The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Dishonoring Our War Dead?

if the soldier in question is Wiccan you’d be wrong.

Nevada officials are pressing the Department of Veteran Affairs to allow the family of a soldier killed in Afghanistan to place a Wiccan symbol on his headstone.

Federal officials so far have refused to grant the requests of the family of Sgt. Patrick Stewart, 34, who was killed in Afghanistan last September when the Nevada Army National Guard helicopter he was in was shot down.

“Every veteran and military member deserves recognition for their contributions to our country,” said Tim Tetz, executive director of the Nevada Office of Veterans Services.

The state’s top veterans official said Thursday that he was “diligently pursuing” the matter in cooperation with Gov. Kenny Guinn, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev.

“Sgt. Stewart and his family deserve recognition for their contributions to our country,” Tetz said.

“It’s unfortunate the process is taking so long, but I am certain Sgt. Patrick will ultimately receive his marker with the Wiccan symbol,” he said.

It’s not all that surprising when you consider how much respect has been given wiccan soldiers or wiccan’s in general for that matter. (Or that Dubya already declared that it ain’t a religion.)Back in 1999, not that long ago, Republican congressman Bob Barr declared that Wiccan soldiers shouldn’t even be allowed to worship.

U.S. Representative Bob Barr (GA-7) has demanded an end to the taxpayer-supported practice of witchcraft on military bases. Barr’s request came in response to reports that chaplains at Fort Hood, and other bases, are sanctioning, if not supporting, the practice of witchcraft as a “religion” by soldiers on military bases.

“This move sets a dangerous precedent that could easily result in the practice of all sorts of bizarre practices being supported by the military under the rubric of ‘religion.’ What’s next? Will armored divisions be forced to travel with sacrificial animals for Satanic rituals? Will Rastifarians demand the inclusion of ritualistic marijuana cigarettes in their rations?,” said Barr, in letters to military and congressional leaders.

That’s right. They can fight and die for their country, but if they want to say a prayer before the go off to war — to any non judeo-christian entity — they’d better not do it on the taxpayers’ dime. And they’d better not expect any recognition when they come back home in a box. So much for supporting the troops, at least the ones who happen to follow a different spiritual path.

I’ve blogged previously about a Wiccan girl who was hounded to the point of suicide by her classmates, and about a Wiccan couple forbidden by a judge to teach their kid their religious beliefs. Add those to the story above and it paints a picture of religious persecution — or at least religious discrimination — than you’re likely to hear talked about these days.

Want to register your disapproval? A commenter at Dispatches from the Culture Wars provided the address for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs:

Department of Veterans Affairs
Jim Nicholson
810 Vermont Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20420

Oh, and I guess it goes without saying that the surviving partners of any gay and lesbian soldiers who are killed in action (if they’re not discharged first) won’t be presented with a folded flag or the thanks of a grateful nation anytime soon.

So, on Memorial Day, what could be more appropriate than to advocate that all of our veterans be honored equally? ]]>

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