This past week I posted several short articles on Examiner.com about the issue of Pagans in the military (check them out here). After the shooting at Fort Hood early this month there has been some question about what the official religious affiliations of some of the service men and women may be, especially given that one theory for the Hasan’s shooting rampage was that it could have been motivated by stress related to being in the US military and being a Muslim. As it turns out the military is stating that he had not officially made an affiliation on his record, but what about the thousands of other US military personnel that have?
Wiccan and Pagan active duty service personnel have always been a concern to the Pagan community, especially since the issues that arose with the Fort Hood Wiccans that faced great publicity around 1999 when the news got out that they were allowed to hold rituals and educational meetings openly on base. We’re all familiar with US Rep. Bob Barr’s attempt to ban Wiccan and Pagan practice from the military and then President George W. Bush’s statements on ABC News about how he didn’t feel Witchcraft was a religion and that the military needed to “rethink” this decision. And while Barr didn’t get anywhere with him bigoted attempts are religious discrimination and Bush never apologized for his statements publicly (though form letters of apology from his office were mailed to those that wrote in complaining about his comments), it still leaves us to wonder, in 2009 what are the numbers of admitted Pagan active duty military?
Anderson Cooper’s blog for “Anderson Cooper 360” posted a short piece about the issue of religion in the military on Nov. 12th and included an image of a US Department of Defense document that shows the following numbers which include Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force active duty personnel:
- Wiccans: 2,452
- Magick and Spiritualist: 44
- New Age Churches: 5
I found a few other things interesting:
- Baha’i: 33
- Roman Catholic: 284,789
- Christian (no denomination preference): 271,501
- Atheist: 7,069
- No Religious Preference: 283,671
- Unclassified Religion: 8,025
- Unknown: 87,657
Also interesting was that I didn’t see Satanists represented at all. I’m guessing they fall in the “unclassified” section to avoid having “Satanists” listed on their chart. It’s also interesting how many different Christian churches are represented in this chart too. All very interesting.