The Air Force Recognizes the Asatruar

You can be excused for missing this story, since I can’t find a single article in the mainstream press about it. (I certainly missed it!) I can’t even find a conservative Christian rant on the subject, which is pretty amazing really. Guest Post: Air Force Adds Asatru and Heathen to Religious Preference List.

I used to cover minority religions quite a bit on this blog, because I think it says a lot about how the country views “the other.” (Icht Bien Ein Auslander!) The last time I covered the topic regularly was a few years back when the Wiccans were suing the Department of Veterans Affairs for the right to have the pentacle placed on grave markers and on cenotaphs. Well, that seems like it wasn’t the end of the story.

It seems that none of the regular services would recognize Asatru or Heathen members. As of July 29, 2014, the US Air Force does recognize them. And the amazing thing is, they were able to move that mountain without resorting to a law suit. (The Humanists had just sued the Air Force – and won.)

HammerOfThorThe Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard still do not recognize Asatru. The VA apparently already recognizes Heathen beliefs, as the Hammer of Thor (the most-used symbol) is available to be ordered on a grave marker.

The Air Force has been sued in recent years for making cadets attend Christian programs. Then they got beat up by the Christians when they designated an area for the Wiccans and other nature religions. (The Asatruar will have to speak for themselves, but my understanding is that although a lot of ceremonies happen outdoors, they do not practice a nature religion.)

Religious Freedom is supposed to be a cornerstone of our republic. But a lot of people only want that freedom for themselves and their friends. (They like to discount things like The Treaty of Tripoli – and in particular article 11 of that treaty – which was negotiated under George Washington’s administration, and sent to the Senate by John Adams’ administration. It was ratified by the Senate on the tenth of June 1797.)

If you don’t support freedom of speech for everyone, even the people who upset you, then you don’t support free speech. If you don’t support freedom of religion for all religions, then who is it that you want to suppress?

In an interesting coincidence, there is an article in Der Spiegle about why Germany has been (and remains) utterly incapable of prosecuting Nazi war criminals.

According to historian Andreas Eichmüller, of the 6,500 members of the SS who served in Auschwitz and survived the war, only 29 were convicted in West Germany and reunified Germany, while about 20 were convicted in East Germany.

How you treat people who are not exactly like you, matters. Maybe more than you think.

The State of Our Educational Institutions, or WTF?

This is the kind of thing you expect to see in the Onion. Student expelled for casting a spell |

An Oklahoma high school suspended a 15-year-old student after accusing her of casting a magic spell that caused a teacher to become sick, lawyers for the student said on Friday.

Aside from questions of freedom of religion – if the student was Wiccan (she isn’t, she’s Catholic) – what the F were these “professionals” thinking?

“I, for one, would like to see the so-called evidence this school has that a 15-year-old girl made a grown man sick by casting a magic spell,” [Joann Bell, executive director of the ACLU’s Oklahoma chapter] said.

And if the administration of that “school” really believes she can cast a spell and make someone sick, exactly how is sending her home going to make anyone safe? Is there a range on magic spells I am unaware of?”

I am not Wiccan, but tracking how Wicca and Wiccans are viewed in the culture is a pretty good indication of cultural tolerance. Or intolerance. Not to mention the general level of insanity in the culture. And in this part of Oklahoma, I would say that the level of tolerance is low, and the level of insanity is off the charts.

That’s Gonna Leave a Mark – A Politician Gets Schooled on the Origins of Christmas Customs

Evergreens and holly and mistletoe don’t have squat to do with Christianity. Here is a history lesson in the form of a smack-down. The Tyee – An 'Infidel' Writes: Dear Mr. Pallister, Since You Asked.

For example, when some ill-informed zealot tells me Jesus is “the reason for the season” it’s only generations of WASP-y repression preventing me from launching into a history lecture on the spot.

Sure it’s Canada, but it’s still fun.

Creationism Still an Issue – School in Ohio Considering It

Never underestimate the power of human stupidity. Americans United Warns Ohio School Board To Keep Creationism Out Of Science Classes | Americans United.

Any public school contemplating teaching creationism might as well just hang up a giant banner that reads “Sue Us Now,’”said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United [for the Separation of Church and State].

The last school district to go up against Americans United. Lost. Had to pay Americans United 1 million dollars (attorneys fees), and everyone on the school board who voted for the Creationism insanity was voted out of office. (That last is actually surprising, but it seems Americans are finally starting to pay attention to how tax money is spent.)

Why Were They Even Wasting Taxpayers’ Money?

Oh, because Jesus told them too, no doubt. Missouri library agrees not to block witch websites : News.

The headline is a bit misleading. The girl who the suit was for, was trying to research Native-American spirituality. (I think the plaintiff has some Native-American heritage, but I can’t find that today…) Something that was forbidden by the powers-that-be (or think-they-are) in the Salem, Missouri library system. Guess what is the majority religion in Salem. (Hint: It is isn’t the worship of Freedom.)

“Even libraries that are required by federal law to install filtering software to block certain sexually explicit content should never use software to prevent patrons from learning about different cultures,” said Tony Rothert, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, in a prepared statement.

A lawyer for the library could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.

The director of the library had previously refused to unblock certain sites, or only unblock the main page of each site. She then said she had a duty to report if people were going to “misuse information.” How exactly do you misuse information on minority religions?

Religious Freedom is supposed to be a cornerstone of this country. It would be nice if everybody thought so. Or at least acted like they believed it.

UPDATE: “Hunter was researching death and death rituals in minority religions in an effort to get more in touch with her Native American roots through spirituality”

Where is the Fox News Outrage?

Surely this is more insidious than a university having a religious-diversity policy. Wiccan inmates can sue to gain chaplain – SFGate.

This story hasn’t generated the vitriol I expected after the Tucker Carlson/University of Missouri kerfuffle of the last week or so. I mean this is a government agency having to change the way they spend money (maybe) on religion.

The appeals court told a federal judge in Fresno to determine whether the state prisons are unconstitutionally preferring majority religions over Wicca and other minority faiths without paid chaplains, such as Buddhism and Hinduism. The judge had dismissed the Chowchilla inmates’ lawsuit, a ruling the appeals court overturned Tuesday.

By some counts there are more Wiccans than Jews in CA jails, but there is a full-time, paid Jewish chaplain. Because hey, Judaism is just cooler in the eyes of the establishment (and folks like Tucker Carlson). The Appeals Court has said that may be distributing resources in a way that favors one religion over another. Neutral criteria are required.

As I said before, I am not Wiccan. But following how Wicca is treated (and other minority religions) is a pretty good indicator of the level of Freedom in the Land of the Free. The historical record isn’t good. And the recent record isn’t much better.

U Missouri and Religious Holidays: Wiccans 8, Christians 7, Jews 11

Fox News has been going on about how the University of Missouri has asked professors to be accommodating to religious groups. Fox is upset that one of the religious groups is Wicca. On Fox & Friends: Tucker Carlson Attacks Wiccans As Christianity Haters! – NewsHounds.

They talk endlessly about how many holidays the Wiccans have. But they don’t even have the most number of holidays.

And the guide published by the university never said to NOT schedule anything on these days, just to take it into consideration.

Perhaps Tucker Carlson thinks that major events should be scheduled during the Jewish High Holidays. (The University of Chicago did not start classes in the fall until AFTER the Jewish high holidays. Maybe Mr. Carlson has a problem with that. (It made the fall term pretty short, and spring term run very late, but what are you going to do when the faculty wouldn’t be available for a big part of 2 weeks?)

Fox News and Tucker Carlson aren’t upset about religious holidays; they are upset about Wicca. They are upset because it is no longer possible to cram Christianity down every non-Christian throat. Otherwise, they wouldn’t lie by omission. If they are upset only because Wicca has one more holiday than Christianity (as far as this UMissouri guide is concerned) why are they not upset about the extra 4 holidays the Jewish faith enjoys?

Minority Religions and 113th Congress

You find interesting things surfing the intertubes. I am often interested in how minority religions are treated in America. It is a reflection of how other minorities are treated. (Hint: the track record isn’t too good.) Historic Religious Firsts in the 113th U.S. Congress | The Wild Hunt.

This article is a profile of 3 new members of Congress: Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard, Senator Mazie Hirono also of Hawaii and Representative Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona. Not one of them is Christian. Continue reading

Christians Distressed that Non-Christians Are in Congress

That is the basic beef. Tulsi Gabbard isn’t Christian. And so when she has a private swearing-in ceremony, she won’t be using a Christian text. What a shock! First Hindu Elected to U.S. Congress to Take Oath on Bhagavad Gita Instead of Bible.

Tulsi Gabbard, 31, a Democrat, won her bid for election in a heavily Democratic area of Hawaii earlier this month. Now, she will be representing Hawaii’s second district in Congress beginning in January.

She replaces the first Buddhist ever elected to Congress.

Gabbard served in the Hawaii state legislature, and after that tenure joined the Hawaii National Guard. She served in both Iraq and Kuwait.

But all of that isn’t good enough for the hard-core Christians. They don’t believe anyone but Christians should be elected. (Even Rick Santorum had bad things to say about Hinduism and Gabbard’s faith.) They just don’t get it.

There are no religious tests for public office. That is in the Constitution. (The Right LOVES the Constitution, except when it doesn’t.) And the idea that a state might elect an non-Christian, and even someone not tied to the Lavant, is just puzzling to them.

In response to Santorum’s disgusting statement, Gabbard responded with a little class.

“It is stunning that some people in Congress would so arrogantly thumb their nose at the Bill of Rights,” Gabbard wrote in response in a statement to the media. “When I volunteered to put my life on the line in defense of our country, no one asked me what my religion was.”

Actually, they may have asked, but that would only be so she could get religious support for her faith – assuming it was available – and the correct grave marker if it ever came to the point where she had to give her life for her country. But they wouldn’t ask to screen her out. And it is stupid of folks like Rick Santorum to say anything negative about her faith. Her faith isn’t the issue. (And as long as Republicans like Santorum think it should be the issue, they will probably continue to lose.)

Why Republicans Are Losing Ground – Hate Doesn’t Work

Hate is not winning elections. For a long time, Republicans could count on Hate and Fear to swing elections. But that time is past. If you didn’t read that in Tuesday’s outcome, you are missing something. Every anti-gay proposition was defeated, and the first open lesbian was elected to the Senate. Wisconsin's Baldwin becomes first openly gay senator – Chicago Tribune.

I don’t expect Republicans to learn anything from any of this.

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) – Wisconsin Democratic Representative Tammy Baldwin made history on Tuesday with her election to become the first openly gay U.S. Senator, defeating former Governor Tommy Thompson in the most expensive Senate race in state history.

Not too much of a surprise in Wisconsin that a Democrat won the Senate seat.

But it was a surprise in Indiana. Well, not so much after the Republican candidate said that he though rape – if it resulted in a pregnancy – was “God’s will.” Really? God willed violence against women? Interesting take on the divine.

Republicans INSIST this is a Christian country, and then are confused why the Jewish vote is strongly Democratic. Really? You can’t see it?

It is too bad really, because democracy works better when there is at least 2 parties, but I think the Republicans are heading the way of the Whigs…