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Wiccan pentacle is OKd for vets’ graves

From the Associated Press

The Wiccan pentacle has been added to the list of emblems allowed in national cemeteries and on government-issued headstones for soldiers, according to a settlement announced Monday.

The settlement between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Wiccans adds the five-pointed star to the list of “emblems of belief” allowed on VA grave markers.

Eleven families nationwide are waiting for grave markers with the pentacle, said Selena Fox, a Wiccan high priestess with Circle Sanctuary in Barneveld, Wis., a plaintiff.

The settlement calls for the pentacle, whose five points represent earth, air, fire, water and spirit, to be placed on grave markers within 14 days for those who have pending requests with the VA.

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“I am glad this has ended in success in time to get markers for Memorial Day,” Fox said.

The VA sought the settlement in the interest of the families involved and to save taxpayers the expense of further litigation, VA spokesman Matt Burns said. The agency also agreed to pay $225,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs.

The pentacle has been added to 38 symbols the VA already permits on gravestones. They include commonly recognized symbols for Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism, as well as those for smaller religions such as Sufism Reoriented, Eckankar and the Japanese faith Seicho-No-Ie.

“This settlement has forced the Bush administration into acknowledging that there are no second-class religions in America, including among our nation’s veterans,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which represented the Wiccans in the lawsuit.

Wicca is a religion based on respect for the earth, nature and the cycle of the seasons.


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