Pagan pentacle accepted by U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

The pentagram within a circle, a symbol of faith used by many Wiccans, sometimes called a pentacle.

The Wiccan pentacle was added to the list of 38 emblems allowed on United States government-issued headstones for soldiers, according to a settlement announced Monday April 23.

The settlement was in response to a lawsuit brought on behalf of nine families by the advocacy groups ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AUSCS). One of these was the family of Sgt. Patrick Stewart, 34, who was killed in Afghanistan, who was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. His wife Roberta Stewart said in the year prior to the settlement "This is discrimination against our religion".

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn of the AUSCS said: "This settlement has forced the Bush Administration into acknowledging that there are no second class religions in America, including among our nation's veterans."

Wicca is a nature-based religion. Many Wiccans, though not all, include themselves in Paganism or Neopaganism. There are an estimated one million Neopagans in the world today.