News / USA

US Military to Allow Troops to Outwardly Display Religious Beliefs

FILE - U.S. Marines pray before the arrival of President Barack Obama at Marine Corps Base-Camp Pendleton in California, August 7, 2013.
FILE - U.S. Marines pray before the arrival of President Barack Obama at Marine Corps Base-Camp Pendleton in California, August 7, 2013.
VOA News
The U.S. military says its troops can now outwardly display their religious beliefs, such as growing beards or wearing a turban, as long as it does not impair the country's defense mission.

Until now, the Defense Department has not had a consistent policy on religious accommodations. But under the new policy, the Pentagon said military personnel can seek individual waivers to wear religious clothing, seek prayer time or engage in religious practice.

A military spokesman said the religious requests would be granted unless it would have "an adverse effect on military readiness, mission accomplishment, unit cohesion and good order and discipline." The Pentagon said that "expression of sincerely held beliefs" would not be used for "adverse personnel action" against any military service personnel.

Under the new rules, Jewish troops will be able to seek a waiver to wear a yarmulke, and Sikhs could request to wear a turban and grow a beard. Others could ask for specific times to pray, ask that they be allowed to carry prayer beads or various religious symbols or wear religious body art.

You May Like

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
January 24, 2014 1:18 AM
Any where in the world military men and women should display high standard of professionalism not simple of religious beliefs.

What make us all idiots and fanatics are religious beliefs.

by: Stephen Real from: Columbia USA
January 23, 2014 11:55 PM
The Battle of Saragarhi was fought before the Tirah Campaign on 12 September 1897 between twenty-one Sikhs of the the 4th Battalion of the Sikh Regiment of British India, defending an army post, and 10,000 Afghan and Orakzai tribesmen. 36th Sikhs was led by Havildar Ishar Singh. They all chose to fight to the death. It is considered by some military historians as one of history's great last-stands. Sikh military personnel and Sikh civilians commemorate the battle every year on 12 September, as Saragarhi Day as the battle was giving the honor of a regimental holiday.

Colonel Haughton, was the last Sikh defender. He is stated to have killed 20 Afghans, the Pashtuns having to set fire to the post to kill him. As he was dying he was said to have yelled repeatedly the Sikh battle-cry "Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal" (Shout Aloud in Ecstasy! True is the Great Timeless One). "Akal," meaning Immortal, beyond death, the Supreme Creator God unbound by time and non-temporal.

The US military listens closely for many reasons.

This was an extremely difficult call for leadership to make on the behalf of the Sikh community. The legendary warrior class of the Sikhs has an extremely high standard to follow set by warriors like Commander Haughton that has won them many a quiet supporter. This is just one step in the long push to victory. Congratulations.

by: ali baba from: new york
January 23, 2014 6:37 PM
this is a shameful news. we encourage Muslim to have their bears and display the picture of Osama bin laden as a hero. the American is losing its traditional and it is sad .even in Egypt ,the military and police prohibit solders to have a bears.. but the liberal democrat want to do so
In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
January 23, 2014 10:24 PM
what about thousand who were killed in Iraq because the Muslim wave el jihad against them . did you forget the marine bodies in Falagua and the terrorist group make a party about killing them . bear is the symbol of fanatic . in Egypt ,they know that those have bears are belong the extremist Muslim. you have to know the difference between religious and fanatic. Muslim fanatic has waved war against the American .they called a holy war. they called war against infidel and American commander allow to have a bear .bear a symbol of haltered. . I will give another example. the major doctor who killed 15 soldiers. we allow them to stay in army We allow the invisible virus that damage the whole body.
In Response

by: I actually served from: Idaho
January 23, 2014 9:49 PM
Ever participate in the vietnam war? Soldiers, marines and sailors wore their religious medals along with peace buttons, love beads and many other non-authorized devices. No one got killed from reflections off these. Also, recon personnel took everything off before missions except their dog tags. Which by the way were shiny metal. But not being dumb military personnel, boot polish was used to darken them.
As far as beards go. The Navy is allowed to wear them at the commanding officers discretion. Take a look at the vaunted SEAL's. You will see many with beards. These arguments against the permission for religious icons-beards-longer hair are weak at best.
Navy-Marine Corp medical corpsman

by: Srg. Mayo from: USMC
January 23, 2014 6:23 PM
watching America disintegrate... first Iran... than this abomination...

by: Tony Strange from: Savannah Ga
January 23, 2014 4:28 PM
while in the service of the United States men and women should respect the rules that they are enlisted by. These rules are in place for a reason. if in a combat situation, reflection from a piece of plastic glass or other object could prove the downfall of an entire unit. long hair or long hair could prove to be in extreme hazard for the individual or others in his group. this selfishness could prove fatal for entire members of the unit.

by: DODO from: ABUJA
January 23, 2014 2:50 PM
A loud applause to the US for this thoughtful spiritual turn around. Every individual be it soldier, doctor, scientist, writer and even the two word sided politicians need to be closer to God in their everyday affairs. Religion bring us more closer to mortality and makes every human being comprehend that good always win over evil, and importantly make individual have respect for other peoples faiths.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs