[ExI] US "Air Force recognizes several distinct forms of neo-paganism"

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Mon Feb 1 23:47:10 UTC 2010


* Witches, Druids and pagans rejoice! The Air Force Academy in Colorado 
is about to recognize its first Wiccan prayer circle, a Stonehenge on 
the Rockies that will serve as an outdoor place of worship for the 
academy's neo-pagans.*

Wiccan cadets and officers on the Colorado Springs base have been 
convening for over a decade, but the school will officially dedicate a 
newly built circle of stones on about March 10, putting the outdoor 
sanctuary on an equal footing with the Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and 
Buddhist chapels on the base.

"When I first arrived here, Earth-centered cadets didn't have anywhere 
to call home," said Sgt. Robert Longcrier, the lay leader of the 
neo-pagan groups on base.

"Now, they meet every Monday night, they get to go on retreats, and they 
have a stone circle."

Academy officials had no tally of the number of Wiccan cadets at the 
school of 4,500, but said they had been angling to set up a proper space 
since the academic year began.

"That's one of the newer groups," said John Van Winkle, a spokesman for 
the academy. "They've had a worship circle on base for some time and 
we're looking to get them an official one."

The Air Force recognizes several distinct forms of neo-paganism, 
including Dianic Wicca, Seax Wicca, Gardnerian Wicca, shamanism and 
Druidism, according to Pagan groups that track the information.

It isn't nearly as comprehensive when it comes to sects within other 
religions. The academy still does not recognize, for instance, the 
massive gulfs between Catholics with guilt problems and those without; 
or the distinct practices of Jews who keep kosher, those who eat bacon, 
and those secretly wish they could.

Since a 2004 survey of cadets on the base revealed dozens of instances 
of harassment and intolerance, superintendent Michael Gould has made 
religious tolerance a priority.

Yet Van Winkle, the academy spokesman, said he could not confirm whether 
the school's superintendent or senior staff would attend the dedication 

"(We) haven't gotten that far yet: First we have to get a date, and then 
once we get a date for the dedication ceremony we'll see who's going to 
be available for it," he told FoxNews.com.

"Once we get a date that's going to be the real driving force for who's 
going to attend."

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