When the Washington Times thinks it’s appropriate to publish a column stating the Air Force Academy is “pandering” to my “fringe” religion, despite the fact that Pagans have fought and died for this country, I get angry.So do I. Star Foster has a more productive idea than ranting, and that's to petition to get some more pagan voices into the mainstream.Around the 1950s, fringe leftists enamored by the concept of worshiping the Earth adopted the ancient labels and pretended to follow the old ways.When David Barton can advocate for a Christian government and actively work against my religious rights only to get away with lying about these activities on television, I get angry.The true historic meaning of “religion” excludes paganism and witchcraft, and thus, does not compel a conclusion that McCollum has state taxpayer standing … paganism and witchcraft were never intended to receive the protections of the Religion Clauses.When I have to deal with people who feel it’s appropriate to tell me I will burn in hell because they are the “keepers of the truth”, I get angry.
Specifically, Jason Pitzl-Waters on the Daily Show.
Instead I’m going to ask you to write The Daily Show and suggest they invite The Wild Hunt author and Washington Post columnist Jason Pitzl-Waters on the show to discuss David Barton and the real challenges religious minorities face in this country.
As a journalist he is familiar with the legal battle facing Patrick McCollum, the discrimination against Santeria, the triumphs of and challenges before the Lady Liberty League, the AFA earth-centered spirituality space, the Witch-Children of Africa and India, and many more stories important to our communities. He’s the journalist at the nexus of all of these stories, and he’s an excellent public speaker.
I'm going to take a moment to whine personally here. I do not represent pagans or the military or even pagans in the military. I certainly am not telling anyone US Air Force policy. I just want to tell you a little about my experience.
I'm scheduled to go a less intense unit soon, but in the midst of preparing for that, training my replacements for my multiple additional duties, and taking care of my personal stuff I was in the all-consuming field exercise this month. I just spent weeks working my ass off to help train and prepare folks so they can go to the middle of nowhere and do their job even when there are no amenities and a bunch of people are trying to kill them. That's not political, that's what we fucking do no matter who's in charge. (Whether it's for good or bad is all based on who you vote into office if you're in the US, so if you're an American citizen who sits out the primaries because "only the jerks ever win" I personally hate your guts.)
While I was in Afghanistan last fall, I saw no information about pagan services or a pagan rep at the chapel, but regular Christian services were scheduled. We had one Muslim dude in our unit, and he had to personally contact the Chapel to get a waiver for some Ramadan practices. They were nice about it, he didn't get any trouble over it, he just needed a special letter for some uniform thing. I never got any trouble over my solitary practices and I didn't feel a need to keep my religion under wraps on site, but I wasn't comfortable going to the Chaplain about Wiccan stuff and there was no contact information available for pagans there. I accept There were posted hours for Christian services, though.
At the field ex last week, Sunday was tear-down day. Work for everyone taking down equipment and tents. I got a good laugh when my boss (who knows that I am a witch) interrupted me to ask me if I wanted to go to Church. Our Group's Chaplain came down from base and they were busing anyone who wanted to attend Christian services to the nearby German Chapel. My boss was required to ask everyone in the office if they wanted to attend, to make sure no one who wanted to go missed it.
This is not against the rules, or oppressive. I haven't seen anything personally to file a complaint about (I've heard stories, but I've been lucky) or been treated bad by anyone in my chain of command. I've just seen some examples of the consideration Christians get that I will never see extended to pagans. It's like how Christmas is a federal holiday but I have to ASK for a special consideration if I want Beltane off. It's just an extra step I have to take (though I haven't ever actually gotten Beltane off...). These conveniences are all over the place, and I can actually see the necessity because it would suck if someone missed the bus for Sunday services while they were pulling up grounds like I was...
Anyway, I understand completely that I'm the rare religion here. I don't want to end Christian services or anything like that, and I'm not mad at anyone who goes to Church. I understand that if I want a group service for my religion, I have to contact the Chaplain personally (and cross my fingers that he's not a dick, because some of them are about this) and if we don't have a POC already ask around the unit to find the pagans and get a group together. I've known this at every base, it's more difficult some places and less others. And really, this unit is not bad in the regard.
I understand that there are a bazillion Christians, so everything is already nicely set up for Christians. There will always be networking at Churches. They don't have to worry about whether or not there's a volunteer POC for all of monotheism at their new base. They don't have to explain what they're reading when someone sees their bible. Good for them. That actually doesn't make me angry.
What makes me angry is when someone tries to make it seem like I want special treatment when I want the same consideration the Christians get.
What makes me angry is that we can't get a Pagan Chaplain attached to any of the four branches.
What makes me angry is that if I want the symbol of my religion on my tombstone to protect my remains and soothe my soul after death, the VA Administration is going to pale and stammer and give my relatives the runaround.
What makes me angry is that a ridiculous extremist can be elected if they're a Christian, but pagans and Atheists are scared risk political doom if they just mention their beliefs.
What makes me angry is when I log onto my computer to see someone who likely wouldn't even think of joining the National Guard in an admin position talk about how my religion isn't a real religion, it doesn't matter, and that we are being PAMPERED and PANDERED to when someone dares to set a place of worship aside for us.
This is old in social networking time, but it's still necessary. Do me a personal favor and do this, even if you're an atheist or a Christian reader. I want to see an intelligent Pagan speaking on these subjects in the mainstream for once.