November 23, 2014
A Nevada woman is going to federal court in her ongoing battle with the US Department of Veterans Affairs over attempts to honor her late husband's Wiccan faith.
Roberta Stewart of Fernley is among those joining the Americans
United for Separation of Church and State in filing the suit in Washington today over the VA's refusal to include the Wiccan symbol of faith on its official list of emblems for government headstones and markers.
Stewart's 34-year-old husband, Sergeant Patrick Stewart, was killed last September when the Nevada Army National Guard helicopter he was in was shot down in Afghanistan.
Veterans officials for the state have approved the use of the Wiccan pentacle at a national cemetery in Nevada on the basis they have jurisdiction over the burial ground.
But Stewart says she is pressing ahead with the lawsuit to make sure followers of the Wiccan faith everywhere are not discriminated against.
The VA has approved more than 30 symbols for headstones, including one for atheists, but so far none for Wiccans.
Wiccans worship the Earth and believe they must give to the community. Some consider themselves witches or pagans.