Several folks have pointed out to me a photo from the May 3rd print edition of the Washington Post. It is a shot of Arlington National Cemetery headlining a section on the death of Osama bin Laden. It, perhaps inadvertently, makes very clear why the military, and all Americans, should take the needs and accommodation of modern Pagan faiths seriously.
“Look in the left foreground of the photo – you will see the Pentacle on VA marker for Wiccan soldier Charles Thomas Heinlein, Jr. at Arlington National Cemetery. He was killed in action in Iraq. His grave is in section 60, where many US soldiers killed in wars in Iraq & Afghanistan are buried & honored.” – Selena Fox, Circle Sanctuary
When crude editorials mock Pagan faiths and our equal treatment in the military, when pseudo-historians and Christian pundits claim non-Christians shouldn’t even have constitutional protections, they are, in part, talking about Wiccan soldiers like Charles Thomas Heinlein, Jr. or Sgt. Patrick Stewart. Men who gave their lives in service to the United States. Modern Pagans of all persuasions are part of our everyday society, our fabric of life. We are your coworkers, teachers, friends, and family. When we are “othered,” it has ramifications beyond the editorial page, it leads to rights being delayed, parents risking the loss of their children, and an unspoken tiered system of religious rights and freedoms being created. Pagans ask for no “special rights” just the equal treatment we are all supposed to enjoy in America, the freedoms and rights our Pagan military personnel served, suffered, and died for.