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The Deacon's Bench

Evidently, Wiccans form the largest non-Christian faith in the Air Force. Now they’ll have a place to call their own:

The U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado will set aside a worship space for followers of “Earth-centered” religions such as Wicca and Druidism, according to an Air Force news release.

A stone circle atop a hill on the base in Colorado Springs will likely be dedicated in a ceremony March 10, according to the release, and be available to cadets and other service members who live in the area. The base already has worship spaces for Protestants, Catholics, Muslims and Buddhist, the release said.

The Air Force has been accused of allowing evangelical officers to openly proselytize and pressure cadets of other faiths. In 2005, the Air Force issued new guidelines pledging to “accommodate free exercise of religion and other personal beliefs.”

Tech. Sgt. Brandon Longcrier, who worked with academy officials to create the space, said in the news release, “there really haven’t been any obstacles for the new circle. The chaplain’s office has been 100 percent supportive.”

Longcrier, who became a pagan in 2006, said “when I first arrived here, Earth-centered cadets didn’t have anywhere to call home. Now, they meet every Monday night, they get to go on retreats, and they have a stone circle.”

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