Sunday, April 14, 2013

Wiccan Recognized

Neopagans are a religious minority in every country where they exist and have been subject to religious discrimination. The largest Neopagan communities are in North America and the United Kingdom, along with other countries.
The word "religion" in North America is often associated with a centralized organization, local religious buildings, a minister preaching to a congregation, a single male deity, an extensive creed, etc. These factors are not really present within Wicca. This causes some people to conclude that Wicca/Witchcraft is not a religion.

"In God we trust" has appeared on most U.S. coins since 1864 and on paper currency since 1957.

A case was brought in 1983 in the U.S. District Court in Michigan. The court found that 3 employees of a prison had restricted an inmate in the performance of his Wiccan rituals. This "deprived him of his First Amendment right to freely exercise his religion and his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection of the laws."

On June 24, 1999, then-Governor George W. Bush stated on a television news program that "I don’t think witchcraft is a religion and I wish the military would take another look at this and decide against it."  U.S. Army Chaplain Captain Don Larsen was dismissed from his post in Iraq in 2006 after changing his religious affiliation from Pentecostal Christianity to Wicca and applying to become the first Wiccan military chaplain.
Prior to 2007, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) did not allow the use of the pentacle as an "emblem of belief" on tombstones in military cemeteries. This policy was changed following an out-of-court settlement on April 23 following a series of lawsuits against the VA.

Whether you're a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, if you're a Wiccan, you're entitled to the same religious rights as people of other faiths. You can have the word "Wiccan" imprinted on your dog tag, you can pray to your own Gods or Goddesses and you can even attend services and rituals held on your base, if you're fortunate enough to be in an area that has other Wiccans in it.  The Military Chaplain's Handbook acknowledges Wicca within its pages and outlines procedures for interacting with Wiccan soldiers.

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs does not list any Asatru symbols as available emblems of belief for placement on government headstones and markers.  Asatru Folk Assembly have demanded such a symbol. However, there are steps for requesting a new emblem of belief be placed on government headstones or memorial plaques.  Thor's Hammer has been added to the military list of symbols of belief, it can be added on a headstone in national cemeteries.

Wiccan and other Neopagan groups have been recognized by governments in the U.S. and Canada and given tax exempt status. Wiccan priests and priestesses have been given access to penitentiaries in both countries and the privilege of performing handfastings/marriages.

In 2013, Fox News 6 anchors inaccurately portray Wiccans in light of the University of Missouri's long-standing decision to include the Wiccan and Pagan holidays and their descriptions in their campus holiday Guide to Religions: Major Holidays and Suggested Accommodations. The University of Missouri stated, "The information about the Wiccan & Pagan holidays has been in the guide since last fall. Keep in mind that this is not intended just for faculty. This is an informational guide for anyone across campus."

While the decisions made by the University of Missouri are fully wholesome and accurate, the angle presented by the anchors of weekday Fox News was not. "Every Wiccan I've known is either a compulsive Dungeons & Dragons player or is a middle-aged twice divorced older woman living in a rural area who works as a midwife," says Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson.  (    warning: the information in this video is inaccurate) 

Wiccan is a nature based religion and it has been recognized as such in the United States and Canada. In the U.S., Wicca has full recognition as a religion and is granted all rights as such under the Constitution.  It is a dedication made to nature, the deities and yourself.  It is a way of life and as such we are mindful of the balance between ourselves and all things within the universe at all times.

Many Americans generally believe that their Constitution guarantees their freedom to worship as they please.  It is sadly not always the case.  Ancient Americans came to this country seeking many things including religious freedom.  It is a battle that continues today for Wicca, Islam, Amish, Native Americanism and more. 
New Symbol as of May 2013

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