Friday, March 24, 2006

So Mote It Be!

It's about time:

Feds weigh allowing Wiccan symbols on govt.-issued grave markers

Scripps Howard News Service

"In a step interpreted as partially smoothing the way for Pentacle approval, the VA's National Cemetery Administration amended a rule last October that had been a bureaucratic roadblock. Until then, applicants had to submit a letter from a "recognized central head" of the faith attesting to the fact that the requested symbol in fact represented the religion.

"But because the Wiccan faith and its related sects are substantially decentralized, that requirement was essentially impossible to meet. Now, the National Cemetery Administration asks for a letter from 'a recognized leader.'"

This battle for recognition by the VA has gone on far too long. The military has Wiccan chaplains, and puts the religious affiliation on its dog-tags -- what was the deal with the VA's National Cemetary Administration?

I'm really tempted to give the razzberry to the stated argument that it's because they couldn't find a central leader. Atheists don't have a central leader, either, but they got their recognition a long time ago!

I think it was a combination of laziness and fear.

Look at the first sentence in the article: "While President Bush laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, a self-declared witch embarked on a clandestine mission to mark a grave most dear to her."



How is it that, almost every time you read about a Witch, a Wiccan, a Druid, or other Pagan, they are almost always described as self-declared? As if they're the only ones doing it, and everybody else is just going along with them, humoring them? Like idiot children who don't know any better, but nobody wants to upset them because you never know what kind of a fuss they'll make?

You never see anyone from another religion described as a "self-declared Catholic", or "calls himself a Muslim," or ever "refers to himself as an atheist."

It's okay for Pagans to be drafted, or to volunteer for military service; to be sent overseas into the danger zone, to fight and possibly die for a cause that our government says it believes in; to pay taxes, to consume goods, to make and spend money like everyone else...

When do Pagans get the recognition that we are people, too?


Blogger JeanC said...

The really annoying thing is, the government agency HAS had paperwork from the ATC in regards to the symbol, but they've been stalling on the whole issue, I will guarantee you because of fundies in the organization.

The "self-declared" thing has been a bug in my ear for years. Several years back Canadian media pulled that one when Starhawk and I think Matthew Fox were busted for protesting the Clayoquot Sound clearcutting. The were identified as "an alleged witch and a catholic priest". Hmmm, why not "alleged catholic priest"? Why is she alleged and he isn't. "Self-styled" is right up there too.

Friday, March 24, 2006 2:07:00 PM  
Blogger Dez said...

The Church of Satan, on the other hand, has been recognized as an official religion by the US Army since 1978. (see DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY PAMPHLET NO. 165-13, RELIGIOUS REQUIREMENTS AND PRACTICES of Certain Selected Groups, A HANDBOOK FOR CHAPLAINS)

Though often aligned with paganism, the CoS is not a pagan religion.

Friday, March 24, 2006 5:30:00 PM  
Anonymous stageleft said...

"When" will depend on when the conventionals in power either get over, or are forced to at least deal with, their stupid and unfounded fear of covens of witches dropping household pets and domestic livestock into cauldrens of boiling oil.

Saturday, March 25, 2006 7:47:00 AM  
Blogger Chimera said...

Jean: I remember the incident with Starhawk and Matthew. There was also another incident, a few years previous to that, wherein a local Witch was running for political office -- until he was "outed" by a newspaper reporter who had done a story on him a few years previous. Fact is, Sam was never in the broom closet, but the way it was reported made it seem like he was trying to hide. (And on a side note, knowing Sam for a number of years, just the thought that he might want to hide, rather than garner all the publicity he could find, made me roll all over the floor, laughing). The fact that he is a Witch had nothing to do with his politics, but nobody wanted to hear that.

So, his candidacy got pulled by his political party -- the NDP! Not some right-wing bible-thumpers, but the NDP!

He sued. He won. Non-disclosure agreement, of course. But there were some wild stories in the local media about it. I kept the newspaper clippings and the magazine pieces for awhile, but the sound bites from television were the most sensational stuff: local opposition politician Grace McCarthy saying that if he was elected, at least we'd have our horrendous parking problems solved -- brooms don't take up that much space!

Dez: I knew that Satanism is also recognized by the US military, but wasn't sure how long ago it was accepted. I have occassionally wondered how an Army chaplain, having to sub for a magister (is that the correct term?), would go about it, exactly. Say, a priest, and the only chaplain in the field, all of a sudden finding himself having to minister to a a Satanist.

That kind of possibility must give some of them

SL: Given the stupid and ungraceful way the entire world recently "handled" the cartoon thingie, I don't think any of us should be holding our breath while waiting for the enlightenment of the masses! I sometimes think that an exception to "no religion in school" should be made -- a comparative religion course taught sometime around grade six or seven, in which all thirteen (or is it now fourteen?) major religions are encapsulated and taught to the students, and no one is excepted (a passing grade would be required for graduation). Universities have this as an elective, but that is far too late. Fundamentalists of all religious stripes are going to keep killing one another unless and until we can teach our children at an early enough age that the beliefs of one people do not make them enemies of another people.

Well, that was long-winded. Maybe I should have turned it into another post...

Saturday, March 25, 2006 11:36:00 AM  
Anonymous stageleft said...

I'm not gonna hold my breath, I happen to enjoy life and not breathing for that long would not be condusive to a longer life :-)

As long as the mainstream religions are allowed to spread their stupidity and idiocy these issues will continue to dog both us and society. I have long been a proponent of teaching about religions in school, unfortunately, unless there is a court case somewhere, that too will have to wait until the mainstream gets over their stupidity and fear.

Sunday, March 26, 2006 8:46:00 AM  

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