Air Force Academy Adapts to Pagans, Druids, Witches, Wiccans

Air Force Academy Adapts To Pagans, Druids, Witches and Wiccans Officials say an $80,000 Stonehenge-like worship center underscores a commitment to embrace all religions. (Pic in URL) Cadets gather for the dedication ceremony of the Air Force Academy's Cadet Chapel Falcon Circle worship center this spring. The center serves cadets whose religions fall under the broad category of “Earth-based.” (Jerilee Bennett, (Colorado Springs) Gazette / May 3, 2011)

By Jenny Deam November 26, 2011 Reporting from Colorado Springs, Colo.— In the still of a cold November evening, a small gathering of pagans, led by two witches, begins preparations for the coming winter solstice. But these are not just any pagans, and this is not just any setting. They are future officers of the United States Air Force practicing their faith in the basement of the Air Force Academy's cadet chapel.

Their ranks are slim. According to the academy's enrollment records, only three of 4,300 cadets identified themselves as pagans, followers of an ancient religion that generally does not worship a single god and considers all things in nature interconnected.

Still, the academy this year dedicated an $80,000 outdoor worship center — a small Stonehenge-like circle of boulders with propane fire pit — high on a hill for the handful of current or future cadets whose religions fall under the broad category of "Earth-based." Those include pagans, Wiccans, druids, witches and followers of Native American faiths.

Witches in the Air Force? Chaplain Maj. Darren Duncan, branch chief of cadet faith communities at the academy, sighs. A punch line waiting to happen, and he's heard all the broom jokes.

Read More: