After a 10-year struggle, Wiccans gained the right to have the wiccan five-pointed star placed on the gravestones of US veterans of that tradition. The Department of Veterans Affairs previously had approved 38 other symbols, from the Aaronic Order Church to the United Moravian Church (including some 15 variations of the Christian cross). For most groups, approval came quickly, but for some reasons, Wiccans had to wait for years.
Approval was hastened after Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed suit against the department late last year on the basis that is was a clear case of religious discrimination. They were supported by other civil rights organizations from both sides of the political spectrum.
It has been curious to me that Wiccans often remain suspect, even in long-standing interfaith circles. People who have found common ground with people from other religious traditions, even those with long histories of hostility and conflict, hesitate when the subject of Wicca comes up. There is still a lot of confusion about who Wiccans are and what they believe; many people still confuse them with Satanists. Yet one would be hard pressed to say what Wiccans have ever done that has caused injury to other religions or communities.
Many veterans who have served this nation faithfully and well, even to the point giving their lives in the line of duty, have been Wiccans. Whether or not one may share that tradition, the VA has done the right thing in officially recognizing Wicca as part of the rich religious diversity of our nation.
- Use of Wiccan Symbol on Veterans’ Headstones is Approved. New York Times
- Available Emblems for Placement on Government Headstones
- Pentacle Quest Americans United for Separation of Church and State