Civil Liberties

The Wiccans' Grave Difficulty

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After dragging its feet for a decade, the Department of Veterans Affairs this week agreed to honor requests for pentacles on military headstones. Over the years, the department has officially approved 38 religious symbols, but Wiccans were denied this courtesy until they filed a lawsuit. The discrimination was so egregious that it made allies of two groups that are often at odds over Establishment Clause issues:

"The Wiccan families we represented were in no way asking for special treatment," the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United [for the Separation of Church and State], said at a news conference Monday. "They wanted precisely the same treatment that dozens of other religions already had received from the department, an acknowledgment that their spiritual beliefs were on par with those of everyone else."…

"I was just aghast that someone who would fight for their country and die for their country would not get the symbol he wanted on his gravestone," said John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, which litigates many First Amendment cases. "It's just overt religious discrimination."

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  1. OK by me.

    Just so long as none of the lines inscribing the pentacles are broken….

  2. What, by the way, are the standards by which the U.S. Military recognizes a religion? For instance, the Church Of Paul is currently operating, and frankly, I think its discriminatory that there are no services provided by the military.

  3. Back up just a second: The Wiccans have guns?

  4. Dear God, who’s next-Mormons?

  5. As long as they don’t allow Stevie Nicks to sing at the funeral, I’m fine with it.

  6. Apparently a lot of our soliders don’t have very good saving throws.

  7. Dear God, who’s next-Mormons?

    Given that Mormons make one of the most reliably pro-military groups in the U.S. and supply a huge percentage of the linguistic staff that the military is always in short supply of, you won’t find the military doing much to tick them off. On the other hand Mormon headstones don’t have any symbols on them in the first place, so it wouldn’t be an issue in the first place.

  8. Looking at this list of headstone symbols for military graves, I have to say that the atheist symbol needs work. (In point of fact, why have one at all?) I hate for future archaeologists to stumble upon and think that the solider lying in the grave worshiped at the Church Of George Jetson.

  9. The symbol looks like Doctor Manhattan’s forehead!

  10. Priest: “The 4 hour work week has eneded, go now to love and serve Spacely’s Sprokets.”

    Congregation [in monotone unison]: “Jane. Stop this crazy thing.”

  11. “Humanist Happy Human”??? On a headstone??

  12. Christian & Missionary Alliance

    Is there a Christian & Doggie Style Alliance?

  13. “Humanist Happy Human”??? On a headstone??

    Why not? If I were a humanist soldier, I’d want my grave marker to reflect the facts that I loved humanity, and that I shot at humanity.

  14. Even the Freepers were okay with this action, but I found earlier in the week these people who have a problem. Scroll down to the third entry, which includes this sentence describing the accomodation with the wiccans:

    It is clear that modernity, not to mention postmodernity, does not possess the intellectual faculties by which they might make some discernment between religious belief that requires protection and accommodation, and inventions that promote socially destructive ideologies.

    Honestly, some days I just want to go hide under the nearest bed. How can anyone at all reasonably object to a military headstone???

  15. Hm, I don’t see the Quaker symbol.

  16. Karen, are you sure that site is serious? It reads like a parody to me. Although – cringe – it’s probably not.

  17. Sorry, Bee, I’ve been following those guys for about a year now, and yeah, they’re for real. I’m a glutton for punishment.

  18. I wondered where you’d found that link! Yeeeesh (insert Yosemite Sam groan sound there), those folks are, um, kinda nutty.

    I know I’m going to hell, but I love laughing at nutty religious websites. I found one not too long ago that offered online confession and absolution. For a fee. Awesome.

  19. Oh, me too. And I’m even religious myself. Well, if you count Presbyterian. Which most of these sites don’t. This is my personal favorite for really wacky religious sites. This poor guy needs help.

  20. I hate for future archaeologists to stumble upon and think that the solider lying in the grave worshiped at the Church Of George Jetson.

    It wouldn’t be any more crazy than people from the Onion posting in this thread.

  21. Bee | April 27, 2007, 10:56pm | #
    Hm, I don’t see the Quaker symbol.

    Quakers who end up serving in the military might end up identifying as Christian. Many families would elect to leave it blank since trappings and symbols of religiosity violate the principle of plain-ness.

    While the popular view is of Quakers as pacifists some might be surprised at the number who have elected to take up arms.

    These range from the “Free Quakers” (Isaac and Moses the oldest sons of the King’s Botanist, John Bartram are examples of those) of Revolutionary times through those who saw the need to end slavery once and for all with the Civil War and then General Smedley Butler, USMC (the Fighting Quaker – winner of two Medals of Honor) to Richard Nixon (who served in the Navy in WWII – but, then, who is rarely today claimed by Quakers as one of their own).

  22. Hm, I don’t see the Quaker symbol.

    A cannister of oatmeal?

  23. Duelling popes. A schism! Perhaps they will excommunicate each other. If that happens, he is going to need a more defensible stronghold than eastern Washington state.

  24. Am I really going to be the first to point out the obvious here?

    The reason that the pentagram was a special case is that it has much better recognition as a symbol of the evil antagonist in a major religious tradition than as a positive symbol of a minor religious tradition. To take a clearer example, would an adherent of some Eastern sect or another be allowed a swastika on his tombstone?

  25. That’s interesting, Isaac. I did not know that Quakers served in the military at all. I also didn’t know they eschewed symbols.

    I humbly withdraw my snark.

  26. To take a clearer example, would an adherent of some Eastern sect or another be allowed a swastika on his tombstone?

    Right. After all, those nasty wiccans killed millions during the 20th century.

  27. Wrong analogy, AC.

    I didn’t ask whether neo-Nazis should be allowed to use the swastika. I asked whether members of a benign spiritual tradition that also used the swastika should be so allowed.

    Your reaction really underscores my point.

  28. Lest I be condemned to the flames, let me point out that I fully support Wiccans’ right to use the symbol. I just wanted to clear the air on the notion that the conflict in question was the result of a specific anti-Wiccan bias. Perusing the previously allowed symbols should render this rather absurd. The reason there was an issue with the pentagram obviously had everything to do with a) another meaning of the symbol, which is 2) a symbol of great evil, and 3) much more strongly represented in the memepool.

  29. J Goard –

    Yes, of course they should.

  30. Yes, but it’s a symbol of evil in a fucking fantasy.

  31. Your reaction really underscores my point.

    My mistake; I fed a troll. Perhaps now you should take the position that anti-Muslim sentiment isn’t racism since Islam isn’t a race.

  32. So there ARE atheists in foxholes? No wonder the Iraq war is going badly. We need to send only good, god-fearin’ Christians off to kill our enemies.

  33. Big deal. Wake me up when the military puts the Flying Spaghetti Monster on grave markers.

    -jcr

  34. ” Hm, I don’t see the Quaker symbol.

    A cannister of oatmeal?”

    Of course you can’t see it–

    In accordance with the canons of The Society of Friends, it has been disguised as a 155 MM puffed rice howitzer.

    perhaps the Anglican atheists should opt for The Holy Hand Grenade Of Antioch and the Unitarian militants for a tasteful depiction of a kevlar featherbed.

  35. Yes, but it’s a symbol of evil in a fucking fantasy.

    In the sense that there’s no Satan, or that there’s never been major harm caused by people using the pentagram as a symbol for following Satan? I guess you mean the latter, because according to the former almost all of the positive symbols are “in a fucking fantasy” as well.

    I know, of course, that there really was mass murder by people using the swastika, and not by people using the pentagram. However, many Christians clearly do believe that the latter stands for, glorifies, and/or summons forth the world’s very real evils. Religious iconography isn’t like a favorite ice cream flavor. There are bad symbols too, and these are a big part of what people care about.

    I’m not a troll, AC, and I’m not even arguing for any discrimination. I’m just describing what I see as going on with the guvmint, and it’s not “Hey, Wicca is an especially unworthy belief system — let’s not recognize it.” It’s about the pentagram as a symbol of evil in a different (and much more prominent) iconography. If the Wiccan symbol is a tree with a W on it, there’s absolutely no way the issue reaches the lawsuit stage.

  36. “Back up just a second: The Wiccans have guns?”

    Hm. As I recall, they’re limited to wooden weapons, scimitars, daggers, slings, that sort of thing.

  37. “However, many Christians clearly do believe that the latter stands for, glorifies, and/or summons forth the world’s very real evils.”

    Yeah, but many Christians think the same about Procter & Gamble.

    Is the Pentagon supposed to empty the PXs of P&G products?

  38. I know, of course, that there really was mass murder by people using the swastika, and not by people using the pentagram. However, many Christians clearly do believe that the latter stands for, glorifies, and/or summons forth the world’s very real evils. Religious iconography isn’t like a favorite ice cream flavor. There are bad symbols too, and these are a big part of what people care about.

    The scenario regarding the Swastika is not hypothetical in Germany. Many Hindu and Buddhist groups object to the blanket ban on the display of the Swastika.

    Case in point: this photo would look very strange to someone who didn’t understand the context of the swastika.

  39. The reason there was an issue with the pentagram obviously had everything to do with a) another meaning of the symbol, which is 2) a symbol of great evil, and 3) much more strongly represented in the memepool.

    The upright pentacle used by the Wiccans isn’t a symbol of Satanism. That would be the inverted pentacle.

    So even those who believe you can actually use a pentacle to conjure with shouldn’t oppose the Wiccan pentacle. Unless they are quasi-literate asshats, of course, who got even that wrong.

  40. Akira MacKenzie | April 27, 2007, 10:31pm | #
    Looking at this list of headstone symbols for military graves, I have to say that the atheist symbol needs work. (In point of fact, why have one at all?) I hate for future archaeologists to stumble upon and think that the solider lying in the grave worshiped at the Church Of George Jetson.

    Worse, Atheists could be confused with Scientologists!

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  41. Not to defend the military, but I think they may have had an understandable reluctance to use this particular symbol. I don’t think it would really be out of fear of offended other groups. In a US military context, the upright five-pointed star has special meaning, unrelated to religion.

  42. Must say, I had no idea the Reoriented Sufis were so interested in either Harleys or the Indy 500.

  43. Yes, Lichtenberg, I thought of it’s ‘military’ look when I saw it. But apparently, that wasn’t the problem they had with it.

  44. I delved deeper, Mackie. Yeah, I just don’t understand their opposition in light of all the other things they allow. If they had chosen to say no because of the military implications of the symbol (and said, please pick something else), I might have agreed with them.

  45. This thread confirms, in yet another way, that today is a glorious, fun day!

    woo hoo!

    It makes up for the seriously unfunny stuff from during the week! 🙂

    *brays happily and ambles back into woods

  46. I had no idea there was anything but Stars of David and Holy Crosses.

    Akira & Bee are right though. Happy Humanist and the Jetson Death Symbol have gotta go.

    Actually, why not just dispense with symbols altogether?

    Of course, if you got the government out of the burial business it would reduce the problem somewhat. As it stands today, anybody what’s ever walked past an Army recruiting office in a strip mall is eligible for a funeral allotment and burial in a military cemetery.

    IMO, the only military guys that have a right to be buried in a military cemetery are those who were KIA in a hot shooting war by the farging enemy (and Pat Tillman).

  47. Also surprised to find out that the Jeesus Freaks are right, Humanism is a religion. WTF is up with that?

  48. The pentagram was a heavily used Christian symbol for hundreds of years. The points represented the five wounds of Christ.

    It’s designation as a supposed Satanic symbol has come in the last half century, and pretty much exclusively by people who aren’t Satanists.

  49. pilight

    true. the problem with symbols, esp old ones like pentacles, crosses, swastikas, what have you, is that they usually have multiple meanings.

    I have an idea: instead of a symbol on the headstone, why not just engrave the name of the religious affiliation?

  50. (parenthetically, I had a prof who once claimed that the cross and even the fish-thing are really very bad symbols for Christianity–an empty tomb would be more appropriate, but that’s rather hard to represent)

  51. AC,

    My mistake; I fed a troll. Perhaps now you should take the position that anti-Muslim sentiment isn’t racism since Islam isn’t a race.

    He made a perfectly good and relevant point. Just because you were ignorant of the non-Nazi use of the symbol certainly does not make him a troll.

    pilight,

    The pentagram was a heavily used Christian symbol for hundreds of years. The points represented the five wounds of Christ.

    It is also the name of the Pentagon newspaper and has been for quite some time.

  52. Case in point: this photo would look very strange to someone who didn’t understand the context of the swastika.

    To the extent that people are even paying attention they would think the photo is reversed. The Third Reich used the right-facing swastika.

  53. To the extent that people are even paying attention they would think the photo is reversed. The Third Reich used the right-facing swastika.

    Didn’t some huckster in europe sell video footage to some USian MSM organization with all of the swastikas going the wrong direction from a faked Nazi ritual?

  54. wHOA. dOWN IS UP. aTHEISTS AND RELIGIONISTS ARE MAKING FUNNIES TOGETHER. urkobold DOESN’T FEEL SO WELL.

  55. try more random capitalization and inconsistent spacing between words…

    oh, and your insurance rejected last time’s session. That’ll be $125 for the hour.

  56. I actually think the Atheist symbol is pretty rockin’. QUICK, TO THE FUTURE!

  57. A detail from my favorite theatre in NM.

    http://www.cabq.gov/kimo/images/pix/skullcloseup.jpg

    “The KiMo was designed and built in 1927 using the style and designs that were very common to several Native American cultures in the American southwest at that time.

    Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the design elements of the KiMo Theatre are preserved for their original cultural significance.

    Although today the swastika can evoke negative emotions, the KiMo invites visitors to remember that the original meaning of this ancient sacred symbol is one of life and prosperity. ”

    “The swastika was a widely used Native American symbol. It was used by many southwestern tribes, most notably the Navajo. Among different tribes the swastika carried various meanings. To the Hopi it represented the wandering Hopi clans; to the Navajo it represented a whirling log ( tsil no’oli’ ), a sacred image representing a legend that was used in healing rituals.”

    “The history of the swastika goes back to the origins of the Eurasian Continent. The swastika is an important symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, among others, and was also used in Native American and Jewish faiths prior to World War II. By the early twentieth century it was regarded worldwide as symbol of good luck and auspiciousness.”

    A cool virtual tour.
    Got to play a show at this theatre once.
    Best stage I have ever performed on.

  58. Apo pantos kakodaimonos.

  59. The upright pentacle used by the Wiccans isn’t a symbol of Satanism. That would be the inverted pentacle.

    True, but what if someone looks at the headstone while standing on their head? Studies show they would then have a 66.6% chance of being possessed by Satan.

    I must admit I’m kinda pissed that there’s no Catholic symbol. Presumably we have to go with the generic Christian cross, while every tiny Christian sect gets their own symbol.

  60. Jim Bob…you know you have to translate, don’t you? Some of us are too old to know how to use all them fancy nuke-yu-ler-powered internets translators.

    (First part sounds Tagalog, latter Greek)

  61. IMO, the only military guys that have a right to be buried in a military cemetery are those who were KIA in a hot shooting war by the farging enemy (and Pat Tillman).

    TWC

    If I am not mistaken there are restrictions on burial in National Cemeteries.

    Arlington is restricted to KIAs plus those who hold certain decorations (MOH winners for certain but I not sure what else.) plus certain high ranking officers.

    However all veterans with a certain amount of service are entitled to a headstone (or a cash equivalent – when my dad died it was $250) furnished by the VA for use on their own burial plots.

  62. TWC

    I’m kinda with Isaac Bertram. If space is severely limited, then yeah, we have to prioritize. But space isn’t severely limited. And when you’re dead & buried, you really don’t give a damn who’s next to you (one of the key advantages to being dead).

  63. crimethink,

    “I must admit I’m kinda pissed that there’s no Catholic symbol. Presumably we have to go with the generic Christian cross, while every tiny Christian sect gets their own symbol.”

    I think Catholics must be buried in hallowed ground within the walls of a church cemetary.

  64. Actually, Lichtenberg, space is limited. Most of the National Cemeteries are near their limit. I think they just aquired some land for a new one(or expansion of an existing one) in FLA.

    I fairly sure the headstone deal is part of the contract. The whole military ceremony with flag draped coffin on the horse drawn caisson with military pallbearers and musketry is, I’m fairly sure reserved for KIAs and veterans with distinguished combat records. Or at least it most certainly should be IMO.

  65. I think I may vandalize the Wikipedia page by adding my smiling face or maybe Bob’s to the tombstone marker choices. What are the repercussions if I do this?
    Can I get in any trouble?

  66. Mackie,

    Then what the heck is JFK doing at Arlington? Not that he’s the shining example of Catholic piety or anything, but I’m sure his family made sure every i was dotted and t crossed.

    highnumber,

    Don’t do it. They’ll leave nasty warnings on your talk page. Also, a drogulus may hunt you down and give your small intestine a fierce noogie.

  67. I think you should add the symbol of Urkobold…if you know what’s good for you.

  68. crimethink,

    Damn good question. Must investigate.

  69. “I delved deeper, Mackie. Yeah, I just don’t understand their opposition in light of all the other things they allow.”

    I blame Harry Potter-hatin’ fundies (genuine and faux) in the military and Congress.

    I seem to recall there being a few brouhahas about military Wiccan practice on base, including people like Tom Delay (I think) casting aspersions on the very idea of permitting witches to practice on base.

  70. Urkobold will take submissions for a symbol.
    Your reward for the successful submission is yet to be determined. You may be assured that it will be better than nothing.

  71. Urkobold, I suggest an anthropomorphized penis.

  72. Well, this is all irrelevant, but my brother is supposed to be entitled to an Arlington grave and full military honor shit. And I’ve already told him that he can have all the honor guard stuff, and his little brother (me) will accept the flag, but he’s going in a jar which I will probably put in the back of my closet under the ugly afghan our grandmother made for us. I respect and admire soldiers and sailors, but nothing can ever defeat a little brother’s vengeance!

    Of course, if I pre-decease him, he’ll probably bury me in Key West, or some other such place, and have our nephew take a dump on me.

    Uhm, anyway…no headstone necessary, but whatever any bastard who can get into a good plot in a good necropolis wants, then he should have it.

    And they should be allowed to specify epitaphs upon enlistment. Forget symbols, why can’t they have epitaphs?

  73. Lichtenberg,

    Here

    For the record, I was referring to the VA’s bureaucracy.

  74. “Urkobold will take submissions for a symbol. ”

    how about rear naked choke?

    FIGURE FOUR LEG LOCK OFF THE TOP TURNBUCKLE!

    and a priest with an altar boy as the symbol for…

    um. nevermind. naughty. bad.

  75. An official link with authorized religious symbols:

    http://tinyurl.com/2ymoha

    “Also surprised to find out that the Jeesus Freaks are right, Humanism is a religion. WTF is up with that?”

    You mean that the Supreme Court was right. In its *Torcase v. Watkins* decision, the Court said:

    “Neither [the state nor federal governments] can constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against non-believers, and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against *those religions founded on different beliefs*.” [emphasis added]

    A footnote to this passage says:

    “Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, *Secular Humanism* and others.” [emphasis added]

    http://tinyurl.com/26ph2o

    It seems that the U.S. military agrees with the U.S. Supreme Court.

    What an insidious example of the influence of the Religious Right!

  76. The symbol the American Atheists use is more like The Atom’s than it is Dr. Manhattan’s. He turned down a helmet with a similar multi-electron design in favor of a simpler stylized representation of a Hydrogen atom.

    Some proposed symbols for those of no faith:

    ? or ?

    I always liked this one

    “This space for rent” has a nice ring to it.

    Kevin

  77. J. Goard —>
    would an adherent of some Eastern sect or another be allowed a swastika on his tombstone?

    Actually there is a swastika in the symbols, though not very obvious at a first glance.

    Seicho-No-Ie
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:USVA_headstone_emb-23.jpg

  78. Atheists should have an American flag on their tombstones, unless there already is an American flag in addition to the religious symbol, in which case atheists should have two.

  79. if some guy/gal dies for me in a war, he/she should be able to get whatever the hell symbol they want. swastika for a redneck bigot? sure, he died for all of us. pentagram, asterisk, stylized vulva, whatever, it’s a kia soldier’s grave.

    as for the upper brass that got in after having an mi at his desk but being senior enough, fuck’im, he gets a pictogram of a desk.

  80. If they had chosen to say no because of the military implications of the symbol (and said, please pick something else), I might have agreed with them.

    Kinda hard to pull that one off, given how many crusaders wore the Christian Cross.

    Given that Mormons make one of the most reliably pro-military groups in the U.S. and supply a huge percentage of the linguistic staff that the military is always in short supply of, you won’t find the military doing much to tick them off. On the other hand Mormon headstones don’t have any symbols on them in the first place, so it wouldn’t be an issue in the first place.

    Symbol list on next entry, third row, third emblem: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)

  81. What, no logo for someone from Halliburton killed trying to fulfill a no-bid contract? Wait just a damned minute! Fair is fair. After all the marketing? I’m telling the big Dick about this.

  82. If anyone is still reading this thread –

    Actually, the Church of Satan is a recognized religion by the US Navy, and one would assume, by the rest of the armed services. For those of you who would prefer not to go to the site:

    “In December of the same year, (1967) Anton [La Vey, High Priest of the CoS] was approached by Mrs. Edward Olsen who wanted the High Priest to perform a funeral for her recently deceased husband, a Navy man killed in a traffic accident near San Francisco’s Treasure Island station. Both she and Edward Olsen had become members of the Church of Satan, despite his Baptist-oriented upbringing and his earlier membership in Youth for Christ. When he’d entered the Navy, seen more of the world and married a sexy brunette, he realized Satanism was a more realistic way of life. “He believed in this church,” said Mrs, Olsen, “and it is in this church that he would have wanted his funeral.”

    Though the Navy officials were a bit nonplussed, they agreed to Pat Olsen’s instructions without much discussion, considering it their duty to comply with Mr. Olsen’s last request with dignity. There was a chrome-helmeted honor guard in attendance at the ceremony, standing rigidly at attention alongside the black-robed witches and warlocks wearing their Baphomet medallions. The sailors held an American flag over the coffin while LaVey recited a eulogy emphasizing Edward’s commitment to life in choosing to walk the Devil’s path. To end the funeral, the Navy guard fired three volleys with their rifles, and a Navy musician played taps after the mourners shouted, “Hail Satan!” and “Hail Edward!”

    Even though the Archbishop of San Francisco was upset by the whole affair, immediately sending an outraged letter to President Johnson, most San Franciscans, including Naval officials, felt Olsen should receive the same consideration as any other Navy man. The response from the White House was actually quite fortuitous for the widow and her young son. Olsen, a machinist-repairman third-class was erroneously referred to by White House aides as “chief petty officer.” Mrs. Olsen was able to use those letters to file a claim for a posthumous promotion for her husband and receive higher survivors’ benefits. LaVey credits “demonic intervention” for Mrs. Olsen’s good fortune. Because of the sharp increase of declared Satanists in the military, Satanism was soon outlined as a recognized religion in the Chaplain’s Handbook for the Armed Services where it remains today, the description updated every few years by the Church of Satan.”

    So the brouhaha about the Wiccans is really pointless.

  83. Lichtenberg and Isaac, what I mean is that the taxpayers should not be springing for any burial expense for any military or ex-military guys who did not get killed in a shooting war.

    Arlington may be somewhat restricted, but my mom’s husband has already got a plot there and deceased wife is buried next to where he will eventually lie. I’ll grant you that he was a high ranking E-9 and his final duty station was the Pentagon, so maybe that explains his status.

  84. Dude, that symbol on your grave would be like totally metal! \m/

  85. Like I said, pretty much anyone who walks past an Army recruiting office in a strip mall can get buried at Arlington. Latest rules follow:

    * Members of the Armed Forces who die on active duty;
    * Retired members of the Armed Forces, including reservists who served on active duty;
    * Members or former members of a reserve component who, but for age, would have been eligible for retired pay;
    * Members of a reserve component who die in the performance of duty while on active duty training or inactive duty training;
    * Former members of the Armed Forces who have been awarded the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross (Air Force Cross or Navy Cross), Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, or Purple Heart;
    * Former prisoners of war who died on or after November 30, 1993;
    * The President or any former President;
    * Members of the Guard or Reserves who served on active duty, who are eligible for retirement, but who have not yet retired; and/or
    * The spouse, surviving spouse, minor child, and at the discretion of the Superintendent of Arlington, unmarried adult children of above eligibles.

  86. There’s an obvious explanation for the odd bedfellows here. Americans United for the Separation of Church and State understands (as do the FSM crowd and “The Church of Satan”) that if everything’s a religion, then nothing is. I’m willing to be pretty tolerant of the religious ideas of anyone willing to go die for this country, but I think you can make a pretty good case that for many people, wicca is primarily an attempt to demonstrate an agressive rejection of christianity. The wikipedia suggests that it was invented in the 50’s, although how it differs from what Aleister Crowley was doing in the early part of the 20th century is something I admit I don’t understand.
    In any case, many christians feel that 20th century inventions like Satanism and Wicca (and scientology) use the religious freedom of our society as a weapon, wrapping up modern, antireligious ideas in a religious wrapper to protect them from scrutiny.
    Again, that’s how some feel, I feel that if someone attests to the wiccan faith and qualifies for a military burial, then we should put up their pentagram for them.
    Embarassing sidenote: A lot of the tow trucks around here have the Sikh Khanda on them. I thought they were all huge star wars fans: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Rebel_Alliance

  87. And what, pray tell, would go on an Objectivist’s headstone?

  88. “*The spouse, surviving spouse, minor child, and at the discretion of the Superintendent of Arlington, unmarried adult children of above eligibles.*”

    I can’t wait for the first gay spouse from a legal gay marriage state to want burial in Arlington. If there is a God, said spouse will be black. That way the rev Sharlton dont miss out.

  89. And what, pray tell, would go on an Objectivist’s headstone?

    A dollar sign. Seriously, it was a revered symbol in Atlas Shrugged.

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