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news & opinion with no titillating non-news from the major non-news channels.


I am: progressive, not a wild-eyed Progressive; liberal, but shun liberals and Liberals; conservative, but some Conservatives worry me; absolutely NOT a libertarian. I am: an idealist, but no utopian; a pragmatist, but no Machiavellian. I am a realist who dreams.


I welcome all opinions.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Reblogged: Support our Troops:
   Wiccan War Widow Threatens to Sue

From the Stars and Stripes,

The widow of a Wiccan soldier killed in Afghanistan last year says after [more than six] months of waiting, she is ready to take the Department of Veterans Affairs to court to get a pentacle engraved on her husband’s memorial plaque.

Currently the National Cemetery Administration has 38 permitted religious symbols for headstones and plaques, but none for pagans or Wiccans.

After Patrick Stewart was killed in a helicopter attack last September, his wife, Roberta, asked for the encircled five-pointed star to be put on his plaque on the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Wall in Fernley. But since the pentacle is not currently approved by the department, his space on the wall has remained blank.

Stewart said the whole process has been upsetting not just to her but also to members of her husband’s national guard unit, which returned to Nevada in March. Several of the members were outraged to find out Patrick had not yet been properly honored, and have continued to complain to her as the issue drags on.

According to 2005 Defense Department statistics, more than 1,800 active-duty servicemembers identified themselves as Wiccans.

Whether we like someone's religious preferences is irrelevant. We are not strictly a nation of Christians. We are a nation of religious tolerance. The man died serving his country. We should honor that.

Bill Chrystal, a retired Navy chaplain and friend of the Stewarts, said the VA’s continued stonewalling has caused other problems as well. He was scheduled to hold a memorial for fallen Nevada troops later this month, but was told by state Veterans Affairs officials that Roberta could not speak because of the controversy with her application.

Chrystal, who belongs to the United Church of Christ, has since backed out of the event and will take part in a protest event to highlight the Stewarts’ fight.

“What the VA has done is the very thing that the founding fathers were opposed to,” he said. “It seems to me the whole point of our system is that the government stays out of religion, but here they aren’t. It’s not the government’s job to second guess the value of a religion.”

I foresee feature stories on this, in the wake of the protest, under the Believe it or Not category, and a few late night chuckles. Maybe David Letterman could interview Mrs. Stewart. They can get Richard Belzer to opine his theories.


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