US Army Now Appointing Chaplains To Do Pagan Rites On Bases
   
  by Ben Fenton
www.telegraph.co.uk (5-15-99)



The United States army has recognised white witchcraft as a religion and has appointed chaplains to oversee pagan ceremonies on at least five bases.

A Pentagon spokesman said yesterday that there were believed to be at least 100 witches attending covens at Fort Hood, Texas, the army's largest base with more than 42,000 troops. So respectful has the army become of the pagan rites that security was increased at Fort Hood's Boy Scout camp, where covens are held.

The move is to deter members of Christian groups from intimidating the group. The pagans, called Wiccans, are accorded the same privileges as practitioners of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. They are encouraged to have their religious preference stamped on the metal dog-tags each soldier wears.

Lt Col Donald Troyer, the Seventh Day Adventist army chaplain who has been given responsibility for Fort Hood's coven, admitted that he was not overjoyed with his job because fellow Christian pastors disapproved and had been "cool" towards him. He said: "It's such a volatile subject. It just sparks a fury."

The Pentagon says it has received several requests for a posting to Fort Hood because it has such a large pagan congregation. A spokesman said yesterday: "We are obliged by the Constitution to respect and make provisions for the religious needs of members of the military and not to pass judgments on their beliefs.

The Covenant of the Goddess, which claims to represent most American Wiccans from its base in Berkeley, California, says there are about 50,000 followers of the faith in America. They celebrate earth-spirits such as the "great goddess Freya" and on their altars give blessings to water, bread and salt, the three essentials of life, while the congregation holds hands in a circle around a large bonfire.

Their main festivals are at the vernal and autumnal equinox and at midsummer. However, sacrifices, either human or animal, are not tolerated. One Wiccan said: "It is not something we do."

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Reposted from Sightings with Permission



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