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mondo joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 08:49 AM
Original message
No Wiccan Symbol Allowed for Fallen National Guardsman
Nevada National Guard Sgt. Patrick Stewart gave his life for his country when the Chinook helicopter he was in was shot down in Afghanistan in September.

The space reserved for Stewart, right next to Chief Warrant Officer John Flynn, his comrade from Sparks who also died in the attack as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, is vacant.

Stewart was a follower of the Wiccan religion, which is not recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs for use in its cemeteries. "It's discrimination," she said. "They are discriminating against our religion.


http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2006/Mar-02-Thu-...

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TallahasseeGrannie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 08:51 AM
Response to Original message
1. How unfair
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derby378 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 08:55 AM
Response to Original message
2. It's a simple Pythagorean five-pointed star, for cryin' out loud...
Golden Ratio and all that. Put it on his tombstone, already! He earned it with his blood.
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mondo joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 09:01 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. And they already use the Masonic Star.
Just turn it around!
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Higans Donating Member (819 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 07:05 PM
Response to Reply #3
38. which is, coincidently, the sign for devil worship.
Edited on Sat Mar-04-06 07:10 PM by Higans
(an upside down pentagram that is)

With a single point up it represents the spirit, or the mind in control of the other four elements. i.e. Earth, Air, Wind, and Fire.

Upside down indicates the four elements in control of the mind, or spirit...

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marions ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:04 AM
Response to Reply #2
19. in the fine print in the Veterans list of symbols
they say the five-pointed star is used as a symbol for Islamic soldiers (but it is not pictured)...so there may be a clash in symbols there.
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unblock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 09:02 AM
Response to Original message
4. if that doesn't violate the establishment clause of the 1st amendment
i don't know what does....
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WePurrsevere Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 09:19 AM
Response to Original message
5. That's truly unconstitutional & very wrong. The Military recognizes
Edited on Sat Mar-04-06 09:22 AM by WePurrsevere
Wicca as a valid religion as have various US counrts so this should not even be an issue. This man gave his life for his country and just as a Christian is recognized with a cross and a Jew with a Star of David so too should be a follower of Wicca or any other spiritual path be allowed to have the symbolof their belief. To do so for some and not all is definately unconstitutional.

edited to make more sense.. I hope. (This has me very ticked.)
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 09:23 AM
Response to Original message
6. This is totallly hosed up--the DVA hasn't caught up with regs, it seems
Patrick Stewart's dog tags, which Roberta Stewart wears around her neck, carry the word Wiccan on them to identify his religious beliefs. But she said he was never told the Wiccan religion was not officially recognized during his 13 years of military service in different capacities.

"By they way, if you die for your country, your religion won't be recognized, that would be nice to know," Roberta Stewart said.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and its National Cemetery Administration prohibit graphics on government-furnished headstones or markers other than those they have approved as "emblems of belief." More than 30 such emblems are allowed on gravestones and makers in veterans cemeteries, from the Christian cross to the Buddhist wheel of righteousness. A symbol exists for atheists too.

Roberta Stewart said she has decided to make the issue a public one because many Wiccans serve in the armed forces who might want the symbol included on a headstone or memorial marker.

Some Wiccans are private about their religion because of the concern their practices and beliefs might be misunderstood, she said. But Roberta Stewart said she and her husband were strong enough to let their beliefs be known in the community....


These folks need to contact their congressperson and senators.

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FreedomAngel82 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 12:58 PM
Response to Reply #6
43. It's so heartbreaking and I feel so bad
:(
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robbedvoter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 09:24 AM
Response to Original message
7. Some religions are more equal than others. That and the loss of separation
Edited on Sat Mar-04-06 09:25 AM by robbedvoter
between church and state will bring back the which trials.
And mark my words: just not being Wiccan, will not keep you safe from those!
You may find yourself there just for wearing your cross the wrong way....
yeay! Tha dark ages are upon us!
Sorry, Puthons, but I think it's time to expect the Spanish Inquisition.
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FreedomAngel82 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 12:59 PM
Response to Reply #7
45. If you think about it
it's like how the conservative Christian's are allowed to go around and tell their fellow military men/women who are Jews they're going to hell. *sigh* But if someone told them that they would get in lots of trouble I'm sure. :mad:
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BlueCollar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 09:39 AM
Response to Original message
8. I think this issue is still open
There was a thread yesterday about this,and I seem to remember a story about the forces agreeing to allow Wiccans the right to practice their beliefs in Basic Training...
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BlueEyedSon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 09:43 AM
Response to Original message
9. Freedom of religion? nt
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aden_nak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:24 AM
Response to Reply #9
26. You are perfectly free to practice whatever religion the majority wants.
Welcome to the new world, same as the old world.
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rodeodance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 09:43 AM
Response to Original message
10. even atheists have a symbol:

......The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and its National Cemetery Administration prohibit graphics on government-furnished headstones or markers other than those they have approved as "emblems of belief." More than 30 such emblems are allowed on gravestones and makers in veterans cemeteries, from the Christian cross to the Buddhist wheel of righteousness. A symbol exists for atheists too.

Roberta Stewart said she has decided to make the issue a public one because many Wiccans serve in the armed forces who might want the symbol included on a headstone or memorial marker.

Some Wiccans are private about their religion because of the concern their practices and beliefs might be misunderstood, she said. But Roberta Stewart said she and her husband were strong enough to let their beliefs be known in the community.

Patrick Stewart's religious preferences were made clear at his memorial service, which was held at Rancho San Rafael Park in an oak grove. Some of those speaking at the service talked of Stewart's beliefs and how, while they held different views, respected him for his values. Stewart was cremated, and his ashes have been scattered.
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rodeodance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 09:45 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. family is going through an application process:Dept of Veterans Affairs.



....While Roberta Stewart is frustrated by the situation, a chance exists that her husband's memorial plaque might be in place soon, with the symbol of his beliefs.

An application seeking recognition of the Wiccan religion, and the use of the pentacle as an emblem of belief on memorials in veterans cemeteries, is working its way through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Rev. Selene Fox, senior minister of a Wiccan group called Circle Sanctuary, said the group filed the application for the use of the emblem with the Department of Veterans Affairs in January by using a new administrative process. The group filed the application with the widow of a Korean War veteran who wanted the symbol for her husband's memorial, she said.

Efforts have been under way for a decade to win the recognition, Fox said.
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Wrinkle_In_Time Donating Member (664 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 09:47 AM
Response to Original message
12. List of available emblems of belief...
Edited on Sat Mar-04-06 09:55 AM by Wrinkle_In_Time
...I just had to go look for the Atheist one (and they cut it off):

Go, go Atomic Atheists! :rofl:

Emblems of Belief Available for Placement on Headstones and Markers

Request for an emblem of belief not on the list (PDF)

EDIT: I've found other versions of that symbol with the lower loop cut off, so maybe that's how it's supposed to be. I would prefer this one (the Null Set):
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jmowreader Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 10:09 AM
Response to Reply #12
16. An Atheist symbol of belief? You're kidding, right?
Because...uhhh...last I checked, atheists don't believe. That's what being an atheist IS, people.
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drduffy Donating Member (739 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 10:42 AM
Response to Reply #16
17. not true....
atheism is as much a belief as is theism. Agnosticism is to 'not believe' or more literally, 'not to know'.
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Wrinkle_In_Time Donating Member (664 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 10:50 AM
Response to Reply #17
18. Atheism is a belief...
...in the same way that not collecting stamps is a hobby. (Anon.)

I find that Nontheism describes my viewpoint more accurately.
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indie_voter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 01:52 PM
Response to Reply #18
52. Yes!! I am a non-theist. n/t
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mondo joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:39 AM
Response to Reply #17
28. "Atheism is a belief" just like "barefoot is a shoe".
Theism is a belief. A-theism is the absence of that belief.
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marions ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:09 AM
Response to Reply #16
20. Atheism is a belief
in the absolute non-existence of supernatural beings, spirit worlds, god concepts of any kind.

It is a strongly held belief by those who adhere to it.
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mondo joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:38 AM
Response to Reply #20
27. Incorrect. It is the absence of a belief.
Theism is a belief. A-theism is the absence of that belief.
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Orangepeel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 12:00 PM
Response to Reply #27
30. oh, no it isn't
atheism is defined as either the absense of belief or the active belief that there is no god

http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/atheism
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=atheism

I completely agree that it would make more sense for "atheism" to mean only the first definition and for the second definition to be "anti-theism." But, that's not the way it is. The word "atheism" can mean either.
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mike_c Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 04:40 PM
Response to Reply #27
33. I'm gonna disagree with you-- I'm an atheist...
Edited on Sat Mar-04-06 04:42 PM by mike_c
and I BELIEVE that no recourse to supernatural causes is necessary to understand the universe or any of the events that occur there. My atheism is not an absence of belief-- it is very much the belief in physical law and organising principles. The term atheism is a bit of a misnomer IMO-- it was coined in a time when theism was so much the norm that any non-theist belief was automatically defined by that fact alone.
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mondo joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 06:53 PM
Response to Reply #33
34. That's funny. One post disagreed with me based on the definition found
in a dictionary. Another disagreed based on the dictionary NOT being correct.

That aside, while YOU may have a belief in organizing principles and physical law, that is in and of itself not atheism.

Atheism is simply the absence of belief in gods.

Where you go from that is personal - but not necessarily atheism.
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mike_c Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 12:41 PM
Response to Reply #34
40. how does "absence of belief in gods" differ from...
...the belief that we do not need gods to provide a framework for understanding the universe, other than in the way the expression of that belief is framed? Any belief can be expressed in terms of negation-- theism is the "absence of belief in a godless universe."
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Freedom_Aflaim Donating Member (745 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 12:59 PM
Response to Reply #40
44. absence of belief in gods = belief of absence of gods
Clearly Athiesm is just as valid of religion as any other, and should be protected as such.

I know that many athiest refute that their beliefs are beliefs, as they believe that belief = icky :)

Of course it all just symantics right, so we are really arguing over nothing but wording.
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mondo joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 01:41 PM
Response to Reply #44
49. Nothing but wording? You mean like pollution = clear skies?
Or domestic spying = terrorist surveillance?

Words have meanings. That matters.

Atheism is NOT a religion or belief by definition - no more than not believing in invisible dragons is a religion.

Or are you of the opinion that barefoot is a type of shoe?
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Freedom_Aflaim Donating Member (745 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 01:49 PM
Response to Reply #49
51. Ok its not semantics
Edited on Sun Mar-05-06 01:53 PM by Freedom_Aflaim
therefore Athiesm is a religion. (I was trying to be kind, I know alot of Athiest get testy when they feel their religion has been insulted)

Unless of course someone has proven Athiesm correct. Or has proven Islam correct, or Christianity or Janism etc.

So far, none of these belief system have been proven.

So they remain belief systems. So they remain religions

As far as your shoe theory goes, belief in shoes is well founded and proven. I'll refer you to www.nike.com for followup study.
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mondo joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 01:58 PM
Response to Reply #51
54. Atheism does not posit anything so there's nothing to be proven.
Edited on Sun Mar-05-06 02:19 PM by mondo joe
Atheism is the ABSENCE OF BELIEF on gods. Not a belief there are no gods.

It seems you can't grasp the distinction, but that's okay.

Edit to add: It appears the shoe analogy is completely lost on you as well. At no point did i refer to belief in shoes. Rather, I made use of analogy: saying atheism is a religion is like saying barefoot is a type of shoe.
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mike_c Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 03:00 PM
Response to Reply #54
55. atheism is the belief that there are no gods....
Edited on Sun Mar-05-06 03:01 PM by mike_c
Talk about not being able to grasp the distinction. Sheesh.

Let me ask you-- are you an atheist? I ask because I find your insistence upon defining atheism as the "lack" of something a bit disingenuous. If you're not an atheist, your insistence that you know better than the rest of us rings a bit hollow. If you are an atheist, do you really feel that your atheism is defined by some emptiness, some "missing" belief? That makes no sense to me.

As stated above, I am an atheist. Yes, that means that I do not believe in gods. But my understanding of the universe is not defined by my "lack of belief" in anything-- it's defined by the things I DO believe in, which simply do not happen to involve supernatural causes. Atheism is a system of beliefs that does not include gods or other supernatural causes, conversely, theism is a system of beliefs that does not include the possibility that natural law alone is sufficient to understand the universe. Why do you have such difficulty understanding this simple concept?
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mondo joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 03:36 PM
Response to Reply #55
56. Incorrect. It is the absence of a belief.
Atheism is the default. We are born without belief in gods, just as we are born without shoes.

Some put shoes on. Some assume beliefs about gods.

I am most certainly an atheist. And atheism simply means an absence of belief in gods. Why you think that's "empty" or "missing" is a mystery to me. You're attaching a value to this absence, whereas I place none. I am similarly absent a belief in fairies. I am similarly absent a ring through my nose. These are statements of fact, not value judgments.

You can believe in what you like -- but those are your beliefs. They may complement your atheism, but they are not atheism.

I understand the concept you are describing - but I don't agree. You posit more meaning in the term "atheism" than I believe is inherent, in the same way that some Christians posit onto "Christian" certain beliefs about abortion, homosexuality, etc.
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mondo joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 01:37 PM
Response to Reply #40
48. Atheism is an absence of belief. There are a range of other possible
beliefs that MAY occupy the atheist.

If your neighbor says "I do not drive a car" they may be on foot, they may use a bicycle, they may use a motorcycle, or they may just stay home.

Atheism merely states an absence of belief -- you are assuming another belief is linked to it.
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petronius Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 01:04 PM
Response to Reply #34
46. Isn't there a distinction made between 'strong' and 'weak' atheism?
'Strong' being the active belief that there is no god, and 'weak' being the absence of belief (no opinion one way or the other). Weak atheism sounds like what I've always called agnosticism...
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mondo joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 01:46 PM
Response to Reply #46
50. That is indeed the traditional split, but I don't usually reference it.
But the difference between atheism and agnosticism is greater.

Atheism is the absence of belief in gods.

Theism is the belief in gods.

Agnosticism is neither - it is a belief about what can be known.

I'd suggest once could be an agnostic and at the same time be atheist ("It's not possible to know if gods exist, but I don't believe they do"), or agnostic and theist ("It's not possible to know if gods exist, but I believe they do").
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yardwork Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:15 AM
Response to Reply #12
23. Thanks for posting this - note how many religions are represented
There is no excuse for discriminating against Wiccans. None whatsoever.

I am Pagan, although I don't identify as Wiccan. The discrimination against Wiccans and Pagans is unbelievable. People think we're satanists or something, when the opposite is true! We don't even believe in satan or the devil. Ours is a peaceful, loving spiritual path.
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kevinbgoode Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:21 AM
Response to Reply #23
25. Hon...that's why you are such a threat to the christian supremacists
the utter idea that someone might choose to believe something other than their fear-and-smear crap is viewed as an abomination.

It's rather interesting to compare their rhetoric about ex-gays being "silenced" by gay activists over the Right's moneymaking scam about sexual orientation conversion. There they play the victim. . .and then they turn around and attempt to silence other religious beliefs they view as a "threat." Part of their purpose in stacking the courts is to demand that only their religious belief be viewed as religiously correct.

Someone should go after these organizations.
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Rose Siding Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 09:50 AM
Response to Original message
13. More recently: "Wiccan request gains support"
CARSON CITY -- The battalion commander in charge of the Nevada National Guard unit that lost Sgt. Patrick Stewart in Afghanistan in September said Thursday that he believes the Department of Veterans Affairs will act favorably on a request to allow a Wiccan religious symbol to be used for Stewart's memorial at the Fernley veterans cemetery......

"I don't think any American soldier would object," he said. "We have a mixing ground of American society in the armed forces. We have soldiers from every walk of life and every faith. We are all accepted in our community."

Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., a veteran of Operation Desert Storm, said he would like to see the application acted on quickly.

"Obviously, it was disheartening to read about a brave soldier's widow unable to honor her husband at the memorial site in Fernley," Gibbons said in a statement. "It is my hope that the VA will act expeditiously to resolve this matter."

http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2006/Mar-03-Fri-...
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Mr_Spock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 09:53 AM
Response to Original message
14. That's anti-American, unconstitional & rotten to boot
How dare they treat a soldier who gave his life to our country like that!

Damned RW bigotry at it again is what it is.
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BR_Parkway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 09:54 AM
Response to Original message
15. That is outrageous - and as a Veteran, this is not the kind of crappy
treatment of our nation's finest that I signed up to protect.

Even DoD has recognized it as a religion since (I think) 1999
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yardwork Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:16 AM
Response to Reply #15
24. Thank you for your service to our country
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SPKrazy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:14 AM
Response to Original message
21. After Looking At The List (another poster below had)
I'm convinced that it is just a fact that perhaps no one has ever applied to have it included.

I mean they have a wide diversity of religious symbols listed.

I'm thinking that once the application is made it will be approved.

If it isn't, then there is a lawsuit.
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Solon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 12:55 PM
Response to Reply #21
42. Guess you never heard of the Pagan Veteran Headstone Campaign...
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SPKrazy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 05:27 PM
Response to Reply #42
57. No, I Haven't Heard Of The Pagan Veteran Headstone Campaign
Nor do I really care about it one way or the other.
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kevinbgoode Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:15 AM
Response to Original message
22. The "religiously correct" hate Wiccans
and naturally, they do believe in silencing the voices of any other religious belief they feel is a "threat." After all, if SpongeDobson can go all wacky over cartoon characters, do you think they are going to be all supportive of real life diversity in religious beliefs?

Someone in Missouri should copy that story's link and send it to EVERY member of the state's legislature, along with the major newspapers in the state.
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misternormal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 12:06 PM
Response to Reply #22
32. When we die, and go to whatever...
... "heaven" in which we believe... all truths will become known...

Until then everything is mere supposition.
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mondo joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 06:54 PM
Response to Reply #32
35. Or we'll be dead so we won't "go" anywhere, and won't know a thing.
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LiberalEsto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:39 AM
Response to Original message
29. How about a cup of hallucinogenic tea?
That seems to be okay according to the SC.
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misternormal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 12:04 PM
Response to Original message
31. It seems...
That it never ends does it?
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progressivebydesign Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 06:57 PM
Response to Original message
36. Our troops are DYING to protect THAT freedom for OTHERS.
What sad, sick, ironic, tale. They are dying so that Bush can spread "democracy" to other nations, so that they can practice their religion freely, isn't that the meme. This boggles the mind.
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proud patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 07:01 PM
Response to Reply #36
37. you are correct , it breaks my heart
:cry:
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alarcojon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 07:06 PM
Response to Original message
39. What is wrong with these people?
I know next to nothing about Wicca other than there are people who practice it as their religion. One of those people gave his life for his country. Honor him as he wished to be honored.
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FreedomAngel82 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 12:55 PM
Response to Original message
41. That's so wrong!
:mad:
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leanin_green Donating Member (823 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 01:14 PM
Response to Original message
47. I had a similar battle when I was in the Navy.
In my church going days while stationed in North Carolina I wanted to change my religious preference on my dog tags from 'No Preference' to 'Christian.' That's when the trouble started. They wouldn't let me have just 'Christian' on my dog tags. It had to be a certain sect, ie., Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist or such. So, they asked me, "Which one are you?" I said, "None of them, I'm a Christian." I fought long and hard for my particular distinction, but I eventually won out. The Navy finally got the idea that many people aren't sectarian in their expression of faith. Now I have the 'Christian' distinction on my dog tags and the Navy has amended their policy. Of course, that was in my church going days. Now I'm more inclined toward Sgt. Stewart's persuasion. But that battle is worth fighting.
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indie_voter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 01:55 PM
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53. I know in this day and age this is a irrelevant question
But is this constitutional?

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