Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Sailors Hold Heathen Religious Services Aboard Deployed Aircraft Carrier
If you're deployed aboard the carrier John C. Stennis and consider yourself a practitioner of Norse paganism, you're in luck. The carrier, now operating in the Persian Gulf, is holding lay services in the ship's chapel to serve a "small, committed" group of sailors identifying as Heathens, according to a recent news release from the carrier.
The development is the latest in a series of boosts for Heathenism in the U.S. military, a little-known religion with roots in Viking mythology that has gradually gained recognition in the services. A 2013 non-scientific "census" poll by the Norse Mythology Blog identified nearly 8,000 Heathen respondents in the U.S. and more than 16,000 worldwide. A 2018 estimate from religious author Jefferson Calico suggested there may be up to 20,000 American Heathens.
According to the Stennis release, Aviation Electrician's Mate 2nd Class Joshua Wood, a practitioner of Heathenry for more than five years, was appointed Heathen lay leader for the carrier. This distinction allows him to facilitate sumbels, or informal Heathen religious services, within the ship's chapel.
Religious lay leaders must be appointed by commanding officers "on the basis of volunteerism, high moral character, motivation, religious interest and a letter of certification by the appointee's religious organization," according to the release, which cites the Military Personnel Manual.
While the release did not state how many sailors are regularly joining Wood for services, it includes quotes from one other Navy practitioner, Aviation Electronics Technician Airman Joshua Shaikoski.
Shaikoski was born in Norway, where Heathenism originated, but grew up Lutheran, he said.
"I never felt like I connected with anything spiritual until I visited Norway and discovered a group of Heathens who opened my eyes to their religion," he said in a statement. "When I returned to [the United States], I met a kindred that aligned with my beliefs, and I've been with them ever since."
Deployed at sea since October, Heathens aboard the Stennis pray to Njord, the god of seafarers, one of many deities recognized by the religion, Shaikoski said. He added that rumors of practices such as animal sacrifice are not credible.
"Heathenry helped me connect with people on the ship that I would have just passed by," he said.
While Christianity remains the most common religious affiliation for service members, the military has taken steps to become more pluralistic in recent years. In 2017, the Pentagon more than doubled its list of recognized religionsto 221, compiling faiths already recognized by various service branches into a master list.
Heathenry, in particular, has seen a number of advances in the military. In 2013, Arlington National Cemetery approved the Hammer of Thor, or Mjölnir, as an accepted religious symbol to adorn military headstones. Mjölnir is a popular religious symbol for Heathens.
In 2018, a soldier was granted a grooming standards waiver in order to wear a beard to symbolize his Norse Pagan faith.
This article originally appeared on Military.com
More articles from Military.com:
- Police Continue to Investigate Fatal Shooting at Marine Barracks Washington
- China Lands Spacecraft on 'Dark' Side of Moon in World First
- Family Fights to Display Medal of Honor in Marine Legend's Hometown
Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Iron Mountain. Committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace, Iron Mountain is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn more here.
Jackie Melendrez couldn't be prouder of her husband, her sons, and the fact that she works for the trucking company Iron Mountain. This regional router has been a Mountaineer since 2017, and says the support she receives as a military spouse and mother is unparalleled.
Master Sgt. Larry Hawks, a retired engineer sergeant who served with 3rd Special Forces Group, is being awarded the Distinguished Service Cross on Friday for "valorous actions" in Afghanistan in 2005.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A 40-foot-tall (12 meters) cross-shaped war memorial standing on public land in Maryland does not constitute government endorsement of religion, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday in a decision that leaves unanswered questions about the boundaries of the U.S. Constitution's separation of church and state.
The justices were divided on many of the legal issues but the vote was 7-2 to overturn a lower court ruling that had declared the so-called Peace Cross in Bladensburg unconstitutional in a legal challenge mounted by the American Humanist Association, a group that advocates for secular governance. The concrete cross was erected in 1925 as a memorial to troops killed in World War One.
The ruling made it clear that a long-standing monument in the shape of a Christian cross on public land was permissible but the justices were divided over whether other types of religious displays and symbols on government property would be allowed. Those issues are likely to come before the court in future cases.
A relative of the man who opened fire outside downtown Dallas' federal building this week warned the FBI in 2016 that he shouldn't be allowed to buy a gun because he was depressed and suicidal, his mother said Thursday.
Brian Clyde's half-brother called the FBI about his concerns, their mother Nubia Brede Solis said. Clyde was in the Army at the time.
On Monday, Clyde opened fire with an AR-15-style rifle at the Earle Cabell Federal Building. He was fatally shot by federal law enforcement. No one else was seriously injured. His family believes Clyde wanted to be killed.