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VA: no memorial for Wiccan soldier

More ignorance about religion, this coming out of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, where the concept of someone practicing Wicca conjures visions of witches on brooms, warlocks casting spells, demon worship and all kind of BS.

The WaPo article notes that 38 religions are recognized and acknowledged on the memorial markers for fallen soldiers’ graves. But there won’t be one for Sgt. Patrick D. Stewart because the VA is freaked out by the pentacle.

Wiccans still suffer, however, from the misconception that they are devil worshipers. Some Wiccans call themselves witches, pagans or neopagans. Most of their rituals revolve around the cycles of nature, such as equinoxes and phases of the moon. Wiccans often pick and choose among religious traditions, blending belief in reincarnation and feminine gods with ritual dancing, chanting and herbal medicine.

Federal courts have recognized Wicca as a religion since 1986. Prisons across the country treat it as a legitimate faith, as do the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. military, which allows Wiccan ceremonies on its bases.

…Department spokeswoman Josephine Schuda said VA turned down Wiccans in the past because religious groups used to be required to list a headquarters or central authority, which Wicca does not have. But that requirement was eliminated last year, she noted.

“I really have no idea why it has taken so long” for the Wiccan symbol to gain approval, Schuda said.

The department declined repeated requests from The Washington Post to speak to higher-ranking officials about the issue.

What is the VA’s problem, then? Some fundie in charge? Shakes Sis echos my thoughts.

Just how much of our country are we going to sacrifice to protect the delicate sensibilities of the willfully ignorant?

Reproductive rights, LGBT equality, the Voting Rights Act, science education, stem cell research, right to die, religious freedom (for some), the separation of church and state, multiculturalism, energy independence, environmental protections—all of these are fights we shouldn’t be having, but must perpetually engage because of the deliberate and obstinate ignorance of one portion of the population who can’t be bothered to learn about or empathize with anything outside of their carefully constructed bubbles, and an opportunistic ruling political party that cynically exploits their ignorance to retain their stranglehold on power brokerage.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding