Wiccan Widow of Soldier Gives VA Ultimatum in Grave Marker Case

September 27, 2006

Source: Nevada Appeal News Service


On September 27, 2006 the Nevada Appeal News Service reported, "Wiccan widow Roberta Stewart announced Tuesday at the Americans United rally at Powning Park in Reno that an official notice was sent to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to respond within 14 days demanding the approval of the Wiccan symbol of the pentacle as a grave marker or a lawsuit would be filed.

Americans United, the legal representatives for Stewart and another Wiccan widow, sent the letter to the Veterans Administration regarding the religious of Sgt. Patrick Stewart, Roberta's late husband, and an alleged violation of the U.S. Constitution.

'This is a fight about our constitutional rights, which reads; "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,"' said Roberta Stewart. 'The establishment of religion as the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was deemed important to our forefathers, yet is being ignored by a federal agency more than 200 years later.'

Many attended the religious rally marking the one-year anniversary of the death of Patrick Stewart in Afghanistan. He was killed with four other Nevada National Guard soldiers when their Chinook helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade.

'This is for the freedom of religion for all Americans,' said the Rev. Bill Chrystal, a retired military chaplain, of the First Congressional Church of Reno. 'First it's freedom of religion, then it's freedom of speech and then freedom of the press. Where will it stop if we don't fight?'"