Home : News
US army base defends military witches
Thursday October 21
By Joe Carroll, in Washington 

The revelation that the army's biggest base at Fort Hood, Texas, has approved the practice of the neo-pagan Wicca religion and provided a grassy site for its lunar rituals has shocked some Americans. 

Congressman Bob Barr of Georgia has urged the Fort Hood commander, Lieut Gen Leon S. Leponte, to "Please stop this nonsense now". In his indignant letter Mr Barr asks: "What's next? Will armoured divisions be forced to travel with sacrificial animals for satanic rituals? Will Rastafarians demand the inclusion of ritualistic marijuana cigarettes in their rations?" 

But the army is defending its Wicca witches. They are proof "that people with different religious beliefs are all working together successfully," according to the base spokesman, Lieut Col Ben Santos. 

Fort Hood was the first army base to approve the practice of the Wicca religion by the Open Circle group two years ago. The base authorities approved the group's choice of high priestess and lent it an army chaplain for moral support. At least five other bases have now given similar support. 

Some alarm was caused among fundamentalist Christian churches when a Texas newspaper published photographs last March of the Wicca spring rite ceremony showing women in robes and shirtless men leaping around under a full moon. 

The Rev Jack Harvey of the Tabernacle Baptist Church, which allows no dancing, drinking, Halloween or Santa Claus, is campaigning against the Wiccans. "We need to stop them. We're not going to stop until they're gone," he told the Washington Post. "God says `Suffer not a witch to live.' We would like to see them saved, but God doesn't change his mind." 

Mr Barr tried and failed to amend a defence spending Bill to ban the practice of Wicca or any other form of witchcraft at Defence Department facilities. 

High Priestess Marcy Palmer of the Wiccans at Fort Hood is a former military policewoman who now works at the base hospital. She was raised a witch in Seattle. She says that most Wiccans worship Mother Earth and Father Sky but do not sacrifice animals. 

She negotiated the acceptance of the Open Circle with the Fort Hood chaplains. 

Wiccan soldiers are, strictly speaking, pacifists, but some have seen action in the Gulf War. One of the Open Circle founders says that they may kill in the line of duty "but with no malice in our hearts and no pleasure in the act."

Design Copyright © 2000 by Daniel S.