Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wiccans win round on military tombstones

The Washington Post reports that the Bush administration has given up its efforts to block Wiccans from putting their religious symbol, a pentacle (a five-pointed star in a circle), on the tombstones of soldiers who are buried in a military graveyards, including Arlington National Cemetery. Wicca, apparently one of the nation’s fastest growing faiths, is a “blend of witchcraft and nature worship,” the Post notes.

It took a lawsuit to get this result, though – one that will cost taxpayers $225,000. The government agreed to pay that much in attorney’s fees to settle; the VA also will approve immediately the 10 pending applications seeking a pentacle.

The Wiccans argued that there are over 30 other religious emblems one can have placed on a military tombstone. If you’re wondering what they are, here is the list. Many of the symbols represent variations of Christianity, although there are several Muslim symbols, the Star of David, a Buddhist wheel and an atom for atheists.

The only reference on the VA Web site to the Wiccan controversy is a note at the link to the list of permissible symbols stating, “A new emblem of belief has been added to the list.”

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