This Independence Day, a Pagan rally is being held in Washington D.C. celebrating the recent victory to have the Pentacle symbol approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and to push forward an agenda of true Pagan equality in the eyes of the U.S. government.
“Join us to celebrate a major victory for Pagan Religious Rights, now that we have secured the Veterans’ Pentacle! Help us voice a further agenda for Pagan Religious Rights: We want a Pagan chaplain in the U.S. Armed Forces. And we need to keep the focus on the Department of Veterans Affairs to accept Thor’s Hammer, religious emblem of the Asatruar, and the Druids’ Awen symbol … While we have won the quest for the Veterans’ Pentacle, the Pentacle is a single victory in the longer campaign for universal religious freedom. We need to hold a clear intent: we want to further the free expression of all religions, Pagan and otherwise. And we need to send that message now, while America still remembers that a department of the federal government systematically denied Wiccan soldiers their full rights.”
Speaking at the rally with be representatives from Circle Sanctuary, The Troth, The Military Pagan Network, The ADF, Sacred Well Congregation, Asatru Folk Assembly, and the Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. This well-orchestrated gathering begins at noon and culminates with a ritual lead by author and Steerswoman of the Troth Diana Paxson that will invoke the Founding Fathers to guard our religious freedoms.
“The people who created this country were pioneers and rebels, risking their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor, to establish a nation in which everyone was free to find his or her own path. The least we can do, especially when it is so much to our own advantage, is to carry on the work that they began.”
News of the rally is already starting to spread, and The Washington Posts’ On Faith blog has devoted their July 4th panelist questions to the issues brought up by this Pagan rally. Most interestingly, is the question of if they would vote for a Pagan politician, the answers may surprise you.
“I am less interested in whether a candidate agrees with me on theology than whether he or she agrees with me on public policy. Our founding fathers had a great respect for the Roman republic. I like them would be very tempted to vote for a pagan like Cicero if he were running for office today.” – Thomas J. Reese, Jesuit Priest and editor of the Catholic weekly magazine “America”.
“When it comes to choosing candidates, my approach is on the basis of issues, not identities. If a pagan candidate takes stances that I agree with, I would have no hesitation voting for him or her. The same goes for a candidate from any other religion or for an atheist candidate.” – Pamela K. Taylor, co-founder of Muslims for Progressive Values
Also adding to the discussion is rally participant Diana Paxson, who is a “guest voice” to the On Faith blog.
“America has always been noted for creativity, in religion as in all else. Each new faith, whether immigrant or homegrown, enriches our culture. Today, when Buddhist temples and Islamic mosques may be found in many parts of the U.S., one might wonder why the VA denied a Wiccan veteran the right to have a pentacle on his headstone for ten years, and the Army has still not hired a Pagan chaplain. Paganism does not seek to replace other religions, but Pagan perspectives can revitalize the ways in which we relate to our history, our ancestors, and especially, in this time of climate crisis, to the environment. Rather than resisting, America should welcome the Pagan contribution to our cultural diversity.”
I would love to hear reports from the rally, numbers? Pictures? Personal accounts? Send them to my e-mail address or post about it here in the comments. I would love to do a follow-up of what is sure to be a successful event. Have a happy and safe 4th of July, and let everyone’s freedom ring!