It seems that our President isn’t one to forgive a political loss, or make nice with religious minorities, even if they are they are married to a soldier killed in the war on terror.
“When President Bush took time Tuesday to meet family members of some of the fallen soldiers from Northern Nevada, a woman whose husband made the ultimate sacrifice was notably absent. Roberta Stewart of Fernley, who lost her husband, Sgt. Patrick Stewart, when the helicopter he was in was shot down in Afghanistan in September 2005, said she was not invited to the meeting that followed Bush’s speech to the American Legion’s national convention in Reno. Other members of the Stewart family were invited to the brief, private meeting, including her husband’s parents and brother, as were family members of others who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
For those not up on current events in Pagandom, Roberta Stewart is the woman who successfully challenged the government on allowing the Pentacle on veteran’s gravestones and markers (after her husband’s grave marker was initially denied a requested Pentacle emblem). It seems that George “witchcraft isn’t a religion” Bush is petty enough to snub war-widows (while inviting the rest of the family) if they don’t meet his personal criteria of allegiance (or he just hates Wiccans that much), a behavior that Americans United director Rev. Barry W. Lynn called “shabby”.
“The president should issue an apology to Roberta Stewart … She stood courageously for religious freedom for all soldiers, and the president was wrong to treat her so shabbily … President Bush seems to be continuing a pattern of hostility toward the Wiccan faith … That’s an outrage.”
As for Stewart, she isn’t surprised at the snub, and guesses that Bush wanted to avoid criticism for his part in blocking approval of the Pentacle.
“I would have loved to have spoken to President Bush and ask him why he dishonored my husband. That’s probably why I wasn’t invited.”
I sincerely doubt that any apology will be forthcoming, Bush has made his distaste for Pagan religion and deserved criticism (even in private) quite clear. But this would be an excellent chance for any of the Presidential candidates (Republican or Democrat) to weigh in on this issue, and rise above such small-minded partisanship and religious bigotry. As for the Veteran Pentacle Quest, a coalition has formed to work on getting the Thor’s Hammer and Druid’s Awen approved next, and any military families involved in this campaign now know what behavior to expect from the Bush administration.
ADDENDUM: A Department of Defense official claims it was an “unfortunate oversight” and not an intended snub, but AU director Rev. Barry Lynn isn’t buying the excuse saying “so called oversights often cover up a multitude of sins.”