US Soldiers Still Trying to Get Heathenism Recognized
The Army Times reports on the long-running efforts by a few US Army Soldiers to have “heathenism” recognized as an official faith group code (in essence, a designator within one’s personnel records). Apparently, an initial notice of approval was put on hold as the separate service branches attempt to create a DoD-wide list of faith group codes.
An umbrella term covering multiple faith groups, “Heathenism” generally applies to any faith surrounding ancient deities from Norse, Germanic, Anglo-Saxon or similar cultures. At least one such sub-group, Asatru, also resides on the Air Force faith-code list.
The initial request was made, somewhat eponymously, by then Army Soldier Josh Heath. After leaving the Army, he re-engaged when Thor’s Hammer was approved by the VA for headstones (which was highlighted here in 2013):
“Thor’s hammer, one of the symbols of our faith, is approved for soldiers that die, [but] soldiers that are on active duty don’t have the right to have their religion respected while they’re living.”
The article describes the relevance of the faith group code, noting it is essentially an administrative marker for personnel records, though it might provide some information to a chaplain who presides over a fallen soldier’s memorial service.