Author Topic: Widows Sue Over Wicca Symbol  (Read 4207 times)

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Offline Ramblin' Dad

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Widows Sue Over Wicca Symbol
« on: November 14, 2006, 05:35:03 PM »
A lot of this started here in Nevada, not far from here. The widow mentioned in the article buried her husband, who was killed in Iraq, in the Veterans Cemetery about thirty miles from here. The VA would not allow her to put a headstone on his grave with the wiccan symbol. She fought for quite a few months before the Governor stepped in and put his foot down authorizing the symbol. Because it was a state veterans cemetery rather than a federal he was able to force the issue. The state VA was following federal guidelines when it initially denied the request.

I am a Christian, but the way I feel about it is that it is not up to the government to prevent something like this, anymore than it can dictate what religion must be followed. I feel that there shouldn't have been an issue with this in the least. This person laid down his life in the defense of this country he should be able to be laid to rest with the symbol of whatever his religion is. I wish her and the people filing this lawsuit luck. They tried it via regular channels, now it is time to take it to the courts.

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http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,118902,00.html?ESRC=eb.nl

Associated Press  |  November 14, 2006

MADISON, Wis. - The widows of two Wiccan combat veterans sued the government Monday, saying the military has dragged its feet on allowing the religion's symbols on headstones.

The Department of Veterans Affairs allows military families to choose any of 38 authorized headstone images. The list includes commonly recognized symbols for Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism, as well as those for smaller religions such as Sufism Reoriented, Eckiankar and the Japanese faith Seicho-No-Ie.

The Wiccan pentacle, a five-pointed star surrounded by a circle, is not on the list, an omission the widows say is unconstitutional.

Wiccans worship the Earth and believe they must give to the community. Some consider themselves "white," or good, witches, pagans or neo-pagans. Approximately 1,800 active-duty service members identify themselves as Wiccans, according to 2005 Defense Department statistics.

The lawsuit was filed by four plaintiffs: Roberta Stewart, whose husband, Nevada National Guard Sgt. Patrick Stewart, was killed in combat in Afghanistan last year; Karen DePolito, whose husband, Jerome Birnbaum, is a Korean War veteran who died last year; Circle Sanctuary, a Wisconsin-based Wiccan church; and Isis Invicta Military Mission, a California-based Wiccan and pagan congregation serving military personnel.

It claims that the VA has made "excuse after excuse" for more than nine years for not approving the symbol and that by doing so, it has trampled on the plaintiffs' constitutional rights of freedom of speech, religion and due process.

Circle Sanctuary and Stewart began calling in 1997 for the VA to allow the symbol's use.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington, D.C.-based group representing the plaintiffs in court, is seeking an order compelling the VA to make a decision.

"After asking the VA on a number of occasions to stop its unfair treatment of Wiccans in the military, we have no alternative but to seek justice in the courts," said the Rev. Barry Lynn, the group's executive director.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Madison and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington.

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.

Stewart said she wants the lawsuit to send a message that the government can't pick and choose which faiths appear on headstones.

"I'm hoping it's going to open the door to allow other pagan faiths to be approved," Stewart said.

Attorneys for Americans United argued in legal papers that it makes no sense for Wiccans to be excluded, saying that the Army allows Wiccan Soldiers to list their faith on dog tags, that Wiccan organizations are allowed to hold services on military installations and that the Army Chaplains Handbook includes an explanation of the religion.
 




Captain Tuttle

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Re: Widows Sue Over Wicca Symbol
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2006, 05:49:48 PM »
It's a disgrace.  If my family member wanted a smiley face on his headstone they should let him have it.

By the way, here is the official list of emblems for government headstones.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2006, 07:37:15 PM by Captain Tuttle »

rocknrolldad

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Re: Widows Sue Over Wicca Symbol
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2006, 06:20:46 PM »
it's utterly ridiculous that she had to sue over something so trivial.

Offline z_randy

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Re: Widows Sue Over Wicca Symbol
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2006, 09:44:56 PM »
you would think the government would have better things to worry about!  According to Tuttles list the Athiests can have a symbol. I didn't even know that athiests had a symbol!  In my book you die serving this country you can have anything you want on your headstone. 



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Offline Jim

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Re: Widows Sue Over Wicca Symbol
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2006, 09:49:53 PM »
 :agree: I can't believe that happened.


Offline Frobozz

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Re: Widows Sue Over Wicca Symbol
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2006, 09:58:15 PM »
Is that an Atheist symbol or the crest for someone who died of radiation sickness after working in a secret government lab.

Personally, I'm an atheist who was raised jewish.  I told me sister that under no circumstances am I to have a jewish star or any other related symbols on my headstone.  If there needs to be any symbol at all, I want a question mark.

In a related story, there's my brother's idea of what he wants done with himself after death.  He wants to be creamated and have his ashes thrown in the faces of people he hates.  Nice touch, really.


OK, feel free to flame me for being an atheist.


 

Offline z_randy

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Re: Widows Sue Over Wicca Symbol
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2006, 10:27:06 PM »
Why would we bash your beliefs Fro-Dude? 
I have always told my wife when I die to cremate me and put me in a spackle bucket and dump me in the back yard.  Take whatever $$$ it would cost for a funeral and have a big BBQ with a keg and celebrate my life.   :occasion18:



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Offline Keith

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Re: Widows Sue Over Wicca Symbol
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2006, 10:42:57 PM »

OK, feel free to flame me for being an atheist.

Why would I flame you for being atheist?   That is what you believe.    People don't flame me for being a Christian, so I don't flame them for not being what I think is right.  Too each his own.   That's what I say.

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Offline Ramblin' Dad

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Re: Widows Sue Over Wicca Symbol
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2006, 02:02:44 AM »
No flame here Fro...

I thought it was pretty cool of our governor to step in and allow the symbol. Even though she got it for her husband I have to admire her for fighting to help others. The VA aught to be ashamed of its self. We servicemen served and faught for the rights of US citizens, including separation of state, and religion and freedom of expression, and the right to practice ANY religion.
 




Offline Frobozz

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Re: Widows Sue Over Wicca Symbol
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2006, 06:53:59 AM »
Whew!  I thought I'd be stoned with rocks from the daddyplace store.

Why would we bash your beliefs Fro-Dude? 
I have always told my wife when I die to cremate me and put me in a spackle bucket and dump me in the back yard.  Take whatever $$$ it would cost for a funeral and have a big BBQ with a keg and celebrate my life.   :occasion18:

How about stuffing your corpse with hickory chips then they can BBQ on your burning body while you contribute a fully woody taste to the ribs and chicken.


 

Offline Bill

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Re: Widows Sue Over Wicca Symbol
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2006, 09:50:11 AM »
Here is my thought on organized religion.

So long as Reglion is exclusivist, malign and corrupt, as all religions seem to be at this point.  I believe that no religion has it right.
I reserve my right to believe that there may be a higher power, and that NOT ONE religion has a freakin clue about that deity.
Christianity is probably the funniest, most insane religion of them all however.  Each sect believes that you have to not only be Christian, you have to be *their* type of christian.

I was going to go on and describe my problems with each form of prevailent christian sect, but I know that more than one of you would likely hate and condemn me for it.  (which by the way is against the dogma of christianity)


Offline Bill

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Re: Widows Sue Over Wicca Symbol
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2006, 09:53:03 AM »
BTW Randy.  Not sure about the rules of all that fun stuff down there, but sadly, cremation costs MORE than being buried alot of times.  You have to buy a casket still and then you have to pay for the burning.  Remember, most of the ashes in any urn or container are going to be the wood surrounding the person and not the person themself.


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Re: Widows Sue Over Wicca Symbol
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2006, 10:22:40 AM »
Haven't looked into the cost but when my in laws died they were cremated.  The cost of some of those caskets was as much as the cremation.



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Re: Widows Sue Over Wicca Symbol
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2006, 10:32:08 AM »

Christianity is probably the funniest, most insane religion of them all however.  Each sect believes that you have to not only be Christian, you have to be *their* type of christian.

I'm a Baptist and we don't think that.  I have heard of other types that say they will be the only ones going to Heaven, but I don't believe that.   

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Offline z_randy

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Re: Widows Sue Over Wicca Symbol
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2006, 10:44:43 AM »
I have heard of other types that say they will be the only ones going to Heaven, but I don't believe that.   
I agree.  My thoughts are if you are a good person it doesn't matter your religion.  When it comes down to it most believe the same thing just have different ideas about how to get there.



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