Lawsuit over Pagan Symbol Affects Wisconsinites

By: Justin Ware
By: Justin Ware

When Madison Army veteran Dennis Presser was 14-years-old, his father was killed in a car accident.

For years, Presser says he struggled for answers about his father's death, and his religion

"Basically, the whole time I was in the Army, I was searching for some kind of religion that would speak to me as a person," said Presser, "and I found it."

Presser found his answers in Paganism.

It's he religion he's now been practicing for the last 20 years.

But now he's searching for a different answer.

Presser wants to know why the department of Veteran's Affairs won't allow him to put his religious symbol, a Pentacle, on his military headstone when he dies.

"Muslims have one, Jews have two or three," said Presser, "why they don't let Pagans have one? I don't know."

In all, the V.A. lists 38 different religious symbols that are acceptable, but the Pentacle is not one of them.

"The principle of equal treatment is generally respected in our federal government system," said Barry Lynn, Americans united for separation of church and state. "Sadly, one area where problems still remain is the department of veteran's affairs."

The "Americans for Separation of Church and State" have joined with with a pagan group and are suing the federal government, hoping to have their religious beliefs recognized.

Presser says he's hoping it works.

And, that people start looking at his nature-based religion with an open mind.

"Why my religion is such a threat to some people is beyond my understanding."

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