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March 3, 2006 2:35 PM   Subscribe

"I won't let my husband be blank on a wall for too long." Patrick Stewart (no, not that one) gave his life for his country. Normally his family should expect quiet, peaceful surroundings, and ... an atmosphere of respect and dignity. But because his faith lacks "a viable organization", he is being denied his choice of emblem of belief. His wife is waiting for justice before any marker is set. [via]
posted by If I Had An Anus (62 comments total)

 
The atheist and humanist emblems are hella gay.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:37 PM on March 3, 2006


An application seeking recognition of the Wiccan religion, and the use of the pentacle as an emblem of belief on memorials in veterans cemeteries, is working its way through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Rev. Selene Fox, senior minister of a Wiccan group called Circle Sanctuary, said the group filed the application for the use of the emblem with the Department of Veterans Affairs in January by using a new administrative process. The group filed the application with the widow of a Korean War veteran who wanted the symbol for her husband's memorial, she said.


Unless that application is rejected I don't see this as being a denial of choice as much as a procedural issue.

A symbol exists for atheists too.

Any idea what that symbol is?
posted by furtive at 2:41 PM on March 3, 2006


Ah didn't see the link.
posted by furtive at 2:41 PM on March 3, 2006


Wow. The atheist symbol is right of City of Heroes. Actually, a lot of these are. I hope the guy's family gets what they want though.

Is there a protocol for wanting to be cremated? I imagine the military just turns the corpse over to the family.
posted by bardic at 2:48 PM on March 3, 2006


Well, let me condense many comments about this in one.

Lame atheist symbol.
Also, no agnostic symbol.
For either, I think it would be cool to have "This space intentionally left blank" engraved.

Other symbols missing:
Pastafarian
Some oddball phallus worshipping religion
Some oddball venus worshipping religion
That guy smoking a pipe from whichever religion
A big smoking joint for rastafarianism
A smiley
Some eastern religion with a swastika

And, finally, how the hell do you copyright a 5 pointed star (muslim)?
posted by qvantamon at 2:53 PM on March 3, 2006


Suggested agnostic symbol:

?
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 3:03 PM on March 3, 2006


Also, I dare someone to post this at FreeRepublic.com. Might make some heads explode.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 3:03 PM on March 3, 2006


What a bunch of pretentious dicks. I hope they put a puckered anus on that guy's headstone for practicing a piss-off-your-folks religion after high school.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:07 PM on March 3, 2006


(And I'm as atheist as they come, but I would sooner have the Episcopal cross on my headstone than that atheist symbol. That looks like something Robert Heinlein would draw in marker on L. Ron Hubbard's chest at the end of a bender.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:13 PM on March 3, 2006


I was disappointed to see no Scientologist symbol.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:17 PM on March 3, 2006


I was disappointed to see no Scientologist symbol.

$
posted by thatwhichfalls at 3:20 PM on March 3, 2006


Artifice, ? is what Unitarians have burnt on their lawns by the KKK /old joke.
posted by bardic at 3:20 PM on March 3, 2006


Indeed - the atheist symbol is for shit. Betcha that was lobbied for by some dork who wears Star Fleet Academy pajamas.

What's really missing is Bob.
posted by MaxVonCretin at 3:26 PM on March 3, 2006


I kind of like it. It's atomic...
posted by Artw at 3:50 PM on March 3, 2006


The Humanist symbol looks like something for the Special Olympics or Pan-American Games (or Amway).
posted by klangklangston at 4:01 PM on March 3, 2006


I don't know what SOKA GAKKAI is, but apparently they believe in the Great Holy Spirograph.
posted by gurple at 4:06 PM on March 3, 2006


The atheists symbol is directly taken from the logo for American Atheists.

My wife has it as her keychain.
posted by Ryvar at 4:23 PM on March 3, 2006


Atheists who use a symbol are taking themselves a little too seriously.
posted by xmutex at 4:32 PM on March 3, 2006


ATHEISTS FROM SPACE
posted by 235w103 at 4:38 PM on March 3, 2006


Atheism needs a better logo.
posted by Ryvar at 4:40 PM on March 3, 2006


I kinda like the athiest symbol, actually... in a sliver-suit-wearing, phallic-rocket-driving man-of-science kind of way.
posted by brundlefly at 4:44 PM on March 3, 2006


Man, those guys are some hella tough, don't-fuck-with-me pagans. Not exactly the stereotype (of course, one of the Wiccans I knew in college was reputed to sleep with a hunting knife strapped to her ankle).

Anyway, my atheist tendencies were more sympathetic to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which doesn't seem to go in for a swoosh logo. "This space intentionally left blank" seems much better, actually.

I don't know why they don't let you just choose whatever you want on your tombstone. What if you don't like pepperoni? Er, technically I'm either American Baptist or Congregational/United Church of Christ, but if anything I'd rather go for the standard cross; I'm not sure how many of these niche religions' members really want the church logo on the granite rather than the central symbol of their religion.

I suppose that would leave it open to the odd Pat Tillman type, who'd probably want it to be the bird, if what his relatives said was true.
posted by dhartung at 4:47 PM on March 3, 2006


Soka Gakkai? haha, "Soka Gakkai International", that would be the annoying convert everyone (especially foriengers hence 'international') japanese power brokers wing of Nichiren Daishonin buddhism. Around for what, 20 years?? Definately doesnt deserve a symbol if wicca doesnt. just SGI does better lobbying.
posted by KantoKing at 4:47 PM on March 3, 2006


Soka Gakkai is a Japanese cult based on Buddhism. They are pretty creepy. They especially love to harass foreigners, whereas Aum wouldn't even give me the time of day.
posted by donkeymon at 4:55 PM on March 3, 2006


What happens when a CHRISTIAN SCIENTIST (Cross & Crown) or MUSLIM (Islamic 5 Pointed Star) dies? Do the feds have to pony up money to the copyright holder?
posted by Mitheral at 5:04 PM on March 3, 2006


Tits in a wigwam, I can't believe there's a symbol for atheism - kind of misses the point, no? These American Atheists, do they meet once a week and talk about how great atheism is, in a building non-consecrated for that purpose, maybe do a bit of genuflecting before their atom-totem?

I'm with Mayor Curley on the Wicca thing - if you're going to believe in made up stuff, at least have the style to pick something that has been around for a few thousand years, rather than something invented by a civil servant in the 1950s. Still, if the US army let your man have 'Wiccan' on his dog tags, they should probably allow it on their monuments...
posted by jack_mo at 5:15 PM on March 3, 2006


Whoa. I had just fired up Illustrator because I was just going to do a null symbol for atheism, and did a quick GIS to make sure I had the slash the right way, when bam:

Someone already did.



Great minds think alike.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:52 PM on March 3, 2006




It makes no sense to have a symbol for a negative, a lack of belief in theism.

On the other hand the neo-pagans (however silly most of them may be) have been a large and growing group. And the pentagram is easily a consensus symbol among the various brands of neo-paganism.

And requests have been ignored for years? That's not "revising procedures", it's a policy of religious discrimination. So is the requirement of an organization.

This will lead to a lawsuit, I predict.
posted by jam_pony at 6:19 PM on March 3, 2006


> It makes no sense to have a symbol for a negative, a lack of belief in theism.

But every group needs its own tribal marker--atheists especially, they're so engorged with themselves. What's wrong with a big red A on your chest? Nobody's used it since Hester Prynne and I'm sure her claim has long since elapsed.

posted by jfuller at 6:44 PM on March 3, 2006


> Other symbols missing:

Satanism, most conspicuously.

posted by jfuller at 6:46 PM on March 3, 2006


I find this sort of hard to believe, actually.

Don't they have wiccan chaplains?

If I died in the military, I'd want the the symbol on my gravestone to be two rifles, crossed over an oil barrel, surrounded by a ring of dollar signs.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:03 PM on March 3, 2006


jfuller, you do know what Prynne's "A" stood for, right? And who put it there? Hint: It wasn't Bertrand Russell. /goes off to engorge self
posted by bardic at 7:25 PM on March 3, 2006


I spent a good eighteen years going to church almost every Sunday. Why wasn't I told Lutherans have their own cross? Who uses that?
posted by graventy at 7:32 PM on March 3, 2006


Forgot one cool sign to put on a tomb:

A hand raising from the grave, like the ending on Carrie (and the scene in every zombie movie)

And a sign: "Caution, zombie"
posted by qvantamon at 7:35 PM on March 3, 2006


Something I never thought to think about: "What symbol do I want on my free headstone?"

You bring it up and I look and...Nuts! I don't like any of them!

Can I get mine customized? I'd like a little chrome...

Thanks, IIHAA, I really enjoy mefi because of posts like this. Now I don't know wtf I'm going to do. Even if the Wiccans get the pentangle through...that's not quite what I want either...

Nuts...

Getting old ain't all it's cracked up to be...it's complicated.
posted by taosbat at 7:52 PM on March 3, 2006


Tits in a wigwam, I can't believe there's a symbol for atheism - kind of misses the point, no? These American Atheists, do they meet once a week and talk about how great atheism is, in a building non-consecrated for that purpose, maybe do a bit of genuflecting before their atom-totem?

I sent in the $15 or whatever for a membership packet just for the humor-value of being able to say I was a card-carrying atheist (you get a membership card). To the extent I know about the actual organization from glancing at the front cover of their newsletter before chucking it, it's mostly a mailing list for stuff like the odd 'discrimination against' - translation: failure to account for - atheists.
posted by Ryvar at 7:57 PM on March 3, 2006


Taosbat: in a kind of 'Pimp my Grave' sort of way? I could totally go for that. As a strong Athiest I'd like LED's that continuously flash "Religion Sux and these other people are teh idiots". And maybe a grill around it (like rappers have for their teeth, instead of, like, for visitors to barbeque on using the heat from my eternally roasting flesh).
posted by Sparx at 8:19 PM on March 3, 2006


I spent a good eighteen years going to church almost every Sunday. Why wasn't I told Lutherans have their own cross? Who uses that?

That Lutheran cross is based on Martin Luther's self-designed coat of arms. Variations of it are frequently seen on Lutheran publications, I've seen it on altar cloths and banners, and also on jewelry medallions--which were frequent communion gifts in the church in which I was raised, a Wisconsin Evangelical Synod congregation. I still have one somewhere, I think.

<img src="http://www.godsoloved.org/images/3solas%20comp.gif"
posted by padraigin at 8:38 PM on March 3, 2006


Aw, hell.


posted by padraigin at 8:45 PM on March 3, 2006


I don't understand why you can't have a symbol for atheism. You can have a symbol for anything. Heck, the word atheism is a symbol for atheism.


And also, being the total nerd that I am, I'd probably ask for a Starship-and-Sun.
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:01 PM on March 3, 2006


The square and compass.
posted by Deep Dish at 9:07 PM on March 3, 2006


I can't speak now, Sparx. Unexpected, I am vision questing for a symbol in a dry land.

Some chrome would be good, 'though.
posted by taosbat at 10:02 PM on March 3, 2006


Having a symbol for atheism is like having a symbol for not collecting stamps.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 2:33 AM on March 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


Optimus Chyme , isn't that an "ø"? It's a letter, not a symbol. ;) Used when saying things like "bøvl!" and "Børk børk" (kidding on that lst one, the Swedish chef would say "börk börk" naturally. heh.)
posted by dabitch at 2:44 AM on March 4, 2006


Since I'm not a member of any glee clubs, does that make me a member of the non-glee club?
posted by shoos at 2:50 AM on March 4, 2006


Or what hoverboards said anyways
posted by shoos at 2:51 AM on March 4, 2006


Having a symbol for atheism is like having a symbol for the football team that you like when you don't like any football temas.
posted by signal at 5:54 AM on March 4, 2006


Having a symbol for atheism is like having a symbol for not collecting stamps.

By that logic, there should be no symbol for peace, because it is merely an absence of war.

Having a symbol for atheism is like having a symbol for the football team that you like when you don't like any football temas.

I think a lot of you are getting too caught up in the tombstone context of this. Symbols communicate all manner of ideas and schools of thought. Hell, even some so-called anarchists embrace that silly "A".
posted by MaxVonCretin at 6:54 AM on March 4, 2006


Strong atheism is as much a religion as any featuring dead people on sticks. Atheists have a firm belief that there is no god despite there being no way to test their hypothesis. Agnostics are the people who should have no symbol and indeed they don't.
posted by Mitheral at 8:55 AM on March 4, 2006


Optimus Chyme , isn't that an "ø"?

Yeah, but it's also the mathematical symbol for a null set.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:16 AM on March 4, 2006


Strong atheism is as much a religion...

It's not a religion, but it probably counts as faith. Hence why there aren't many strong atheists. Most disinterested people are weak atheists.

>>Having a symbol for atheism is like having a symbol for not collecting stamps.
>By that logic, there should be no symbol for peace, because it is merely an absence of war.

I don't think that analogy is quite right. It makes sense to have a symbol for peace if people care about it - after all, peace is a good thing that people enjoy having and are willing to fight for (oh, the irony! etc.).

It's not clear that people exactly enjoy being atheists or get anything out of it or do anything about it or even care about it. It might make sense to have a symbol for "religious freedom" or "freedom from religion", as these are things worth fighting for and caring about. Those angry atheists you see foaming and frothing on the internet don't care about atheism itself as an ism.

I say this as someone who cares deeply about everyone's right to practice their hobby, but doesn't collect stamps.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 9:21 AM on March 4, 2006


Wow, this went from the lack of a wiccan symbol FPP to another ill-informed bashing of non-believers in general and a large consensus to deny them representation. Is the atheist symbol so offensive to middle america? In this context (beliefs recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs) you have all these religious icons and atheism is a religious position. I don't see the big deal. It seems to me that a good opportunity to bash non-believers is hard to pass up.

The old 'knee-slapper' stamp-collecting joke is sadly how a lot of people see non-belief. I know, we're all a bunch of snarks here, but you know, try delivering teh funny sometime.

Symbols for belief and non-belief. Its not rocket science.

As for the aesthetics of the symbols. Well, most are pretty fugly to me. The Mormon one looks like fat guy about to do a beer bong. The Greek cross would make me think the soldier was probably a medic. The Presbyterian is burning man. The Russian Orthodox makes me think, "Which way to Stormwind?" Whatcha know? A committee will choose bad art. And I doubt its some big attack on one's freedom to not allow your latest MS Paint masterpiece. Imagine all the "Bush with Hitler mustaches" and "Bill Clinton with a giant boner" if they did.
posted by skallas at 11:28 AM on March 4, 2006


I was going to say that there is no Jain symbol listed, but a) I guess the Hindu one would do in a pinch, as they use it too and b) I somehow doubt there are many Jain soldiers, seeing as ... well ... non-violence and all.
posted by anjamu at 3:30 PM on March 4, 2006


It might make sense to have a symbol for..."freedom from religion", as these are things worth fighting for and caring about. Those angry atheists you see foaming and frothing on the internet don't care about atheism itself as an ism.

The ism word is irrelevant. But "freedom from religion" is exactly what the so-called "foaming and frothing" is all about. If one's knowledge of history leads one to firmly embrace the notion that religion is as destructive as any cancer, then being consciously unaflicted by the dementia that is faith provides as much (greater, I believe) spiritual satisfaction than the trappings of any silly groupthink cult ever can. So there.
posted by MaxVonCretin at 4:32 PM on March 4, 2006


Why does an atheist need a headstone anyway? If there is no god or heaven or resurrection what is the point of hanging on to your stinky old corpse and stuffing it in the ground? All the atheists I know plan on being cremated and tossed to the four winds.

What? Your family needs some sort of space to remember you? Plant a tree, frame a photograph, donate a medical wing to your hospital.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:43 PM on March 4, 2006


Not all family members of atheists are atheists. If someone wants to visit a rock with my name on it, I won't care; I'm dead.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:47 PM on March 4, 2006


ill-informed bashing of non-believers in general and a large consensus to deny them representation

I was under the impression that most of the people saying "no symbol" was the most appropriate symbol were atheists themselves. I didn't notice any bashing taking place, but coming from you it's pretty funny to hear whining about one's beliefs being insulted.

try delivering teh funny sometime.

I suppose you think your last paragraph 'delivers'.
posted by If I Had An Anus at 6:38 PM on March 4, 2006


The Humanist symbol is well established, with slightly different versions used by, e.g., the American Humanist Association and the British Humanist Association.
posted by Creosote at 9:13 PM on March 4, 2006


Oh, and why not the Hacker Emblem:


posted by Creosote at 9:22 PM on March 4, 2006


It's not clear that people exactly enjoy being atheists or get anything out of it or do anything about it or even care about it.

Well, I can only speak for myself, but I enjoy being an atheist, I get something out of it, and I care about it. I don't display atheist symbols because I don't understand advertising your religious views. I wouldn't wear a cross if I were Christian or a Star of David if I were Jewish.
posted by obol at 9:35 PM on March 4, 2006


Update: approval may come soon.
posted by If I Had An Anus at 6:34 AM on March 27, 2006


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