US Troop is Soldier, Businessman, Pagan Priest

An official DoD article covering the theme “Why We Serve” highlights SPC Adama Blackthorn, who has the nickname “Evil.”  It highlights his unusual life story, from a practically homeless bouncer to making candles as a hobby with his family:

His all-natural candles also play a role in his faith — the Earth-based Pagan religion.

“I’ve been a practicing Pagan for almost two decades, and it’s very fulfilling,” said Blackthorn…

“I grew up Southern Baptist and my family is all Christian. They wanted me to become a pastor. I kind of am, but as a Pagan,” said Blackthorn.

Blackthorn has an interesting view of paganism in the US military:

“There is a large Pagan, Wiccan community in the military. The reason why people don’t realize we’re there is because the faith had to go underground…”

Still, he has taken advantage of the military’s environment of religious freedom, ultimately becoming the “distinctive faith group leader” for pagans:

“The military is about giving everyone the opportunity to practice their spiritual beliefs. I stepped forward as a Pagan minister and said, ‘I hear there is a need for a Pagan, Wiccan representative and I’m willing to do it’,” said Blackthorn.

In an interesting comparison, the presence of Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism — even Christianity and Islam — within the US military seem to get far less intentional coverage than paganism.  The occasional emphasis by reporters on Earth-based religions may simply be out of surprise that paganism/wicca is “popular,” or it could be an effort to demonstrate the free exercise of religion in the US military afforded even to groups not historically considered “mainstream.”