Top Story: A local Nevada television station is reporting that Roberta Stewart, widow of Sgt. Patrick Stewart, had her truck vandalized. The Stewart’s were at the heart of a campaign to grant Wiccan soldiers the right to have the pentacle engraved on their military tombstone or marker after ten years of stonewalling by the VA. While the act is attributed to local vandals, the report does explore the possibility that the brick thrown at her truck was connected to anti-Pagan sentiment.
But there’s another more remote, but more disturbing possibility: Roberta Stewart’s very public dispute with the Veteran’s Administration following her husband’s death. Although the Army recognized Patrick Stewart’s religion, it took a lawsuit against the V-A and government intervention to get the Wiccan faith’s symbol, a pentacle, placed on his marker at the veterans cemetery in Fernley. She won that fight, but the marker was vandalized shortly after it was installed. Roberta has continued to be a vocal advocate for religious tolerance and slain soldiers’ families. It’s a stance that still stirs strong emotions in some. She still gets angry emails. She doubts her truck was targeted for that reason, but can’t help but wonder. “We still get things where people don’t believe that we have the right to practice religious freedom, so it could have. I can’t be the one to answer that, but i would hope not.”
Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, who worked closely with Roberta Stewart during the Veteran Pentacle Campaign, issued the following statement on her official Facebook Pagan.
“Please send healing, strength, and protection to Roberta Stewart, the courageous Wiccan Afghanistan War Widow who was with me on the front-lines of the successful quest to the get US Department of Veterans Affairs to add the Pentacle to the list of emblems that can be included on the grave markers they issue to honor deceased veterans.”
While this vandalism is terrible, I do hope that it truly was random, as evidence suggests, and not motivated by religious hatred. My best wishes go out to Roberta Stewart, may she have all the strength and healing she needs, and may the perpetrators be caught.
In Other News:
- Chas Clifton points to an essay by Egil Asprem, a Norwegian scholar of esotericism and contemporary Paganism, on Oslo terrorist/murderer Anders Behring Breivik’s use of Western esoteric language and symbols.
- COG Interfaith Reports has posted two reports (part one, part two) from NAIN Connect 2011, the annual meeting of the North American Interfaith Network. Covenant of the Goddess member Rachael Watcher, a longtime interfaith activist, was elected to the Executive Board of NAIN in 2010.
- At the Washington Post’s On Faith site, I weigh in on the now-infamous “stop voting for Pagans” speech made by Texas pastor John Hagee. I note that “if you wish to lead America, you can not toy with the idea of a political hierarchy of religions.” Head over and read the whole thing.
- Lamest excuse ever for hiding in a porta-potty for two days and leering at women? “I wanted to start a new goddess religion.” Those words, I do not think they mean what he thinks they mean.
- Can indigenous knowledge be patented or copyrighted? The World Intellectual Property Organization ponders the question.
- COG First Officer Peter Dybing on the transformative model of Pagan leadership.
That’s all I have for now, have a great day!