Friday, November 17, 2006

Ah, sweet irony

I'm sure it comes as no surprise to hear that there is a lot of misinformation about the ACLU out there. One that continually pops up is an email that claims the ACLU is trying to get rid of crosses on graves in Arlington. It's been around for years, and never seems to die. (You can see it on, a great site that debunks urban myths like this one.)

The truth is that personal gravestones in federal cemeteries are chosen by the family of the deceased, and not by the government. The ACLU fully supports the right of these families to express their religious beliefs.

Apparently the US government doesn't share the this belief in religious expression. The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which provides headstones free of charge to mark the graves of eligible veterans, has refused to move on applications to have the pentacle of the Wiccan faith designated as an emblem of belief. An emblem of belief is included on the headstone only if it is on the list of symbols approved by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

This fall the ACLU and Americans United for Separation for Church and State filed separate lawsuits challenging the VA for refusing to move on applications for the Wiccan symbol for nine years. In the meantime, the agency approved additional emblems of numerous other religions and belief systems as a matter of course, usually in a few months. (More information about cases, see the ACLU press release and the Americans United release.)

And we're the ones who don't respect people's religious beliefs?

Sara in Philly


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