Feds Weigh Allowing Wiccan Symbols on Grave Markers

PentacleI decided to archive this article by Lisa Hoffman, from the Scripps Howard News Service, mostly without comment. I think the story speaks for itself, and says volumes about the equality or in-equality of the treatment of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. You would think those in question could have their beliefs honored, having given all for their country.

I will quote freely from the article below for the benefit of those who don’t wish to visit the actual article or the Watch Alert archived post.

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.

It was 2003, and neo-pagan high priestess Rosemary Kooiman, 75, was determined that the gravesite of her recently departed husband, Abraham, bear a Pentacle as the symbol of the Wiccan faith the two shared.

Unlike thousands of headstones bearing a Christian cross, Jewish Star of David, Islamic Crescent and Star, or other religious emblems, Abraham Kooiman’s had none because the Department of Veterans Affairs does not permit symbols of Wicca and related pagan sects to be depicted on government-issued stones or markers.

Taking advantage of the attention turned elsewhere that day, Rosemary Kooiman affixed a vinyl Pentacle – a five-pointed star within a circle – to the gravesite of her husband, a decorated World War II combat veteran.

That guerrilla action by Kooiman came as part of a decade-long battle by those of her faith to bring recognition to troops and veterans who are Wiccans and believers in other “nature” religions.

Long wrongfully tagged by the misinformed as being Satan worshippers or the casters of evil spells, they say their ancient religion is a peaceful, benign one centered on celebrating nature through rituals, meditations and other spiritual practices.

Why then, they ask, has their religion been snubbed when more than 30 others _ including such relatively obscure ones as Seicho-No-Ie, Eckankar, Sufism and Humanism _ are permitted? Even atheists have their own approved symbol, which features an atom and the letter “A” in the center.

That crusade may be nearing an end. The Veterans department said this week that it is nearing a decision on several requests for memorial markers adorned with Pentacles, including one from the widow of a National Guardsman killed in a helicopter attack in Afghanistan.

I think that about sums it up. It really would be nice if all religions were honored equally in the United States. But, of course, America has a long history of inequality.

Read full article.

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