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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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.
Signed,
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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs