Scientology Crime Syndicate

Subject: WashPost 8-Jun -- Flap Over Wiccans Tests Military's Religious Tolerance
From: geoff.bronner@dartmouth.edu (Geoffrey V. Bronner)
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 17:01:16 -0400

An Army Controversy: Should the Witches Be Welcome? Flap Over Wiccans Tests Military's Religious Tolerance

Tuesday, June 8, 1999; Page A01

KILLEEN, Tex.čEvery full moon for the past two years, a few dozen off-duty soldiers have gathered at an open campsite at Fort Hood, America's largest military post. By day, they are privates and sergeants in the U.S. Army, training for deployment to Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo. But at these lunar assemblies they trade in their Army fatigues for hooded robes, chant to the lead of their chosen high priestess and dance around a fire well into the night.

They are America's first official Army witches, with all that double duty implies: buzz cuts and pentagram rings, moon tattoos under uniforms. One typical dog tag reads: NAME: Philip Campanaro. UNIT: USAG III Corps. RELIGIOUS PREFERENCE: Wicca.

After two years in peaceful obscurity, the Fort Hood wiccans -- their beliefs a blend of pre-Christian paganism and New Age earth worship -- suddenly find themselves in the midst of a brewing controversy. Last month, a photograph of one of their moonlit rituals made it into the local papers, leading some national Christian leaders and one congressman to begin denouncing their practices as satanic.


To date, no other group as off-beat as the wiccans has asked for approval. But the Army's Handbook for Chaplains lists a few of the myriad possibilities open to soldiers: Church of Satan, Black Judaism, Scientology, Temple of Set -- all candidates for potential approval, considered case by case.


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