"Death is no more than passing from one room into another." – HELEN KELLER

Widows Sues The Department of Veteran Affairs

I was blog surfing yesterday and saw this posted on one. Forgive me because I can't remember exactly which blog I saw it on.

The story is that two women named Roberta Stewart, husband Nevada National Guard Sgt. Patrick Stewart who was killed last year in Afghanistan, and Karen DePolito, husband Jerome Birnbaum who was a Korean veteran that died last year, are suing the Department of Veteran Affairs. Why? The reason is simple.

It seems just about every religious symbol is allowed on a soldier's headstone except a pentacle. They don't allow a symbol of the Wicca religion on any veterans' headstone in national cemeteries because they do not recognize it as a religion which is interesting.

The military recognizes it as a religion, even though President Bush disagrees (not surprising, huh?). They allow soldiers who are Wiccans to list it on their dog tags, Wiccan organizations are allowed to hold services on military installations and the Army Chaplains Handbook includes an explanation of the religion. However, the VA has used one excuse after another to not approve the pentacle for more than nine years.

In memos and letters cited by the lawsuit, Lindee L. Lenox, director of memorial programs for the veterans agency, said the government was reviewing the process for evaluating and approving new emblems and would not accept new applications until the review was complete. The VA issued a statement Monday that outlined the procedure under way to create uniform standards under which new symbols can be accepted, but did not comment on the lawsuit itself.

DePolito is not commenting on the lawsuit but Stewart had this to say, "I'm hoping it's going to open the door to allow other pagan faiths to be approved."

Stewart also sought federal government approval to affix the pentacle to the Veterans' Memorial Wall in Nevada. Veterans officials denied the request but Nevada officials said they would erect a plaque with the symbol.

Do you think that Wicca, under the First Amendment, should be recognized as a religion in the United States?

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online

EDIT: I remember now which blog I saw the article on. It was With Sticks and Stones.


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