A Wisconsin witch is once again leading the fight for freedom of religion in the US. Circle Sanctuary’s high piestess, Selena Fox met by phone with a Veterans Administration official on March 2 to confirm the Sanctuary’s application for the Wiccan pentangle to be included with more than 30 other such emblems allowed on gravestones and makers in veterans cemeteries.
She has taken up the fight in support of family members of deceased National Guard soldier Patrick Stewart of Nevada who died with three other soldiers in September when their Chinook helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade while returning to their base for refueling in Afghanistan. His dog tags, which his widow Roberta now wears around her neck, carry the word Wiccan on them to identify his religious beliefs.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and its National Cemetery Administration prohibit any graphics on government-furnished headstones or markers other than those they have approved as “emblems of belief.” From the Christian cross to the Buddhist wheel of righteousness, certain symbols are permitted including a symbol for atheists but not the pentangle – a five-pointed star facing upward, surrounded by a circle.
A Canadian boy has won the right for Sikhs to carry knives at school. Canada’s Supreme Court gave the green light yesterday for the kirpan, a small knife of religious significance to Sikhs, to be carried in public schools. The case originated in Montreal’s Marguerite-Bourgeoys school board in 2001 and involved Gurbaj Singh Multani. Now 17, Multani says he is not bitter over the five-year legal dispute launched when he accidentally dropped his kirpan while playing at recess.
“People are getting more interested in our religion, ignorance is going away because of this case,” he told a news conference.
Sikh men wear the kirpan as a symbol of baptism. Sikhism, the world’s fifth largest religion, was started in the 16th Century by Guru Nanak, a religious teacher. There are 25 million Sikhs in the world.