[Re: Wiccan Soldier's Widow Petitions for Recognition.
Original story and link to the audio of the complete story can be found at: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5334805
Quoted from NPR's website, as listed above:
"All Things Considered, April 10, 2006 · The widow of a Nevada National Guardsman killed in Afghanistan wants her husband's Wiccan faith recognized. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs permits 38 religious symbols to adorn headstones and memorials, like the one commemorating Sgt. Patrick Stewart's unit. That list includes the Christian cross and even a symbol for atheists, but the government has not yet approved the Wiccan pentacle."] ============================================
The only truly fair (and definitely legal) thing to do in this case is either to allow the pentacle or take down all the crosses and everything else....otherwise there's clearly a bias and preferential treatment being given.
Now....as to WHY this is currently being denied, I think we can all clearly see that it's on account of the pentacle being assumed as evil by Christians (fundamentalists, Catholics and even-more-moderate/mainstreamers), because they count it as witchcraft/Satanism whether it's inverted or not.
But...under a truly non-establishmentarian form of law (non-preferential in terms of any religion being assumed/mandated), what one religion merely thinks of another and its symbols should not have an effect on the legal rights of that other religion to have its symbols recognized and used as a proper denotation of faith. It's
like (in business) claiming possession of someone else's trademark only to defame it. Just because some paranoid Christians may say that the pentacle means devil-worship, that doesn't mean they should be allowed to stand in the way of a fallen Wiccan soldier getting his due dignity.
ALSO...that means that even the inverted pentacle as a proper symbol of Satanism, and even a swastika as symbol of Odinism or Asatru (assuming that to be the self-chosen denotative symbol), should deserve the same right-of-use as religious symbols so long as the practiced faiths falls under the legal boundaries of 'freedom of religion'...controversial, yes, but listen:
I think that the primary societal justification of any religion's legal freedom should be this -- that its followers do not harm, molest, exploit, coerce or defame others (including among their own community) as part of the primary tenets of their belief, and that they do not advocate violence or political mandates against outsiders on account of whether they themselves follow the same beliefs, rituals or specifically cultural/moral restrictions.
If your religion holds to that, great and welcome to the free exercise and expression of it in a free world -- and if not, then why the hell should it deserve any respect or toleration as a matter of "personal belief"?