Veterans Affairs Settles Religious Discrimination Suit

As a foundational principle, there can be no official, government-established religion in the United States. All religions are free to compete for adherents without governmental preference, and all who are within the country's borders have the freedom to worship (or not) as they please. For that reason, the religion of Wicca is entitled to the same governmental respect as every other sincerely-practiced religion.

It should not have taken a lawsuit to motivate the Department of Veterans Affairs to approve the engraving of a Wiccan religious symbol, the pentacle, on veterans' tombstones.

There are 1,800 Wiccans in the armed forces, according to a Pentagon survey cited in the suit, and Wiccans have their faith mentioned in official handbooks for military chaplains and noted on their dog tags.

Veterans Affairs officials no doubt shared the same view as noted constitutional scholar George Bush, who said of Wicca in 1999, "I don’t think witchcraft is a religion." Apart from mistaking (and trivializing) Wicca as "witchcraft," Bush previewed the arrogance we came to know in the ensuing years of his presidency. Who is George Bush to decide what faiths or spiritual beliefs deserve recognition as a religion? More importantly, how could an officeholder with the slightest understanding of constitutional law believe that the government is entitled to prefer some established religions over others? He must have been getting his legal advice from Alberto Gonzales.

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    Its about damn time (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Jen M on Wed Apr 25, 2007 at 05:42:52 AM EST
    For the soldiers who enlist and are sent to warzones there is enough to worry about. Knowing that the symbol of what you deeply believe will be banned from your headstone if you die is one worry they didn't need. It is also a comfort the family they leave behind desperately do need.

    What Bush or the VA or I think of the religion is irrelevant. We owe those soldiers.

    Veterans Affairs Settles Religious Discrimination (none / 0) (#1)
    by Sailor on Tue Apr 24, 2007 at 10:08:59 PM EST
    They may have settled it, but they did it grudgingly:
    "The government acted [...] to spare taxpayers the expense of further litigation."

    In reviewing 30,000 pages of documents from Veterans Affairs
    Under the terms of the settlement, Americans United had to return the documents and could not copy them

    Hmm (none / 0) (#2)
    by jarober on Tue Apr 24, 2007 at 10:16:56 PM EST
    He can join Janet Reno in the Hall of Tolerance.  Oh, wait - she burned religious outcasts alive.  

    Oh, oh, can I nominate some murderers? (none / 0) (#4)
    by walt on Wed Apr 25, 2007 at 12:42:01 AM EST
    Pres. Bill Clinton.

    Sec. Treasury Lloyd Bentsen (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms reported to him).

    Or maybe the managers at Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms such as the director, Steven Higgins, or special agent Darrell Dyer or William Krone or the agent in charge of the initial raid, Philip Chojnacki.

    How 'bout Gen. Wes Clark over there at the nearby Fort Hood?  Some rightwingnutz claim he helped organize the botched initial raid & some think he authorized a tactical ranger team (except Delta Force is at Fort Bragg).  He must have authorized the equipment used, such as tanks & combat engineer vehicles & stuff because none of the other commanders had any.

    Or FBI director William Sessions?  It's possible that he put special agent Jeff Jamar in charge, or assigned Richard Rogers, the hero of Ruby Ridge & the botched Randy Weaver raid, to lead the tactical team.

    One thing I've noticed for sure.  Nobody ever blames Vernon W. Howell (aka David Koresh).  Or his followers.


    interestingly (none / 0) (#3)
    by cpinva on Wed Apr 25, 2007 at 12:04:58 AM EST
    the supreme court, in a tax case, already decided what does and doesn't constitute a valid religion.

    the cite escapes me at the moment, but they established a set of tests, used to determine if a practice meets the bar of a recognized religion, solely for tax purposes of course.

    Whats the problem (none / 0) (#6)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Apr 25, 2007 at 08:19:59 AM EST

    The IRS already has to decide if a religion is real or a scam.  Why is it a problem for another agency to do the same?