The Air Force Times reports on Air Force SSgt Garrett Sopchak, who just became the first US Air Force Airman to be allowed to wear a beard — because he adheres to Norse Heathen religious beliefs.
The Army granted a similar waiver last year, and beard exemptions have been granted for a growing number of Sikhs and Muslims — though not atheists.
Sopchak, a 28-year-old aerospace ground equipment craftsman at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, on July 8 become the first airman to get approval to wear a beard in accordance with his Heathen faith.
Sopchak said in a Tuesday interview that in the old sagas, a beard was Read more
Along with Sikhs, Humanists, homosexuals, and transgenders, another group seeking “official” US military recognition is heathens. Writing at Religion News Service, Kimberly Winston — normally RNS’s atheist hired writer — recounts the stories of self-described military heathens who want to put “heathen” on their dog tags:
Jeremiah McIntyre wants to be called a Heathen.
The 38-year-old Army sergeant follows the old Norse religion Asatru, in which the god Thor swings his hammer in the sky and Odin rules a heavenly place called Valhalla. Should McIntyre die, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs would allow a hammer of Thor on his tombstone.
But the Army does not otherwise currently recognize the active-duty soldier’s faith…
That much is true, as has been previously discussed more than once. Winston then digresses into what she perceives as affronts to the unrecognized heathen masses: Read more
NPR’s Weekend Edition recently noted the increasing variety of “emblems of belief” that are permitted to adorn headstones provided by the Veterans’ Administration:
Don Murphy spent two decades with the National Cemetery Administration. The VA’s list now has 61 symbols, ranging from crosses to a swirling atom to the hammer of Thor.
MURPHY: If the list continues to grow, that is fine. The VA does not question the individual belief system of any eligible veteran or their spouse or dependent.
There are a few requirements. The icon must be dignified and has to lend itself to being carved in stone, but beyond that, the definition of belief is fairly broad. And according to military chaplain Nickolas Gaines, more and more, that’s how belief is.
VA’s Sandhill Crane
The addition of Thor’s Hammer was noted here a few years ago; that Read more
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, Read more
An Air Force Airman posting as “A1C Venom” has started a YouTube page in which he comments on various issues of religion, including “Atheism in the Military.” His video is calmly presented and not altogether unbalanced, though a few of his comments are confusing, leading one to wonder if he actually understands some of what he’s saying or how well informed he is.
For example, he states at the beginning of the video that he’s “seen a lot of discrimination” as an atheist in the military, yet he doesn’t provide a single example of discrimination. He does talk about prayer at military events (which he feels is Read more
The US Department of Veteran’s Affairs has added “Thor’s Hammer” to the list of approved emblems that may be placed on headstones in VA cemeteries.
Who knew the Marvel movie was actually a documentary?
The VA list already includes a variety of obscure symbols, including Eckankar, Seicho-No-Ie, an atomic-A (for atheism), the humanist H, and a “landing eagle,” which Read more