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16 Jun
A campsite for the group's full-moon assemblies...

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 99 10:39:12 -0700
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Subject: A campsite for the group's full-moon assemblies...

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Editorial: Witches' brouhaha
The Army's Wiccans are not a broomstick brigade

Friday, June 11, 1999

"Men feared witches, and burned women."
	-- Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, 1927

No one is threatening to burn some U.S. soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, who
practice the religion of Wicca. But some scandalized Christians are storming
heaven, or at least the Pentagon, with complaints that the witches in
uniform are Satanists.

In making that charge, the Wiccans' critics are apparently under the spell
of their own prejudices. What is the Wicca religion all about? Could it be
Satan? According to The Washington Post, the devil is not in the details of
the Wiccans' beliefs. Rather, their faith is a mixture of "pre-Christian
paganism and New Age Earth worship."

Actually, even if the Wiccans were devil-worshippers, the Army would be hard
put to deny them the right to practice their religion, so long as they did
not violate any laws or undermine "good order and discipline."

Historically America has been the home to a dizzying array of religious
movements that more established faiths regarded as heretical or worse.
Though it has sometimes been honored in the breach, the First Amendment
stands for the principle that the government cannot pick and choose between

For the Army, that means a policy of facilitating the worship of enlisted
men and women must not take sides. To its credit, the Army has been
scrupulously fair to the Fort Hood Open Circle, as the Wiccan group is
called, allowing its members the services of a chaplain and providing a
campsite for the group's full-moon assemblies. Five other military bases
have also conferred recognition on Wicca congregations.

This is too much for Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia, who wrote to Fort Hood's
commanding officer demanding that the post "stop this nonsense now." Rep.
Barr fears that the Army is heading down a slippery slope that will someday
require armored divisions to travel with sacrificial animals for satanic
rituals. To which the Army's response would be: Not bloody likely.

The only sinister element in this witches' tales is the attempt to restrict
religious liberty by people who should know better.

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