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VA Allows Wiccan Symbol On Grave Markers - Page 2

post #31 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsAreBetter View Post
Anyway, the point here being that while I do think all religions should be represented, if that cemetary is like Arlington where it's an "honor" bestowed upon someone.. it's very traditional and it's an option or choice to be buried there and not a requirement, so in theory, people could pick to be buried somewhere else if they didn't like the choices. That being said though.. which view is right.. choose to be buried somewhere else if that's an option? Or fight for the right to represent whatever it is that you believe. I think everyone is entitled to their beliefs but, does this fall into a category of.. well, "you live in my house, live by my rules" type of thing? I guess what I'm getting at here is, is this public or private?

I admit I only read part of the article because I didn't have enough time to read it all.
The thing is, since it is a military institution, it is funded by the government including the headstones. As such, it must conform to the Constitution which obviously clearly states Freedom of Religion. It is an honor for veterans to be buried in a national cemetary, whether Arlington or anywhere else. It can also be a financial choice - the government pays for part or all of burial expenses for military veterans - so should a Wiccan who is not financially well off not receive the death benefits the same as any other, just because s/he wants their religion represented on their headstone?
post #32 of 42
I think everyone should have freedom of religion. I'm agnostic (and a serious liberal) personally, and I guess I'm sort of taking the side of devil's advocate (and perhaps that's a poor choice of words given the topic), but..the military in this country has never, as far as I know, conformed to the constitution. The military operates by a completely different set of laws. One of the things, if I'm not mistaken, when you join the military is that you are sworn in under God. I might be mistaken, and assuredly there should be a lot more freedom within the military, but, if you join the military, and are willing to make a concession to not be sworn in under your religion, don't you sort of make that concession for when you die as well? And I'm just posting random thoughts here.. I'm not jumping up and down and screaming, I swear, lol. It's just stuff that occurred to me, man! I swear!

In any case.. if you're willing to concede this in life, then ultimately does it really matter in death? My sister made a point the other day (when I sent flowers to a coworker) that funerals and memorials of the dead aren't really for the dead, they're for the living. I have to concede her point in that, given my beliefs in the "afterlife" such as they are.

I'm thinking if we want to change this kind of thing, then we need to start at the source, and maybe that source, or at least one of the sources in this case is the military. If this were something accepted by the military on a regular day to day basis, I don't think this problem would have ever come up in whether or not the religion was accepted on the headstone. But I guess there is an arguement here that there are multiple relgions accepted and Wicca was not one of them, and that's restrictive of particular rights and freedoms. I guess my point with that is (and this only applies if the above is accurate)..does it do any good to win this battle for our soldiers after they're dead? I guess I'm just wishing for all around religious tolerance here and I don't see how it's tolerent if you're being sworn in "under God." I admit that this may have changed since the last time I talked to someone about it or looked into it.

It is definitely a valid point that the military will pay for a funeral at one of these cemetaries as opposed to not paying if they're not buried there... but I don't know if that is actually the case or not, since I've never been in that situation. If they don't pay for their soldiers funerals at all cemetaries but do at particular ones, then they really ought to pay for a military service for whatever their servicemen and their families choose, but I guess that's another topic altogether.

Anyway, I was just tossing some thoughts out there. I swear I wasn't arguing or saying that they don't deserve the freedom of choosing the religion. It's just a few thoughts that occurred to me as I was reading this thread.
post #33 of 42
It is an honor to be buried there. By saying that they can choose to be buried somewhere else if they want something else done to their grave/headstone...
it's like saying they can choose to have the honor of being buried there and sacrifice their beliefs which nobody else has to do, or they can be buried somewhere else and not get the honor. Why should they have to choose?
post #34 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsAreBetter View Post
The military operates by a completely different set of laws. One of the things, if I'm not mistaken, when you join the military is that you are sworn in under God. I might be mistaken, and assuredly there should be a lot more freedom within the military, but, if you join the military, and are willing to make a concession to not be sworn in under your religion, don't you sort of make that concession for when you die as well?
You are right about the oath, at least, in the 1970's. I have no idea about now. But, there is a twist to that. When I reported to basic, I was asked, "Are you Protestant, Catholic or Jewish?" I said, "Uh, none of those!"....and the Corporal in receiving said, "Ok, that makes you a Protestant!" I actually had to look up Protestant to find out what my assigned religion actually meant. I have my dogtags to this day, and they still have "PROT" stamped on them. But like I said, I have no idea what it's like now, other than in the article, it said that George Bush was upset that Wicca soldiers were being allowed to practice their faith on military bases.
post #35 of 42
But is it an honor to serve a military who doesn't honor YOU and your individual rights? Is it really an honor to be buried somewhere that won't allow all religious aspects?

But you're right, they shouldn't have to choose. And, unfortunately, now that I've looked up the military enlistment oath, you may swear or affirm, *however* at the end of the oath, you have to say the phrase "so help me God." I'm not quite sure what difference it makes to affirm if you then have to say those words anyway, but if you're Wiccan, isn't that a religion that supports more than one god or goddess? So, by having joined the military in the first place, they've already made a choice or a concession to the military's/government's will, for lack of a better term.

I guess I'm not effectively getting my point across, here, because I'm not anti-religion, and I'm actually glad this was passed, but if the military doesn't honor who and what you are, how is it an honor to be buried in one of their cemetaries?

I think I'm struggling with a few points here. One is, why should the military concede in death where they don't concede to the individual beliefs in someone's life? Someone who joins the military joins knowing when they swear the oath that says "so help me God" that this is the religion that the military supports. I'm just not sure why the military is being held responsible for this after someone has died and not while they're alive. I personally don't see the logic in that. Is it right of them to do, not in the least. But do they do it?? Yes, and they do it far earlier in the process than after a soldier's death.

And in all honesty, and I"m sure there are others who see it differently, I just don't see how it's an honor to be buried somewhere that doesn't respect and honor you. It's supposed to be an honor. But if someone doesn't respect and honor your right to religion, and for most people religion is a very large aspect of their life, and it's some form of guidance to them, helps to form the very moral fiber of their being... isn't not honoring your religion saying I don't like who you are? Maybe I don't understand it because I don't practice any formal religion at all. To me that's not honoring the soldier, that's honoring the entity that the soldier belonged to. If that's not the case then the military should be honoring all soldiers who served (and sorry for the redundancy) honorably no matter where they decide to be buried, no matter what religion they are, in life, or in death.

In any case, I think the honor is in who the person was, and not in where they're buried at, but that's besides the point at the moment. I just wanted to add that though.
post #36 of 42
You pretty much get used to dealing with things like that... Like the pledge of allegiance. I refuse to say that part of it because I don't think that they should have added it in the first place. It's a relic of Mccarthyism, as is a lot of that kind of stuff, because we were fighting the Communists who were atheist.

Wow, Mike. It's weird that Protestant was the default religion... My mom loves to tell me a story about applying for a job and they asked her "Preferred religion" (when they could still do that!) and she put "Buddhist" because she didn't realize they were asking "What religion are you?" She answered it like "What religion do you like?"
post #37 of 42
lol i have found that lots of places outside of the US will ask for your religion when you apply for a job.
post #38 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zissou'sMom View Post
Wow, Mike. It's weird that Protestant was the default religion... My mom loves to tell me a story about applying for a job and they asked her "Preferred religion" (when they could still do that!) and she put "Buddhist" because she didn't realize they were asking "What religion are you?" She answered it like "What religion do you like?"
Actually, thinking about it now, I believe that things have probably changed a lot in the military, just from news stories over the last few years. Seems to me there was an investigation at one of the academies a couple years ago because one of the instructions was pushing his religion on cadets. Personal faith may play a lot bigger part now than it used too.
post #39 of 42
Wicca was officially recognized as a bonafide religion in the mid 1990s, and even the chaplains, by the Department of Defense. They have a big book of recognized religions (many more than the 3 that Mike was offered ) and now Wicca is in it.

In talking with my husband, a fairly recent veteran, he said that the graves is a different part - it is Veteran's Affairs (VA), not DOD. Also, regarding the burial stuff, they will give you a cash amount for burial outside of a federal cemetary, but the cash amount generally won't cover the full burial expense in a private cemetary.
post #40 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skippymjp View Post
You are right about the oath, at least, in the 1970's. I have no idea about now. But, there is a twist to that. When I reported to basic, I was asked, "Are you Protestant, Catholic or Jewish?" I said, "Uh, none of those!"....and the Corporal in receiving said, "Ok, that makes you a Protestant!" I actually had to look up Protestant to find out what my assigned religion actually meant. I have my dogtags to this day, and they still have "PROT" stamped on them. But like I said, I have no idea what it's like now, other than in the article, it said that George Bush was upset that Wicca soldiers were being allowed to practice their faith on military bases.
Mike it's kind of funny that you say that. When my husband went in he said he was a Catholic. Well for some reason on his dog tags his blood type is put right next to his religion so it says this: A positive Catholic. I've always giggled about that.

I do have the option of being buried in a military graveyard because of my husband's service, and I've always wanted my religion represented. It's good to know now that I have that option.
post #41 of 42
Ohh, that makes a big difference to families then too! Good deal! I was wondering because I wasn't sure how it all worked re: the cemetaries v. the military. If it's a different entity then that makes my thought pattern invalid.

Well anyway, overall I am glad that followed through on the recognition and included it on the gravesites.
post #42 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by theimp98 View Post
lol i have found that lots of places outside of the US will ask for your religion when you apply for a job.
It's not a laughing matter in a lot of those places, though. Germany is one of them, since you have to pay "church tax". If you don't want to pay it, you have to formally leave the church. It really bothers me that there's an "official record" of your religious affiliation in a country that nearly completely annihilated one religious minority in the past century, and still has incidents of desecration of Jewish cemeteries, for example.

It's dangerous in countries with religious strife right now, or a history of discriminating against religious minorities, and there are more than enough of them, like Iraq, Turkey, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sudan, China, and, and, and. I also fear that Muslims are facing a lot of discrimination in Western countries due to the acts of Islamic extremists.

I suppose the military has to keep a record of one's religion, in the event of a mortal wounding or death, because some sort of "non-denominational" chaplain might not suffice in many cases.
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