A few additional comments before I move on to the next segment of perspectives. "Pacifism" has never been solely a function of one's religious beliefs. Quakers are generally seen as pacifists. Yet Richard Nixon was a B-24 pilot in World War II. The Catholic and Orthodox Churches, and Protestant Churches as well, have long histories of either raising armies or supporting armies in the advancement of their missionary or economic interests or both. As recently as World War II, Catholic priests in the Low Countries (the Netherlands and Belgium) encouraged their young parishioners to join the German Wehrmacht to fight the godless Communist hordes in the East. Multiple thousands did. When those few that were fortunate enough to return home at all did so, they were regarded as either traitors or sympathizers and treated as such. Yet, two prominent figures during the violent anti-war movement of the '60s were Catholic priests.
Wicca and the Military: Perspective of Two Pagans
While many neo-pagan groups are now rallying to the support of Constitutional rights for free expression of religion in the military, such was not always the case. Indeed, many neo-pagan leaders and groups have been openly hostile to military members claiming to be Wiccan or pagan. I will never forget the expression on the face of one particular "leader" at a gathering when he learned that I was an Army officer. He was quite aghast and told me that it was absolutely impossible to be a pagan and a soldier. I pointed out that I did not believe that the ancient Celts, Vikings or Roman Legions were Christian soldiers. Nevertheless, I have caught far more grief from pagans over the years for being a soldier than I ever caught from the Army for being a Wiccan.
Often overlooked is the fact that while the neo-pagan movements were in their infancy in the United States, many neo-pagan (more properly, simply "pagan") individuals were humping M-60s, flying F-105s or manning 50 caliber machine guns on river patrol boats in Vietnam. The lines between the violent anti-war movement and the peaceful and legitimate opposition to the war were often blurred. Many of the self-anointed leaders of the various and fledgling neo-pagan movements were ardent supporters of the former category; a few belonged to the latter. Many in the first category participated in, or even instigated violent confrontations with the "establishment." A few in the second category went to jail in civil disobedience by refusing conscription. Others, not having the intestinal fortitude for either camp, went to Canada and other countries to distance themselves from the issue altogether. What most of them had in common was a negative perception of the military. Their primary concern with the military was devising ways to stay out of it. Many neo-pagan leaders remain largely anti-military to this day, either in vocal opposition or passive resistance. This is most probably a carry over from their anti-Vietnam war days. The younger generation of pagans, thankfully, does not seem to be quite so bigoted.
To illustrate this point, I offer an essay by P.E.I. Bonewits written in 1988, the 1996 revision of which was referenced by Maginnis, albeit out of context, in Family Research Council article cited above. To his credit, Bonewits makes no claim of a scholarly paper and was honest enough to own his personal opinions rather than try to attribute them to a "research" effort. Nevertheless, he is guilty of the same type of stereotypical misconceptions and initial attribution errors that permeated the Maginiss article. Bonewits issued some half-hearted disclaimers, and stated that the opinions were his own. Then he proceeded to pontificate to the group he led at the time. The original article was far more caustic than the 1996 revision. In the interest of fairness, I will treat the Bonewits article in the same manner as I did the Maginess article. I will use the 1988 original, complete with errors of spelling and syntax. Since much of the essay is prima fascia absurdity, I will address only blatantly misleading points as commentary.
In the most recent round of controversy, the first assault came from the Religious Right and the politicians that it either owned outright or controlled through campaign financing. These folks are under the misguided impression that the United States is a theocracy, not a representative republic. It was not long before the political arms of the various religious organizations began attacking both Wiccans in the military, and the military itself for allowing the practice. Most of the editorial journalism could be summarily dismissed as unfounded and ludicrous. There was one article, however, that could not be ignored. The piece was written by a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, which would have appeared to give it some credibility to those not familiar with either the Army or accommodation policies of distinctive faith groups within the military services. The article was also presented as a scholarly expose and again appearing to lend credibility to it by those not familiar with the Wiccan religion or standard research methodology. I sent my response to this article, along with a personal communication, to the Executive Director of the Department of Defense Armed Forces Chaplains Board.
QUOTED TEXT AND COMMENTARY BEGINS
*From: THE DRUIDS PROGRESS, Report #5. The DRUIDS PROGRESS is published seminannually (Gods Willing) and is sent primarily to the subscribing members of ADF. For Further information write: ADF, PO Box 1022, Nyack, NY USA 10960-1022 (include a SASE). All Items acredited to "the Archdruid" have been written by and are (C) 1988 by P.E.I. Bonewits. All items created by other parties are (C) 1988 by them. All opinions expressed, save those specifically attributed to the Board of Trustees, are the opnions of the individuals expressing them and are Not official ADF policy. Reprint Procedure: Neopagan, Druidic, Midievalist and all cultural publications may reprint any material written by P.E.I. Bonewits, but his copyright notice must appear in full. If more than 250 words are excerpeted, one cent per word should be donated to ADF.
WARRIORS AND SOLDIERS AND COPS — OH MY!
By the Archdruid
As time goes by, and A.D.F. continues to grow, we are attracting people from many different occupations - white collar, blue and pink collar, and now khaki collars as well. We have several law enforcement officers, both public and private ("rent-a-cops"), as well as several members in the U.S. military. Some of these have written to us praising the fact that ADF does not seem to be as "anti-warrior" as most Neo-Pagan groups. Some even want to set up a "military grove" to be a sort of free-floating resource for ADF members in the armed forces. One member held a workshop for Neopagans in the military at the ADF Harpers' Hall pavilion during a Neopagan Festival in 1987. Another wants to pursue the possibility of having officially recognized Druid chaplains in the armed services. Yet another has dreams of resurrecting a Mithraic cult within ADF. It's obviously gotten to be time to deal with some of the issues that most Neopagan groups have been ignoring - specifically those of violence, self-defense, and the ethics of being a cop or a soldier in modern times.
Commentary: In contrast to the ADF, most Traditional Craft Wicca (TCW) groups provide broad-based ethical guidelines, and acknowledge the responsibility of the individual for refining his or her own ethical and moral codes. Otherwise, we would be no better than mainstream religions where the ethics and morality are immutable and dictated by the clergy. Non-mainstream religions and groups should not meddle with legislating morality and ethics. As an aside, most TCW groups do not classify themselves as "neo-pagan." "Neo" means new, and we do not regard ourselves as a "new religion." We did not base our religious practices on a science fiction fantasy, or an innovation of established religious structures. We look to the scant surviving evidence of tribal European spirituality and attempt to bring it to relevance in the contemporary world. One aspect of that is personal responsibility for one's own actions. Therefore the Wiccan soldier or police officer must deal with moral and ethical issues as a matter of reconciling his or her own conscience. We cannot look to a Pope, Prophet, Pastor, Swami or Archdruid to define acceptable ethical conduct.
Insofar as ADF is going to have official doctrines (note that I did NOT say "dogmas") about these issues; ones that you, as members, can take into a court of law, this essay is a first attempt at articulating the arguments upon which I have based my current opinions. Naturally, I expect some of you to disagree strongly (but I hope not violently!) with my conclusions, and you are encouraged to send in zines for future issues of D.P. This essay has not been easy to write. Our single most generous supporting member happens to be in the military and has given a great deal of thought to these issues, obviously coming to very different conclusions than I have. I hope he'll write a reply for the next issue. I'm also going to send a copy of this to the folks who publish the Pagan Military Network newsletter for their feedback. Eventually we can all work out a consensus that most of us (and the planet) can live with.
Comment: As alluded to above, it is not a consensual issue; it is an individual issue. As a practical matter, anytime a religion assumes a formal organization, dogma (which is merely a synonym for "doctrine") will, of necessity, follow. It is simply a matter of how strictly or how liberally the organizing group chooses to impose it.
Like many members of the Neopagan community, I grew up as part of the 60's counterculture. Our primary interactions with law enforcement officers and soldiers were generally of the negative sort. We saw them as the upholders of a corrupt status quo, mouthing platitudes about freedom and democracy while they beat in our heads or napalmed little children.
Comment: Indeed, throwing rocks at police officers and torching ROTC buildings would tend to cause one to have negative interactions with the police and military. The events at the World Trade Organization in Seattle tend to suggest that we still cannot differentiate between civil disobedience and civil disturbance — between exercising our own rights of free expression and denying others their rights to the same. Often the ones who scream most loudly for the arrest of pro-lifers blocking access to abortion clinics are the same ones who scream most loudly when they are arrested for blocking access to whatever their own current crusade happens to be. Whatever the cause, left, right or in the middle, there is a big difference between legitimate and constructive advocacy and violent and destructive activism.
Yet, most of us grew up thrilling to the adventures of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Robin Hood and his Merry Men, and other noble, idealistic warriors. In later years, some of us studied the martial arts, and watched television shows such as "Kung Fu", where the emphasis was on the lone warrior who is a master of him/herself first, and of others only incidentally. All of these experiences gave us conflicting ideas about the nature and role of violence in our lives. Those of our generation who suffered in Vietnam or in the ghettos are musch less idealistic than those of us who have been on the dojo floor or the medievalist tournament field.
Comment: While most of us grew up exposed to the same pop culture, obviously most of us interpreted and internalized those experiences quite differently. Conflicting ideas about the nature of anything, violence, love, war, are all part of the human condition. Also part of the human condition is the necessity to resolve the paradoxes on a meaningful and personal level.
As we create a religion for the future, we must have a coherent body of polytheological opinions about violence. These opinions must reflect our ideals, while being fully informed about historical realities, if we hope to change the world enough so that future history will not simply be a bloody repetition of the past. The awareness of this essential conflict between practical survival needs and ethical ideals is not new. Our Indo-European ancestors (like most other peoples of the past) spent a lot of time thinking about it, and preserved their wisdom in their myths, sagas, and folktales. So before I begin to express my own conclusions about the various issues involved, I'd like to quote from Jaan Puhvel's excellent book on Indo-European myth and epis [sic], Comparative Mythology (John Hopkins Univ. Press, 1987). After repeated tellings of the standard Indo-European warrior myth as it appears in the different cultures, he has this to say (in the chapter on "God and Warrior") about it:
Basic to that [standard Indo-European Warrior] myth is a profound anomic [lawlessness, social alienation] of the human and societal condition, rooted in the use and abuse of power. Order, securitry [sic], peace - positive conditions all - tend to depend for their preservation on the readiness of something that is inherently destructive, such as "security forces" or a military machine with the attendant mentality. If boosters of law enforcement like to describe their favorite agents of public order as a thin phalanx protecting civilization from anarchy, there is an even thinner line seperating [sic] champion from beserk, police action from police riot. Those trained as agents of aggresion [sic] and represion [sic] may experience difficulty functioning as normal human beings under great stress, or conversely when the pressure is off. Such abnormality also induces clannishness vis-a-vis the general society, "fraternal orders", "Protective" associations, gangsm [sic] juntas, and other forms of structured apartness [sic].
This kind of perennial tension is reflected in the ancient myths. Warlike exaltation, martial ecstasy where fury gets out of hand, is displayed by the Third Horatius, by Cuchulainn by the berserkir. The Maruts, sodalas, fiana, or einherjar constituted bands with their own inner structure and interctional [sic] dynamics, with a collective svadha or "ethos" (the two cognates meaning etymologically 'self-law, autonomy') that was only capriciously at the call of a commanding figure such as Indra, Publicola, Finn or Odin. The warlord himself could be equally self-willed individualist and from inspired and inspiring leader shade over into a lone-wolf kind of martial toiler (Indra led the Maruts, and yet he was also eka- 'one, alone, unique', acted yathavasam 'as he chose' and had a svadah of his own). The warrior thus had an ambivalant role as a single champion or part of a self-centered corps or coterie, both a society's external defender and its potential internal menace.
After discussing the myths about warrior kings and warrior gods, Puhvel devotes the rest of the chapter to the stories about mythic heroes, of the sort that many NeoPagans who perceive themselves to be warriors pattern themselves after. Here's what he has to say (with my comments in the square brackets):
A Third type was the warrior who was not divine but a saga hero manipulated by deity, not a king but merely in royal service. This is the kind most marked by a tense relationship to the environment where he operated, to his divine and human patrons and his social constituency at large. He had no agglomeration of transfunctional attributes to lose [as the warrior kings and warior [sic] gods did], but he nevertheless managed to offend (or was perceived as offending) all segments of the social order by a structured set of misdeeds. With his flawed willfullness (or perhaps his "programmed", predestined, predictable nature) he comprimised [sic] his career by nadir episodes that involved impious/unjust/sacrilegious [sic], cowardly/under handed/unwarriorlike, and covetous/venal/adulterous acts respectively [the 'three sins' against the three Indo-European social functions of legal and spiritual rulership, courasgeous [sic] defense of the community, and prosperity and fertility]... The varieties described are found in epic, saga and folklore, from the fells of Scandinavia to the jungles of India, from the Bay of Bengalk via the Gulf of Argos and the Tiber to Galaway Bay. These kinds are not extinct - they were spotted not long ago on both the Mekong and the Potomac [and in Central America, Afghanistan, Africa, Moscow, etc].
As I mentioned in D.P.#1, "one of the primary tasks of the clergy has always been to ride herd on the warriors...Since the primary threat to life on this planet now comes from out-of-control warriors, it's time we started taking that duty seriously again. "We can no longer ignore the issues involved. Here, in no particular order, are some of my thoughts:
Comment: A far more relevant question to me is: Who rides herd on the Clergy? Whenever the clergy (no matter how they address their God) assumes temporal powers (as in "riding herd on the warriors"), civil religion then assumes absolute rule, and rule of law is buried under volumes of "holy dogma." We have seen the treacherous and destructive results of such systems through out recorded history.
Despite my loose use of the former term in D.P.#1, I perceive important distinctions between "warriors" and "soldiers," with the former word having positive meanings for me and the later negative ones. In order to define my terms clearly, I will now oversimplify:
A "warrior" is a person who has been trained to use violence both effectively and selectively, but who refrains from doing so except when she/he perceives a genuine danger to her/himself or to others in the community whom she/he deems worthy of protection. She or he strives to use exactly the minimum amount of violence (if any) of whatever sort is necessary to defeat the danger, and is willing to risk her/his life in the process. A warrior prefers to see the face of his/her enemy, and takes personal responsibility for the ethics of his/her behavior. While she/he may enjoy her/his occupation and may experience and appreciate the thrill of battle, she/he does not enjoy or disregard the emotional and moral effects of killing. Warriors will compete with each other, not just to hone their combat skills, but to emphasize their individual identities. Courage, honor, integrity, and self-awareness are the ideals I associate with this image of the warrior.
A "soldier", on the other hand, I perceive as a hired killer, whose primary task is not the defense of his/her community, although that claim is usually made, but rather the defense of that community's political, social, religious, and economic rulers. A soldier enjoys being violent, especially when she/he has superior odds, and often becomes addicted to the battle frenzy (berserkirgang) experience --many to the point of receiving sexual satisfaction from the destruction they cause. He or she will kill any man, woman, or child that he/she is ordered to kill, simply because he/she was told to do so (as with the Russian airmen who shot down K.A.L. flight 007, or the American seamen who blew up that Iranian airliner). A soldier is perfectly willing to kill at a distance, without ever seeing the faces of his/her victims, and even when she/he sees them up close does not consider them to be "real" human beings (but "huns" or "Japs", or "Gooks", or "Micks", etc). A soldier considers rape and plunder to be a natural right in time of war, even if the war is against citizens of his/her own country. Perhaps most importantly for the purposes of this essay, a soldier takes NO RESPONSIBILITY for the ethics of his/her actions, since she/he is "only following orders".
Comment: Here again we have a problem with labels and quite different interpretations. Having been both, I am in a position to distinguish between "soldier" and "warrior;" Mr. Bonewits, having been neither, is not. Let me further oversimplify them by placing them in the proper context: "war" is a deliberate and purposeful organized conflict designed to perpetuate a religious, economic, political or social or criminal agendaÑit is always ugly and always deadly. It can be moral or immoral depending on perspective, but it can never be "holy" or "spiritual." A warrior goes looking for a fight; a soldier fights when he has to. To reiterate my comments to LTC (ret) Maginnis above, I have never found anything holy or spiritual about conflict of any sort. Perhaps it is indeed time to find an analogy other than "warrior" to use when discussing emotional and spiritual distress.
To transform a person from a civilian into a soldier, its generally necessary to extinguish her/his individuality and integrity, and to replace them as much as possible with group identity and unthinking, machinelike obedience. (Robert Anton Wilson has an excellent, and somewhat terrifying analysis of military basic training as a classic "brainwashing" process in 'Prometheus Rising'.) This obedience to authority, "winning", and emotional insensitivity to the impact of his/her behavior on the lives of others, are the ideals of the soldier. Of course, most generals and admirals will tell the general public (and their soldiers whenever the public happens to be listening) that the warrior ideals are the ones that soldiers do and should have, but this publically [sic] presentable official message is easily drowned out by the other messages delivered during basic training.
Comment: Discipline, duty, honor, and esprit d' corps are, and always have been, the intangibles necessary in the transformation from citizen to soldier. "Brainwashing" perhaps, but it does not strip one of personal dignity, nor does it turn a human being into a mindless android. Basic military training is, of sorts, an initiatory experience. Having never experienced this initiation, Mr. Bonewits' observations on the subject are purely conjecture. On the integrity issue, I have known a number of conscientious objectors who out of sense of duty to their country, submitted to conscription, but out of their personal beliefs and integrity, refused to bear arms. Many of them volunteered to serve as combat medics. More than a few died on battlefields trying to save the lives of wounded soldiers.
Now obviously this is a slanted, dualistic view, one that comes from growing up reading about Nazi war crimminals, seeing films of soldiers dropping napalm on small children, studying the history of the European, American and Russian Empires, going to High school near a major military base, etc. and comparing the data gained from these sources to the idealistic legends mentioned earlier.
But in order to avoid monotheistic dualism here, lets create a value spectrum with the above defined "warrior" on one end, and the "soldier" on the other. Most modern police officers, security guards, and members of the armed forces will fit somewhere along the line between the two extremes. About the only ones who will come close to being real warriors will be those individuals who have dedicated their lives to the Martial arts, and a few political and social activists.
Comment: actually, "monotheistic dualism" is a contradiction in terms. "Mono" by definition, is a unified whole of one. "Dualism" by definition, is two separate and distinct entities or quantities. Most Wiccans are, in the final analysis, "monotheistic" in that they regard the Divine as "The All" or "The One" with the Gods and Goddesses representing various aspects of the Divine Whole. The concepts of "absolute good" and "absolute evil" are relatively recent theological innovations, circa Zorathustra. What Mr. Bonewits is attempting to describe is a polarity of human behaviors in a given circumstance. While many of us would disagree with the labels that he puts on either end of his "spectrum," most of us would agree with the principle. Most Wiccans have a humanistic orientation and regard the great and almost unlimited capability of the individual. It inheres within each of us to be either a Mother Theresa or an Adolph Hitler. The choice is ours, and we make that choice individually through the way we develop our lives, and the way we interact with our concept of the Divine, nature, and other human beings.
(Since some people like to play games with the phrase "martial arts," saying that anything having to do with the Roman god Mars should be counted, including soldiering and C.I.A. assasinations, let me emphasize that when I say "martial arts," I'm refering to Tai Chi, Akido, Karate, Kung Fu, etc as well as similar practices from non-oriental sources, when followed as a philosophy and a way of life.)
Perhaps we need two more axes of polarity here, a vertical one for degree of sanity or insanity, and another going off at right angles to the first two, for ethicality and unethicality [sic] of character. Warriors going beserk or cops rioting against a group of protestors would go near the insane end of the sainty [sic]-insanity scale, while a C.I.A. Hitman [sic] or the members of a S.W.A.T. team trying to eliminate a sniper might belong near the sane end. Of course, that hit-man [sic]would probably belong on the Wrong side of the ethical-unethical spectrum (depending on his/her target?), as would a Mafia hit-man, Nazi Stormtrooper, or a Russian airman dropping napalm on children in Afghanistan. As American Neopagans, we might decide that the soldiers who fought in the American Revolutionary War were ethical to do so (our English members might disagree) or those in the U.S. Cavalry during the "Indian Wars" (unless you're part or all Native American, or have studied the history carefully, in which case those same soldiers become unethical), etc.
Many of these judgements are difficult to make, especially if you belong to a multivalued [sic], pluralistic religion such as Neopaganism. But it should be clear that, despite the conflicting ideals discussed earlier, not all warriors are ethical and sane, and not all soldiers are unethical and insane. Nonetheless, I will make the argument, for the rest of this essay, that in our time it is far more difficult for a soldier to remain both ethical and sane from a Neopagan point of view than it is for a warrior to do so (law enforcement officers wind up in the middle - as usual).
Let's get down to some ethical/spiritual nitty-gritty:
IT IS WRONG, under any and all circumstances, to drop napalm on kids, or to machine-gun women with babies, or to launch a missile towards a building full of elderly people.
IT IS WRONG to kill a total stranger, simply because his/her politicians disagree with yours as to the best way the two of you should be swindled.
IT IS WRONG, to kill, maim, and torture people simply in order to maintain the wealth and power of multinational corporations, or of the central party apparatus, or of the leader's [sic] of one's religion.
IT IS WRONG to defoliate thousands of acres of forests or jungles, or to poison rivers and wells, or to disseminate new diseases.
IT IS WRONG to help dictators to more effctively [sic] torture, rape, and enslave their own citizens (or those of neighboring countries), no matter what benefits our own political and economic masters might gain.
IT IS WRONG FOR ANY REASON THAT A HUMAN IS CAPABLE OF INVENTING, to create [sic], maintain or use weapons that can kill every man, woman, child, plant and animal on Earth, raping our Mother to death with nuclear fire. Our planet can survive a hundred or even a thousand years of domination by any "evil empire". It won't survive World War Three. To assist in any way, shape or form in killing the entire biosphere (at this point the only one we know exists) is the ultimate blasphemy which a worshipper of Mother Earth could commit. I could not live with myself if I did not know, on a gut-level basis, that these things are Wrong. All the metaphysical and theological and political excuses in the world cannot change these crimes into acts of virture [sic]or herosim [sic].
Yet each of them is an action that any member of most modern army, navy or air forces (especially those of the "superpowers" - what they used to call empires) can expect to be ordered to commit, sooner or later. The excuses will be grandiose, the justifications noble, and the instructions quite clear: "Do as you're told - That's an order!"
Comment: First off, Mr. Bonewits takes quite an absolutist stance on his skewed personal opinions. Secondly, the days of "Chivalrous Warfare" are long since past, if they ever existed at all beyond a romantic myth. In warfare, there will be non-combatant casualties; current US tactical doctrine attempts to minimize the risk as much as possible. These statements reflect Mr. Bonewits' misconceived stereotypes and lack of understanding of the US military. Again, I will point out that no US service member is obliged to obey an unlawful order. Again, the irony: Mr. Bonewits and his camp still regard the US military as "baby killers" and the radical religious right regards Wiccans in the military as "baby eaters."
Comment: Bonewits blatantly fails to acknowledge (perhaps he isn't even aware) that the internet, his primary tool for promoting the organization (of which he is the "emeritus"), himself, his books, and other his capitalistic ventures, was a direct result of the United States Army's research and development.
Each and every one of these actions is one that I expect a Neopagan (Or a sane, ethical warrior of any other faith) to refuse to perform, even at the risk of court-martial and execution (that's easy for me to say - all I have to worry about is execution, legally or illegally for the 'treasons' of voicing these opinions). Thus, I believe that Neopagans, whether Wiccans, Druids or members of any other variety of Neopaganism, have no place in a modern superpower's military. (The Coast Guard or a state militia might be an exception to this basic principle, except when they are performing functions unconnected to actually defending the lives of the populance [sic], but one would have to evaluate each such organization individually. I know that the National Guard in California, for example, actually spends most of its time fighting forest fires, but I remember when it was used against antiwar demonstrators back in the 60's. The kids who shot the kids at Kent State were members of the Ohio National Guard. And lately the Coast Guard has been spending most of its time busting drug smugglers which gets us into the topic of Neopagans and law enforcement, to be discussed later in this essay).
Comment: Mr. Bonewits and Congressman Barr (R, Georgia) and their lemmings are in total agreement, albeit for different reasons, on the point that Wiccans (and other pagans) have no place in the US military. Both employed flawed logic. If the touted "fundamentalist boycott" would have had the desired effect, then only pagans and other "godless sinners" would fill the ranks of the military forces, thus placing the religious right in a rather precarious position. If only "fundamentalists" were in the military, then we would have a "religious Army," which I find to be a very scary situation.
As for those Neopagans who are currently in the military, and who are sensibly unwilling to risk death by firing squad, I believe that you should attempt to get out, by any comparitively [sic] ethical means necessary, as soon as you can. If escaping really is impossible (and not just damned inconvient [sic]), you should try to get transferred to units where your activities will be only remotely connected (they can never be completely unconnected) to those of others actually committing the crimes of the sort mentioned.
Comment: Mr. Bonewits wrote this article in 1988, almost a decade and a half after the US military became a totally volunteer force. If they share Mr. Bonewits' views, neo-pagans (or Catholics or Protestants or Jews) should not be currently serving in the military to begin with.
The question of whether or not we should have Druid or other Neopagan chaplains for Neopagans who choose to join or remain in the military is a messy one. If, as I believe, you're not supposed to be there in the first place, what role does a chaplain have other than to betray his/her faith by telling you it's OK? Would the military allow a chaplain who went around persuading folks to quit? The suggestion that Neopagans, whether chaplains or laity, should be in the military in order to enlighten the armed forces from within is absurd - as soon as you got close to actually changing people's minds, you'd be arrested for "subversion." A discussion of Neopagan chaplains is quite moot, however. The U.S. military in 1987 commissioned it's [sic] first non-Judeo-Christian chaplain (a Buddhist!) and is in no rush to have chaplains from any other minority faiths.
Besides, military chaplains are expected to have been ordained after a period of college level training that would have prepared them for full-time, professional clergy work - and we don't have anyone like that yet and are unlikely to for several years. As for young people facing the draft, I say you should refuse to register, or emigrate elsewhere as soon as your government actually starts taking kids. If you do register, do it as a Conscientous [sic] Objector (and be prepared for a long, messy, fight).
Comment: This further demonstrates Mr. Bonewits' total lack of understanding of the Chaplains Corps and the mission of the military chaplain. The job of the chaplain is to provide spiritual support for every military member, regardless of faith or creed, under his or her pastoral care. By and large, military chaplains, from the highest command levels down to the unit chaplain, have been extremely supportive of religious pluralism. That is precisely why the standards and requirements are so high. Military chaplains must be able minister to all of their troops, not just to those of their own endorsing denomination. They must look beyond their own seminaries and become spiritual leaders in the truest sense of the word. In reality, we do not have "Catholic Chaplains" or "Methodist Chaplains;" more correctly, we have Chaplains who are Catholic and Chaplains who are Methodist. The "ordination" is hardly more than a footnote in the process. It is possible to secure a "legal ordination" from any number of mail-order sources; it is possible for an independent evangelical church to "legally ordain" an eleven year old boy who has "heard the calling." Neither case would qualify one for appointment as a military chaplain. Mr. Bonewits is wrong on the assumption that there are no qualified candidates serving in the armed forces; there are indeed many active duty Wiccans and pagans who do meet the professional qualifications. He is right on the assumption that it will be some time, if ever, before a Wiccan or pagan is appointed to a military chaplaincy. Chaplain billets are allocated on the basis of demonstrated need, that is, the higher percentage of a particular faith group, the higher the percentage of chaplains from that faith group. This is really just common sense. Wicca, and other forms of paganism, are "minority faith groups" in the military, just as they are in the general population. So it is indeed unlikely that we will have a Chaplain who is a Wiccan or a Chaplain who is a Druid any time soon. However, the Department of Defense has a policy on religious accommodation of minority faith groups by working with Distinctive Faith Group leaders from the minority religious group. That policy is taken very seriously. More often than not, it has not been a question of a Chaplain being willing to support a minority faith group--- is has been a question of finding a minority faith group willing to support the Chaplain.
I can hear the screams now! "How dare you tell us what to do!" "How can you make our ethical decisions for us!" "This isn't the Catholic Church, you know!" "Who made you the spokesperson for all Pagandom!"
Comment: Obviously if Mr. Bonewits heard the screams, which were numerous, he utterly disregarded them. His 1996 revision (almost under protest, it seems) is only marginally more conciliatory and certainly no less flattering toward the military and law enforcement agencies.
Well, nobody did. I'm the Archdruid of A.D.F. and that's about all. Nonetheless I have the same rights as anyone, polytheologian or not, to express my religious opinions. And as a "spiritual leader", I have an obligation to be truthful about my beliefs. Every other major religion in the world has doctrines about these issues. It's about time we started working ours out.
As for the Norse warrior types in our ranks, I can only say that the better (sane and ethical) old Norse heroes would have had nothing but contempt for modern military procedures (although I suppose some of the Vikings might have approved of the raping, looting and pillaging part of current jungle warfare). Mithraism was practiced by many of the Roman soldiers who exterminated the Druids in Gaul, and who massacred our priests and priestesses at the main Druid Seminary on the Isle of Angelsey, so I'm inclined to feel uncharitable towards the faith. Nonetheless, it's certainly possible that some modern Neopagan warriors may choose to follow the Mithraic path. I'm uncertain, even though it is Indo-European, whether or not it belongs in A.D.F. (I'm not planning on ecouraging [sic] thuggee either, no matter how authentic it might be).
"But what about national defense?" I hear some of you asking. Well, if the Chinese come swimming across the Pacific Ocean with atom bombs clenched between their teeth, or the Mexicans come charging over the border with their third-rate weaponry (we've never let them have more than they needed to keep their own people properly tyranized), attacking San Diego and El Paso, I suppose even I might concede to a necessity for some sort of National Defense. But my response ("If I were King of the Forest!") would not be to whip out weapons that can kill thousands or millions of innocent bystanders, but rather (if physical violence really were necessary) to unleash professional assasins [sic] against the individuals in the invading country's goverment [sic] who are responsible. Of course, this sort of measured response, aimed directly at the genuinely guilty parties, is simply "not done." I've had several acquaintences [sic], who used to be in military intelligence organizations, independently tell me that U.S. spies advised our goverment [sic] back in 1938 to assasinate Adolph Hitler before he got too dangerous. This plan was vetoed on the grounds that fighting a war by assasination [sic] was likely to get OUR politicians assasinated in retaliation. So to save the lives of a handful of politicans [sic] in the US and Europe, twenty million men, women and children died. A direct result of that war was the invention and use of the very weapons that threaten our planet's survival today. Frankly, I would rather have lost twenty or thirty politicians. None of this deals with the ethics of assasination [sic], of course. And so far, our goverment [sic] assasins [sic] have proven much more effective at eliminating democratically elected (but economically threatening) leaders (both foreign and domestic) than at killing genuine threats to world peace. Nonetheless, I would far rather live in a world where wars were fought personally by the people who benefited most from them (the generals, the politicians, the dictators/kings, the multi- billionaires, the commissars, etc.) than in what we have now - those folks pulling puppet strings to make the rest of us dance, and die, to their tunes.
Comment: Mr. Bonewits apparently has some interesting but highly delusive sources, and seems to assigns some credibility to their confabulations. He has also commented to a well-respected but equally na•ve European Wiccan that the CIA was "full of Satanists."
But that's a fantasy. We are stuck with what we have. The CIA, the KGB and all the other alphabet comrades take their orders from the powers-that-be in each nation/corporation, not from ordinary citizens like thee and me. This may not change in our lifetime. So even if you could convince yourself that murder is sometimes ethically justifiable, a career in these agencies is going to be no more ethical than one in the associated armed forces.
But what about the theory of the "just war"? That always comes up in these discussions. I say it's just a war if you defend yourself when the KKK attacks your farmhouse and tries to shoot your husband and kids, burn down your barn, and rape your cow. At that point you're ethically, morally and even legally (outside of New York City) entitled to defend yourself and your family from "a clear and present danger." But wen [sic] the Front for the Liberation of XYZ attacks its country's Gestapo in an effort to free prisoners who are being tortured for trying to organize labor unions, and the Russians or the Americans (or the British, the Israelis, the French, the Chinese, etc) send in tanks, bombers, napalm and experts to train the Gestapo in better torturing techniques - no, thats [sic] not a just war for the invaders - no matter what impact the results might have on the President's or the Chairman's Swiss bank accounts, and no matter what noninterference might do to the next quarter's profit margin or the current five year plan.
The overwhelming majority of wars that have been fought in America's brief history, like those of Britain, France and other Western nations, have had little to do with "preserving human freedom." Our Revolution and the War of 1812 were fought so that a bunch of wealthy men (George Washington and friends) wouldn't have to pay taxes to England, at least as much as they were for "life, liberty and the pursuit of (male, land-owning) happiness." The Civil War was an economical battle between the Second Wave industrial North and the First Wave agricultural South, with the freeing of slaves an afterthought done more for it's devastating economic impact than for any concern for human rights. The genocide campaigns against the Native Americans, the multiple invasions of Central America, The Spanish American War, etc. were all done for the purpose of gaining physical territory and/or exclusive trading "rights" ("Hi, Give us all your natural resources at dirt cheap prices or we'll kill you!"). The First World War was for the benefit of the banks and the munitions manufacturers (who also had a hand in setting up WWII).
Comment: Mr. Bonewits here, as he does throughout this article, places his own editorial and revisionist slant on history. But as any good editor or revisionist, he usually starts with a grain of truth and adds his own prejudiced spin.
Even I have to admit that Hitler needed stopping, although I've already indicated one way it could have been prevented (by all the Gods, it could have been prevented by the WWI victors simply not having been so nasty afterwards!), but the war in the Pacific was the direct result of Japanese and the American Empires disputing territory thousands of miles from either's home turf (neither of them really had any 'rights' to the Kingdom of Hawaii). Korea and Vietnam were also territorial grabs. We wanted to make sure that prime agricultural land (before defoliation, the Mekong Delta used to be called 'the Bread Basket of Southeast Asia') rubber plantations, tungsten mines, offshore oil deposits, etc., remained under our control (or that of our 'friends'), rather than let the rival Chinese or Russian Empires have them. Not to mention the wonderful locations for air, land and naval bases close to our rivals (no "Monroe Doctrine" for our competitors, no-sir-ree, just for us).
None of this should be surprising, except for those who believe their high school history books or the stories in the mass media. Every Empire in history has acted this way: The Russian Empires (both Czarist and Communist), the Chinese ones, the British, etc., going all the way back to Mesopotamia, have all grabbed as much loot as they could and have made up whatever excuses, if any, their soldiers needed to hear. In most of the modern empires, however, it has become necessary to claim that one's invading armies are not conquering turf, but are liberating toiling masses instead. China doesn't commit genocide in Tibet, it "educates people away from their superstitions." America doesn't prop up sleezy dictators who are killing their own citizens, we "help friendly governments to maintain a strong defense against communism." Russia didn't invade Afghanastan [sic] to gain access to the Middle East and create another buffer state around its national borders, it was "helping a friendly goverment [sic] to maintain a strong defense against capitalism" - oops, that one's already been used."
The bottom line of all this political discussion is that goverment [sic]s - all goverment [sic]s - habitually lie to their citizens and the rest of the world, especially when planning and executing wars. The only thing that makes ours any better is that the U.S. was founded by a bunch of agnostic, skeptical, Freemasons who didn't trust goverment [sic]s very much - including the one they were founding - and who tried to see to it that intelligent people could keep the corruption and tyranny down to a dull roar. But that's impossible if citizens naively believe whatever their goverment [sic] tells them is true, routinely obey whatever orders they are told have come down from on high, and object to messages like this one being published. I'm not the first to point out these unpleasant and "treasonous" truths - Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, H.L. Mencken, and other famous/infamous people repeatedly remarked on the gullibiliity [sic] of the general public when faced with official versions of reality.
Comment: Mr. Bonewits obviously has some misconceptions about Freemasons as well. Agnosticism is incompatible with the tenets of Freemasonry. His other points, however, are well taken. They did not trust government-- any government. Hence, when they created an experimental one, they instituted a system of checks and balances. Not fool proof, by any means, and certainly no guarantee against corruption as recent history has repeatedly shown us. And most of the founders of this experiment probably would not be particularly happy with how it has evolved. It is not the perfect form of government--- but all the others are so much worse. I do not think, however, that the average American citizen is quite so na•ve as Mr. Bonewits would have us believe.
People not only tend to believe what they're told when governments are leading young men off to slaughter, they tend to actively dis- believe any evidence to the contrary. Historians now know that the Lusitania, supposedly an innocent cruise liner whose sinking by the German navy was one of the primary incidents that led the U.S. into entering WWI, was indeed carrying ammunition to the British. Evidence has accumulated that the U.S. battleship Maine was blown up by American spies in order to create an incident to goad a reluctant public into the Spanish-American War. John F. Kennedy, who was begining [sic] to de-escalate the Vietnam War, was "coincidentally" assasinated [sic], then replaced with someone who was quite willing to keep the war going as long as needed. All this has been published over and over again, in scholarly journals, in the back pages of newspapers, in obscure political magazines. But very few people read these unpopular facts, and most of those who do don't believe them, since they contradict the history books, the goverment [sic], the press, and the military. Those who do believe are so cynical that they don't think it really matters - after all, whats' [sic] done is done.
Comment: Again, Mr. Bonewits tends to underestimate and demean the intellectual faculties of the average American citizen.
In one sense they're right. We can't change the past. All we can try to do is to remember as many of its lessons as possible. Amoung [sic] those many lessons are (a) governments seldom are willing to pass up any opportunity to gain greater power, (b) governments always become more powerful in wartime, and therefore (c) there is a built-in incentive for governments to be in a constant state of war. So we not only have to watch the scoundrels in our own government, but those in all the others as well. How does all this political skepticism tie into Neopagan ethical approaches to military service? Very simply. When our government tells us, or anybody else's government tells its citizens, that a war is necessary for "national defense," the odds are a thousand to one that the government is lying. For the individual member of the armed forces, murder, rape and pillage, whether directo [sic] or by remote control, become even harder to excuse when you haven't even a shred of hard evidence that the crimes you are being ordered to commit are actually going to protect your loved ones at home from whatever theoretical threat is being waved in your face. What you can be sure your crimes will do - up to the point where someone starts WWIII - is to fatten several national leaders' Swiss bank accounts, generate enormous profits for the arms industry in all the countries involved (the same companies in Europe sold weapons to all sides in both World Wars, and are still doing it today), get rid of a lot of surplus teenage males (always a threat to the inner stability of any culture), and thoroughly mix the gene pools of the survivors.
None of these results, except the last, is one that the average Neopagan approves of, and there are plenty of ethical (and much more pleasant) ways to mix genes. So I'm forced to repeat my earlier conclusions. Despite all the traditional arguments about "just wars" and "national defense" and making the world safe for democracy/- capitalism/ communisim [sic], etc, a soldier, sailor, marine, or airfighter [sic] in a modern superpower armed forces organization is holding down a job where he/she has agreed to commit acts of a grossly unethical and immoral nature whenever he/she is ordered to commit them, for reasons that will usually be equally unethical and immoral. That makes superpower military service (and that in many smaller nations) a "wrong livelihood" for a Neopagan. Period.
What about other forms of "serving your country?" If the government decides that all citizens must spend a year or two working as firefighters, or conservation corpsmembers [sic], or hospital workers or street pavers, etc., then such service may be perfectly ethical and moral. An argument can even be made that such community service is a genuine moral obligation (nobody, except absolute Libertarians, likes parasites very much). However, if such service becomes "alternative service," meaning that you are filling a job position so that someone else can go commit crimes in your place, then you haven't escaped the ethical and moral issues, however worthy the service you are performing might be.
Comment: Here again Mr. Bonewits is attempting to usurp the individual's moral prerogative and responsibility. He is no less a monomaniac in this regard than the ultra-fundamentalist Christian, Muslim or Jew.
I'd like to emphasise [sic] that I am not saying that Neopagans in the military are "bad people" or "lousy excuses for Pagans." Many very good people join the military for reasons that have little to do with wanting to kill. They join to get job training (although they often get cheated in this area), to earn tuition to pay for college later, to travel around the world (..."visit exotic places, meet fascinating people, and kill them"), or because they genuinely believe that they will be helping to "defend their country" by becoming part of the military machine. If you grow up believing everything that the government and the mass media tells you, this sort of innocence is understandable. What I am saying is that Neopagans now in the military, or contemplating being there, should think long and hard about all the issues and arguments, official and unofficial, overt and covert, genuine and fraudulent, before they decide to stay or join.
Now about those Pagan cops: As I see it, the major polytheological point in evaluating the morality and ethicality of law enforcement has to do with the nature of the laws that are being enforced. A discussion in the field of criminology: "Crimes with victims" and "crimes without victims". The former are the obvious ones: murder, rape, arson, theft, fraud, most traffic laws, etc. and some subtler ones such as bribery, graft, etc. The latter are activities in which there either is no victim at all or in which the primary "victim" is the criminal: the vast majority of sex, drug, and gambling crimes fall under this classification. In essence, Judeo-Christian preachers who have been unable to convince their congregations to stop "sinning" have used their political power to get the civil governments to declare various sins to be "crimes."
It seems clear to me that no culture can survive for long if it allows crimes with victims to take place without efforts to prevent the crimes and/or punish the criminals. It seems equally clear that the legal creation of "crimes without victims" is a complete violation of the principle of seperation [sic] of church and state, but such is not unusual. A Neopagan cop who is devoting his/her career to working on a homocide [sic] squad, or investigating arson, or solving rapes etc, is behaving in a perfectly appropriate fashion for a Neopagan. Contrarywise, if she or he is arresting prostitutes, or busting gay couples for sodomy, or destroying pot fields, then she/he is not acting in keeping with Neopagan beliefs, but is instead using the force of the civil government to impose Judeo-Christian (and corporate) values on the general populance [sic]. That's not only immoral and unethical, it's unconstitutional as well. Unfortunately, in order to get promoted to a position where you can concentrate on crimes-with-victims, you usually have to spend several years enforcing victimless crimes.
Comment: Being a self-appointed "spiritual leader" does not give one the authority to declare a statute "unconstitutional;" being elected to the junior house of Congress does not give one the authority to suspend Constitutional guarantees to the military population. Interpretation of the Constitution is vested in the Judiciary, a fact that both Congressman Barr and Mr. Bonewits should recall from their high school government classes.
The other major sorts of crimes without victims are the political ones. In these "crimes", generally useful laws are reinterpeted [sic] to forbid what are supposed to be constitutionaly [sic] protected protest activities. And this is where we get into gray areas of interpretation. If a hundred thousand people are marching down a street protesting a government policy (ie, exercising their constitutional right to peacably [sic] assemble and petition the government for a redress of their grievances), it's immoral and unethical to attack them with billy clubs and police dogs, even if you think their opinions stupid or ignorant. But if someone from an ecological action group has decided to destroy bulldozers, or sink whaling ships or dump bags of red paint on members of a government commission who are neglecting their duties to protect endangered species - then we have a problem., [sic] Their activities are clearly illegal, and are indeed crimes that have victims (the developers, the whalers, the bureaucrats), yet they are being done to prevent even greater crimes, ones that many Neopagans would also oppose. Personally I cheered when I heard about the "eco-terrorists" who sank the whaling vessel in Iceland, wrecked the whalers mainframe computer and destroyed the freezing units. But when you become a law enforcement officer you swear an oath to uphold the law as written. You aren't (officially) allowed to pick and choose which laws you will enforce and which you will ignore, although every cop I've ever known did, in fact, pick and choose on a daily basis, simply as a matter of necessity in big cities (where there's too much crime going on for the police to stop all of it), and of tradition in small towns (where the local cop or sheriff is often judge, jury and punisher [sic] as well). However, as a law enforcement officer, you're supposed to enforce every law as it currently exists, no matter how unjust, stupid, immoral or ecocidal it might be. If a Neopagan takes that oath, she or he is going to be in spiritual trouble sooner or later.
Comment: Again, like all other religious extremists of whatever persuasion, Mr. Bonewits is applying a moral judgement to someone else's spirituality, while reserving the exclusive right of holding a double standard.
Yet, unlike the average member of the military, a cop routinely acts in a genuinely heroic way. The highway patrol keeps the crazies from killing the rest of us on the roads. Homicide detectives try to find murderers and stop them. SWAT teams capture or kill insane people who are shooting passersby. Cops pull people from burning cars and buildings, rescue drowining [sic] children, give mouth-to-mouth and CPR to collapsed victims of heart attacks, and risk their lives every day they go out onto big city streets.
If we had a legal system that was sane, rational and upheld the seperation [sic] of church and state, and a politcial [sic] system that was not terrified of its own citizens, then the career of law enforcement might be a completely honorable one, all the time, for a Neopagan. As it is, Neopagan cops must constantly be making complex ethical and moral decisions about their own behavior as cops. If you can find a section of your law enforcement agency where you can be exclusively involved in solving and/or preventing genuine crimes with victims, then you could have a long and honorable career. But if you are a general duty officer, then sooner or later you are going to be ordered to arrest someone you think is harmless and innocent, simply because they've violated some Judeo-Christian taboo. Thus, being a cop can be a right livelihood for a Neopagan, but its a hard road to walk. Nonetheless, there are advantages to the Neopagan community as a whole, in having cops around who know that Neopagans aren't baby- killing monsters. Certainly the fundamentalist cops are working real hard to convince the rest of their collegues [sic] that Neopagans are no different from the Satanists who are committing atrocities. Having some knowledgeable members of our community be also part of the law enforcement community can only improve communications between all of us.
Having said all these negative things about soldiers and cops, just what sorts if warriors DO I approve of? Well it should be obvious from my earlier remarks that I believe that martial artists are worthy of admiration, as are spiritual warriors in the Native American style (though that phrase, like "shaman" has been badly abused by New Agers and Neopagans alike). I also approve of earth Warriors or "ecoguerillas", such as the members of Earth First! and the Sea Shephard [sic] Soceity, who are willing to risk their own lives to protect our Mother. I think that private citizens who fight for freedom and our constitutional rights, through such groups as Common Cause, People for the America Way, the American Civil Liberties Union, etc. are warriors worthy of our admiration.
What all these warriors have in common, and what I think is fully in keeping with the warrior ideals of our Paleopagan ancestors, is a belief that process is as important as results. To a martial artist a dishonorable victory is not a victory. Ecoguerillas try very hard to avoid endangering human and animal life while they are destroying machinery. The legal action groups mentioned use constitutional means to defend the constitution, even though they know that their enemies will not.
And let us not forget the herosim [sic] of many people who do not think of themselves as warriors. The woman who pulls a plow because her children are hungry and the horse died, is a hero. The man who stays awake night after night nursing a sick child, is a hero. The nonviolent activist who lays her body down in front of a bulldozer or a truck carrying toxic waste, is a hero. The antinuclear protestor who is willing to go to jail for his or her beliefs, such as Starhawk, is a hero. And they are all, in their own ways, warriors that we can be proud of.
A genuine warrior confronts her or his enemy as another human being, not as a faceless stranger or a nonhuman [sic] "thing". A genuine warrior is willing to risk his or her own life, job, reputation, family relationships, and more, to fight for what he or she believes is morally and ethically right. A genuine warrior knows that her or his greatest challenge is internal, rather than external. If any of us wish to call ourselves "Warriors for the Gods" or "Defenders of Our Mother", then we must be willing to pledge "our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor" to the causes we claim to believe in. Anything less may be good on its own merits, but is not true heroism.
Comment: The only "enemy" that Mr. Bonewits has ever confronted has been uniformed police officers (or US troops) who were lawfully and legitimately engaged in maintaining public peace. If he found himself in an adversarial relationship with them, he did so by his own choice. Based on his previous comments regarding soldiers and policeman, it is doubtful that he considered them "human beings" in his confrontations. I find it blatantly hypocritical that Bonewits denigrates "George Washington and friends," then proceeds to quote "the bunch of wealthy men" who signed the Declaration of Independence. If Mr. Bonewits was an astute historian, he would know that many, if not most, of that "bunch of wealthy men" did indeed sacrifice their fortunes and lives in the cause of liberty. In the end, their sacred honor was all most of them had left. He obviously enjoys the liberties they bequeathed him, even though he is apparently ignorant of the price they paid to do so.
Thor, Indra, Athena, and Kali are not impressed by fancy costumes, expensive weapons, or self serving excuses. They are the ones who will judge whether someone is really a Neopagan warrior or a blowhard - not me, not ADF, and not the Neopagan Community. So if we are going to have warrior cults within ADF, the organizers are going to have to have their acts together. Each of them should select a cause with which most Neopagans can agree, then train themselves to fight for it effectively (not just romantically - but thats another whole essay), and begin the process of fighting. Just sitting around drinking beer and swapping war stories/myths is not going ti be enough to gain them any respect or support from the rest of us. Putting their bodies on the line for Our Mother will.
QUOTED TEXT AND COMMENTARY ENDS
Closing thoughts from an old soldier.
In the final analysis, LTC (ret) Maginnis, Congressman Barr, and Mr. Bonewits are of the same ilk. No one religion, political party, economic cartel, or social movement has a monopoly on bigots. Fortunately, they are usually in the minority of the given population. Unfortunately, they are usually the most vocal. LTC (ret) Maginnis has no substantial understanding of Wiccans or paganism; Mr. Bonewits has no substantial understanding of the military or law enforcement. Congressman Barr has no substantial understanding of any of the above. Yet they all publicly and aggressively promote their own myopic beliefs, and taunt them as some kind of "universal truth."
The problem here is they all, consciously or unconsciously, are infringing on the rights and interfering with free religious expression in a significant cross section of the population. Both sides are trying to use the issue of Wiccans in the military to support their own vested interests and agendas. The military has done a much better job of embracing religious pluralism than society as a whole. Again to quote General Washington, "when we assumed the soldier, we did not lay aside the citizen." The military acknowledges that fact; outsiders often do not.
So, as we approach the new Millennium, where does that leave the service member who chooses to be a Wiccan? Precisely in the same place he or she has always been, in the words of Bob Dylan:
An' here I sit so patiently,
Waiting to find out what price,
You have to pay to get out of,
Going through all these things twice.
Dr. Oringderff is a graduate of Dallas Baptist University, and holds an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Bowie State University (Maryland) and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from The Union Institute School of Professional Psychology in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is currently in private practice as a consultant and trainer in forensics, psychodiagnostics and psychotherapy. Dr. Oringderff is a veteran of over twenty-seven years in military and civilian law enforcement and intelligence work. After an initial tour of enlisted service, he returned to Texas and became a police officer. In the 1970s he worked as a Patrol Officer, Criminal Investigator, and Chief of Police in North Texas. In 1981 he was tendered a direct commission in the US Army and recalled to active duty. He retired in 1995 as a Major in the Military Intelligence Branch. Dr. Oringderff is a Subject Matter Expert consultant to the Department of Defense Armed Forces Chaplains Board on Alternative Religions, Sects and Cults. He has appeared on ABC World News Tonight, Good Morning America, NBC Dateline, VRT Television (Belgium), ZDF Television (Germany), and national and international printed media including Time Magazine, Texas Monthly der Spiegel and US News and World Report. Dr. Oringderff holds a Texas Peace Officer license with Master Certification, a Police Instructor license, a Forensic and Investigative Hypnotist license, Crisis Negotiation Certification, and serves as a Deputy Sheriff in Comal County.