More Pagan veteran voices

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  March 3, 2007 — 2 Comments

In the ongoing campaign to get approval for the pentacle to be engraved on military headstones and markers, its rare to hear from the soldiers on active duty who are most affected by the government’s stonewalling. So bravo to the Hamilton Spectator for interviewing Captain Richard A. Briggs Jr., who recently returned from a tour in Iraq.

“Before every dangerous mission in Iraq, Captain Richard A. Briggs Jr. stood on the hatch of his vehicle, drew a pentacle in the sky with his finger and recited the Wiccan Warrior Prayer for protection. It was a quick, effortless ritual, but one that Briggs was thankful for in the spring of 2003 when his unarmored cargo truck turned a corner on an Iraqi road and rolled right into machine gun fire. Briggs’ gods planned for him to come home that day. But had he died, he would have been denied a right given to countless other U.S. soldiers killed in battle: to have the symbol of his faith engraved on his U.S. military headstone. “I have fought and nearly died in serving my country,” Briggs said. “And I think the U.S. government should mind the law, mind the Constitution and do the right thing — not only for me, but for guys who’ve died. Let their families rest in peace.” Briggs, who recently returned from Iraq, is one of thousands of Wiccans involved in a nationwide campaign aimed at forcing the Veterans Administration’s National Cemetery Administration to allow the Wiccan pentacle…”

It is becoming increasingly clear that there are certain factions within the military who have a vested interest in disenfranchising certain minority faiths. Hopefully this summer, when the veteran pentacle case goes to trial (despite the stalling tactics of the V.A.), we might get a clearer picture of the mindset behind those who have caused added sorrow and grief to widows like Roberta Stewart (who finally got a pentacle on her husband’s grave after the state of Nevada intervened in the matter).

There has been talk for a while now of the deliberate “Christianization” of America’s military, and issues like the pentacle quest, the recent expulsion of a Christian chaplain who tried to convert to Wicca, and widespread allegations of religiously motivated abuse at certain military academies all point to a troubling future for our country. If we aren’t vigilant, will we end up with a “Christian” army that answers to a power higher than our commander in chief?

Jason Pitzl-Waters