Top Story: The U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, once the poster child of creeping Christian militarism and religious intolerance, has apparently made vast improvement in recent months. So significant are these improvements that even Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is impressed, and accommodations are being made for minority religions, including modern Pagan cadets.
“The academy superintendent, Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael Gould, says the improvements are the result of a topdown campaign to foster respect and a commitment to accommodate all cadets, even nonbelievers and an “Earth-centered” religious group that needed a place for a stone circle so it could worship outdoors. “If we are going to have success in our primary mission of developing leaders of character, we have to do that based on respect in all things, whether we’re talking gender, race or religion,” Gould said. Academy commanders say the school has started to seek out the religious needs of its cadets and accommodate them, instead of waiting for cadets to ask. For example, a Cadet Interfaith Council with about 20 members helps identify upcoming religious holidays so schedules can be adjusted around them, when possible.”
This is hugely good news, not only for our military-bound Pagans, but for the military as a whole. Despite the insinuations by some that religious tolerance and inclusion is counter-productive to good discipline, the reality is that a trustworthy military is one that truly reflects the diversity and values of our nation. That means a military where Pagans, atheists, and other minority belief systems are given the same considerations, without threat of retaliation (or intimidation), during their service, taken care of in peace-time, and fully honored in death.
In Other News: Egyptian archaeologists have managed to raise a 9-ton pylon from the Mediterranean Sea that was a part of a temple to Isis and part of Cleopatra’s palace complex.
“The tower was originally part of the entrance to a temple of Isis, a pharaonic goddess of fertility and magic. The temple is believed to have been near the palace that belonged to the 1st century B.C. Queen Cleopatra in the ancient city of Alexandria, submerged in the sea centuries ago.”
The pylon will be the centerpiece of a new museum dedicated to antiquities recovered from the Mediterranean Sea. You can catch a pretty good glimpse of the pylon, here.
For those of you not keeping track of the Pagans at the Parliament blog, some great content has been uploaded to that site recently. Including audio and video from the “People Call Us Pagans” panel, audio from the “Indigenous Peoples’ Statement to the World”, and video of the “Australian Pagans Speak” community forum. In addition, I’ve also linked to a Patheos.com interview with COG representative Don Frew from the Parliament.
From the “didn’t this happen ages ago” files, it seems that Jonathon “The Impaler” Sharkey, that subject of documentary filmmakers, and founder of the “Vampyres, Witches, and Pagans Party”, has landed himself in jail for two years.
“Forty-five-year-old Rocky Flash, also known as Jonathon Sharkey, was sentenced in a Marion County court on Wednesday to more than two years in jail. Prosecutors say the man threatened to beat, torture, impale, dismember and decapitate Judge David Certo, who is presiding over another case involving Flash.”
Sharkey was already in trouble for harassing an underage girl, and the judge he was threatening is no doubt the one in charge of that case. Perhaps this will finally close the casket (no pun intended, OK, pun intended) on this perennial Pagan embarrassment’s fifteen minutes of fame.
“It’s Top 10 time again. As 2009 nears its end, Time magazine and the Religion Newswriters Association in the U.S. have produced their lists of the main religion news stories of the year. They take quite different views. Time’s list is quite broad, the top three being the advance of secularism in Europe, Pope Benedict’s invitation to conservative Anglicans and President Barack Obama’s decision to expand the faith-based office created by George Bush. The RNA picked Obama’s Cairo address to the Muslim world as its top story, followed by the role of religious groups in the U.S. health care reform debate and the Fort Hood massacre allegedly carried out by an American Muslim officer.”
As long-time readers may know, I like to count down the top Pagan stories of the year at the end of December (here’s a link for my 2006, 2007, and 2008 picks), and you can bet I have some great ideas for this year’s list. I’d also like to hear your ideas. Which Pagan stories, in your opinion, were the most notable in 2009? Let me know in the comments.
That’s all I have for now, have a great day!