also, the IRS has already granted religious tax exemptions for Wiccan “churches” and federal courts have recognized Wicca as a valid religion. And the nations armed forces have recognized Wiccans for decades, letting them practice their faith on base.
Frankly, the whole thing of recognizing some groups as religious groups by the VA smacks of Unconstitutionality and recognizing a religion. It’s a big problem, as manifest here.
Some Wiccans have served with dedication and honor in the Armed Forces:

Marine Lance Cpl. Eric Ballard says the Department of Veterans Affairs is denying him a right by not permitting him to have the pentacle — his Wiccan faith’s symbol — engraved on his government-issued tombstone when he dies.
“I serve my country and I live my religion and both are very dear to me,” said Ballard, the lay leader for Wiccans at Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. “I feel like I should be represented … as an active duty military person and as a Wiccan.”
Roberta Stewart is upset with the VA for not allowing a pentacle — a circle with an inscribed five-pointed star — to be used on a plaque for her husband, Nevada National Guard Sgt. Patrick Stewart, who was killed in Afghanistan last year.
She was told the symbol was not among the 38 emblems of faith recognized for use on VA headstones and memorials.
“Our pentacle represents our spirit and our soul,” she said. “It’s my eternal connection to my husband.”

So what’s the government to do? It’s a troubling debate. Wiccans say their religion is like that of the Native Americans. But they have witches, etc. Also, where do we draw the line? What if, someday, Satan worshippers want their symbols on their military tombstones? Can the government say no? Still, it’s hard to deny the service brave men gave their country, regardless of their beliefs.
More on Wiccan soldier Patrick Stewart who gave his life serving in Afghanistan.

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10 Responses

I collected sea shells on Omaha beach as a kid, one thing that struck me was the well manicured, consistent, rows of grave markers. The point really came home that we are all equal in death, one American soldier’s life taken in defense of his country is not lessened by another, the way it should be. And then I got a look as an adult at Arlington, Lee Marvin’s headstone is a modest gov’t issue marker, so is Pappy Boyington’s (a Congressional Medal of Honor winner), then you have some self-important ass who had to have some tacky overdone piece of turd built saying “look at how important I am!” The veterans cemetary in Westwood, California has ten times the class that Arlington will ever have. Give the devil worshipers their emblem, the whole VA system is a circus anyway.

code7 on June 19, 2006 at 10:40 pm

    Code7 – Wow, a typical unenlightened American – you shame yourself.
    If a Pagan/Wiccan Solider gives her/his life defending this country and all that is dear inside it…. maybe it would not be to much of a sacrifice to honor them in the manner they requested.
    Why should a Christian or Jewish dead solider have more rights than a Pagan/Wican?
    Do the right thing ( honor the dead and try to give peace to the grieving families left behind)- quit playing childish games religious zealots freaks.
    Blessed Be!

    PristinaChristina on October 16, 2009 at 2:23 pm

code7, wiccans don’t believe in the devil. I take from your snide remark that you do though.
Scientology, on the other hand, has its origins firmly planted in Satanism, which explains why Tom “the dyslexic action figure” Cruise is so — CREEPY!

Freudianslippers on June 20, 2006 at 12:24 am

The government has to watch it as eventually this will be taken to court and then they will be forced to put any whacko religionĂ­s logo on the headstone.
It is an easy problem to fix though. The government should not pay for any religious connotation on headstones. If someone wants it they should pay extra. The fringe religion devotees will not pay extra and will do without.

wisemonkey on June 20, 2006 at 2:27 am

Oops! You’re correct Freudianslippers about the Wiccans, I must have got my headstones (Pentacle) upsidedown. By the way, where did you get that Scientology has “its origins firmly planted in Satanism”? You creep me out more that Tom Cruise, he is harmless.
The ACLU, on the other hand, has its origins firmly planted in Satanism, which exlains why their lawyers sued to remove the WWI era cross from a Riverside, California Veterans cemetary.

code7 on June 20, 2006 at 9:45 am

I thought that only flag-rank officers were entitled to a five-point star on their headstones. Perhaps the Wiccans have to come up with a new symbol. BTW, Santerians also use a pentacle in their ceremonies, fwiu. I’m sure that neither group wants its adherents confused with the other.

chsw on June 20, 2006 at 11:26 am

LIBERALS want a big eye (as in Big Brother is watching) on their headstones because their religion is big government.
BTW, $cientology was inspired by Satanism, especially L. Ron Hubbard’s infatuation with Satanist and black magician Aleister Crowley.
Also, other Satanic cults were offshoots of $cientolgy, notably, The Process Church of the Final Judgement.

Thee_Bruno on June 20, 2006 at 1:12 pm

Wiccan = The Rodney King School of “Can’t we all just get along” Relativism. Salonicka…Salonicka…Salonicka…
I’ve heard about racists having there own religions too. Would a Swastika be ok too? Why or why not?
This is just another instance of a minute amount of “worshippers” desiring a mandated legitimization of a kook fringe beleif system to APPEAR normal.

SickBoy on June 20, 2006 at 2:28 pm

“LIBERALS want a big eye (as in Big Brother is watching) on their headstones because their religion is big government.
Posted by: SickBoy at June 20, 2006 02:28 PM”
What’s wrong with that? Better that than the cameras all over the place, spyware in P.C. computer by the NSA, wiretapping both Americans and non-Americans. I prefer the government looking at tombstones and not my home.
Let the Wiccans have their star/pentagram

KOAJaps on June 21, 2006 at 4:50 pm

“LIBERALS want a big eye (as in Big Brother is watching) on their headstones because their religion is big government.
Posted by: SickBoy at June 20, 2006 02:28 PM”
Uh, KOA, I didn’t post that comment. I would like to amend my statement/opinion, nor do I accept, or “feel”, foreign nationals deserve, regardless of their efforts in defense of the U.S.A., or will they EVER earn the right to be interred with American servicemembers in Arlington, or any other National Cemetary period. Does a Wiccan believe in “killing”? Anything? …let me go and get the United Colors of Benneton candles and fragrances, and some Rainbow Coalition of thread, to think about it ok? Maybe I’ll “feel” different after the Cow jumps over the Moon…

SickBoy on June 24, 2006 at 12:29 pm

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