Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The Worldnutdaily has an article up entitled Wiccans Meeting on Air Force Base. Now this would hardly seem to be newsworthy. There are over a million people in the US military, any logical person would assume that at least a small percentage of them are Wiccan or belong to any number of other smaller minority religions. One would also think that given the Constitutional guarantee of free exercise of religion, they might even have the right to meet together to practice their religion just as every other religious faith does. But for some prominent religious right groups, well, that kind of logical thinking just isn’t gonna get it done.

Some might remember the controversy over Wiccans in the military in 1999. After the Washington Post reported that a Wiccan group had gotten approval from the military to hold services on the base, like other religions are allowed to do, all hell broke loose among the righteous. After seeing a report on this on the O’Reilly Factor (one demagogue following another),Georgia Congressman Bob Barr tried to insert an amendment to a defense authorization bill to ban all such services from military bases. In the process, he made quite a spectacular ass of himself.

Most amusing was his argument that if the military allows such services to take place, they are “sanctioning, if not supporting the practice of witchcraft as a ‘religion’ by soldiers on military bases” and he demanded an end to “taxpayer-funded witchcraft on American Military Bases.” Now let’s follow the logic here. By merely allowing Wiccans to practice their religion on base, the government is sanctioning and supporting that religion. Yet every military base has numerous Protestant, Catholic and Jewish clergymen on staff and paid for by taxpayer money and he certainly wouldn’t admit that that meant the government was sanctioning and supporting Christianity or Judaism.

Soon after Barr’s ridiculous public spectacle, a group of 13 religious right organizations joined together to urge a public boycott of the military. Yes, they actually said that no Christians should join the military until they barred Wiccans from practicing their religion. One of the organizations urging this boycott called themselves the Religious Freedom Coalition; yet another irony meter goes up in smoke. The leader of the boycott drive was none other than Paul Weyrich. He may not be a well known name like Jerry Falwell or James Dobson, but there is no one more powerful in the religious right than Weyrich. He sits on the boards of most of the major foundations and is very well connected to the highest levels of government. But he really did give up the whole gig when he said:

“The official approval of satanism and witchcraft by the Army is a direct assault on the Christian faith that generations of American soldiers have fought and died for,” Paul Weyrich added. “If the Army wants witches and satanists in its ranks, then it can do it without Christians in those ranks. It’s time for the Christians in this country to put a stop to this kind of nonsense. A Christian recruiting strike will compel the Army to think seriously about what it is doing.”

That’s quite a stunning admission, isn’t it? Weyrich really does think that God and country are one and the same. Our soldiers have died in service to their country, not for the “Christian faith”, and a great many of those soldiers who died weren’t Christians at all. It’s this kind of monumentally stupid thinking, combined with their zealous desire to impose their will on anyone of a different religious view, that motivates me to oppose the religious right as fiercely as I do.

Perhaps the most ironic aspect of the whole thing is that these are the first people to wrap themselves in the flag and pat themselves on the back for their patriotism. Yet they urge their followers to refuse to join the military solely because other religions get to join up and practice their faith too? Not only are they willing to shred the first amendment to deny others the same rights they demand for themselves, they’re willing to weaken our national defense if the military doesn’t give in to their demands for religious purity. I can scarcely imagine anything less patriotic than that.

Now fast forward 5 years. The Worldnutdaily is still complaining about the evils of religious freedom for anyone other than themselves, and the president of the American Family Association says he isn’t too concerned about the Wiccans anymore, but thinks that Muslims should be barred from the military:

Wildmon noted that he has a much bigger problem with Muslims in the military.

“They ought to say no Muslims in the American military,” he told WND. “Wicca doesn’t teach, as far as I know, what Islam teaches about killing the infidel. Muslims in the American military are a much greater danger to the institution than is Wicca.”

I’ve got a better idea. How about you can’t serve in the military unless you actually support the first amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom? After all, soldiers do swear an oath to defend the nation and the Constitution is the basis for our entire system. If you don’t support that, not just for yourself but for others, you have no business wearing that uniform. The military itself, at least, isn’t behaving as stupidly as the moral majority crowd is. Said the spokesman for the Air Force base:

“We take pride in providing the most diverse chapel program in the Air Force, serving more faith groups than any other Air Force installation. In fact, approximately 18 different religious groups are represented on Lackland, and 38 worship services are provided any given weekend. Our base chaplains represent Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish and Muslim faith communities. We try to ensure all faith traditions are treated fairly and equally.”

Thomas Jefferson would be proud. Paul Weyrich and his traveling band of self-righteous hypocrites should be ashamed.


  1. #1 Enigma
    January 26, 2005

    Holy shit…utterly insane. Not to mention disgusting in a to-hell-with-our-constitution sort of way. I’m a cadet in the US Air Force, myself. Also an agnostic with atheistic tendencies. I’ve come to terms with the fact that my commander-in-chief thinks that not only am I not patriotic, but I also shouldn’t be a citizen. Who cares, he’s mostly a silly-villian any way (there’s a story behind that term, lemme know if you wanna hear it…) But to say that those who differ in their religious views should be barred from serving in the military? Hell, all fundamentalists should be barred, christian, muslim, jewish, etc. But those who approach religion like a semi-sane individual? Of course not. Damn theocrats. In closing, is the “Oath of Comissioning” which each cadet must take, upon becoming an officer. Enlisted personell take one that is very similar.

    I, [full name], having been appointed a [rank] in the United States Air Force, do solemnly swear/affirm that I will support and defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegience to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter, [so help me god].

    There’s a reason those theocrats aren’t in the military…they can’t take that oath. And any person like them who is, has no honor whatsoever. Disgusting…utterly disgusting.

  2. #2 Ed Brayton
    January 26, 2005

    I’ve come to terms with the fact that my commander-in-chief thinks that not only am I not patriotic, but I also shouldn’t be a citizen.

    Just for the record, that was something that Bush 41 said, but Bush 43 said something quite different in his interview with the Washington Times a few weeks ago:

    “I think people attack me because they are fearful that I will then say that you’re not equally as patriotic if you’re not a religious person,” Mr. Bush said. “I’ve never said that. I’ve never acted like that.

    That’s obviously much better than what his father said. I frankly doubt that his father really meant it when he said it, but it was an incredibly stupid thing to say.

    Thank you for posting the oath. I assumed that it must include defending the Constitution, as the Presidential oath does.

  3. #3 eric collier
    January 27, 2005

    No one detests the Worldnet or the medeival mindset behind it more than I–but having actually read the article in question, I think it is to be commended for the surprisingly moderate, almost tolerant tone of the piece. No? Also, let us commend those people in the military, including the Chaplain Corps, who consent with such eqanimity to the use of base facilities to the Wiccans. And may Bob Barr and Paul Weyrich fry in some Wiccan hell.

  4. #4 Bill Ware
    January 27, 2005


    Wiccans have no concept of hell. So let those who believe in such things fry in the hell that they themselves have incantated. B

  5. #5 Ed Brayton
    January 27, 2005

    No one detests the Worldnet or the medeival mindset behind it more than I–but having actually read the article in question, I think it is to be commended for the surprisingly moderate, almost tolerant tone of the piece. No?

    Not really. Though one person quoted in the article said he didn’t think they could stop the Wiccans from practicing their religion or keep them out of the military (though I’m sure he wishes they could), he also went even further than the groups who wanted to keep out the Wiccans and said that we should keep out the Muslims too. There is also more than that. At the time of the controversy over the Wiccans on military bases, the Worldnutdaily did come out against allowing them their freedom. In fact, they threw quite a fit over it. They printed a “worldnetdaily exclusive commentary” (which means no one else would publish something so insipid) that declared that allowing Wiccans to practice their religion in the military was “destroying our last vestige of sanity”. I’m gonna write more about that article shortly.

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