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

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    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.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora