Controversy over Religious Rights of Pagans in the Military

Source: Pagan Educational Network

On July 4, 1999, a press release was issued from the Pagan
Educational Network entitled, “Pagan
Leaders Champion Religious Freedom in Military.”


Controversy over Religious Rights of Pagans in the Military

Source: ABCNEWS.com

http://www.abcnews.go.com/onair/CloserLook/wnt990623_wehmeyer_story.html

On June 23, 1999, ABCNEWS.com reported on the Fort Hood Witches in Texas, “a group that includes active and retired Army personnel who are devotees of Wicca…Some local pastors, who consider witchcraft part of satanic worship, are outraged the Army is making room for witches. And conservative Christian groups are telling young men and women not to join the Army until the witches are banned.”


Controversy over Religious Rights of Pagans in the Military

Source: The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

On June 19, 1999, an article in The Atlanta Journal and Consititution stated that ”
Readers responding to last week’s ethics question overwhelmingly voiced their belief that Wiccans have the constitutional right to practice their religion — even on military installations. ‘I support the right of people of all religious backgrounds and faiths to practice as their beliefs and hearts require,’ Teresa Downing commented. ‘Religious freedom is one of the cornerstones of our country.’ … ‘People of other religions who are in the military have the freedom to practice as they choose. It should not be any different for someone who is pagan or Wiccan.’ April E. Conner, e-mail “


Controversy over Religious Rights of Pagans in the Military

Source: The Houston Chronicle

On June 11, 1999, The Freedom Forum Online offered an Associated Press article reporting that Religious groups urge Christians to boycott Army over Wiccans. The Houston Chronicle published a similar article stating that “conservative Christian organizations this week called for a nationwide boycott of the Army, demanding it reverse its policy of accommodating soliders with alternative religious beliefs.”


Controversy over Religious Rights of Pagans in the Military

Source: The Washington Post

On June 8, 1999, The Washington Post published an article
on the current situation of Wiccans in the military. The first Wiccan
group to be recognized by the military was the Fort Hood Open Circle,
which was formed two years ago at the largest military post in the
nation, Fort Hood, Texas. Since then, groups have formed on military
bases in Louisiana, Alaska, Okinawa, and Florida. The group in Fort
Hood drew public attention in March 1999, when they invited a
photographer to witness their spring ceremony and photos were printed
in the Austin American Statesman. The photos drew the ire of
politicians, especially Representative Robert Barr of Georgia, who
wrote, “Please stop this nonsense now,” to the commanding officer of
at Fort Hood. Many are disturbed by tolerance of minority religions
in the military, specifically “off-beat” religions like Wicca. Marcy
Palmer, the Fort Hood high priestess, stated that the military has
not been as bad as the outside world “Most people think of
(soldiers) as mindless robots who kill babies. But we see
more discrimination in the civilian world. The military is actually
more sensitive.” The Wiccans in Fort Hood have been granted a
campsite to use as their sacred space, which has helped a great deal
in allowing Wiccans to be more open about their religion. Sgt.
Campanaro, a Fort Hood Wiccan, stated: “I keep meeting people I never
knew were Wiccans. I’ve never seen so many out in one place.”


Controversy over Religious Rights of Pagans in the Military

Source: No source given.

On May 18, 1999, Representative Bob Barr’s press release
called for the exclusion of the Wiccan religion and Witchcraft from the countries’ military bases. Barr’s attack has been countered by many voices from within the Pagan community. The Witches’ Voice reports that “John Machate, Coordinator/CEO of the Military Pagan Network responded in a letter to Congressman Barr, “This is a direct attack on the Constitution of the United States. All religions are protected, not just those that Congress, the President or the Supreme Court determine. All religions are and should be permitted free practice on military bases, within reasonable limits, to insure that the service can accomplish its mission, and to quote Chief Justice Rehnquist, ‘foster instinctive obedience, unity, commitment, and esprit de corps…’ . Wicca, also known as witchcraft, in no way prevents the military from accomplishing its goals. By allowing service members and dependants to worship on post they are increasing morale of the troops and families as well as fulfilling their Constitutional obligation.”” Lady Liberty League is maintaining an updated news alert as this situation progresses.