Evolving Thoughts

Evolution, culture, philosophy and chocolate! John Wilkins' continuing struggle to come to terms with impermanence... "Humanus sum, nihil humanum a me alienum puto" - Terence

Monday, May 29, 2006

State religion encroaching on military freedoms to believe

While I'm working through the conceptual tangle I've gotten myself in over microbial species. allow me to mention this item from Mike Dunford's The Questionable Authority: apparently the US Army National Cemetery Administration will not permit Wiccans to use a symbol for the headstones of dead veterans.

Guys, the reason why there's a separation of church and state in the first place is because of just this sort of encroachment. If you aren't of an "approved" religion (and note that despite the present President's prior comments about Wiccans in the military, Wicca is an approved religion in the US military anyway), you get sidelined. Doesn't matter that you gave your life for your nation (or for the policies of the same Administration at least). You can't be remembered as the person that you were.

Religion in public affairs has an inbuilt disposition to encroach upon the freedoms of others, whether they are religious or not. It seems to me this is conveniently overlooked by those of the majority religions when it suits them, and they scream loudly when it harms their own interests, perceived or otherwise, or goals and aims. But one never sees atheism or agnosticism encroaching on religion in a secular society (I think that the Soviet and Maoist communisms were not secular, but a form of state religion). This must be why all those majority Christians claim there is a war on religion, when agmostics, atheists and members of minority religions don't like being subsumed under the ruling majority.

How does a religion even get approval? Is there a Senate standing committee that reviews applications for state approval of religion? I thought that was the sort of thing that the Cold War was notionally about...

Good thing I'm not in the US military (well, actually, there are many reasons why that is a good thing, not least for those who might have had to rely on me in combat). If I died in service I'd want to be buried under a very large question mark. That would be appropriate for an agnostic. Although if I died in combat, I'd probably also want a large exclamation mark too. Not for nothing do compositors call it a "shriek", "screamer", or "bang".

Late note: see this post from Dispatches from the Culture Wars for more background.