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 VOA Exclusive: Poroshenko Wants Russia's UN Veto Stripped

Ukrainian president tells VOA's Myroslava Gongadze that global community would be safer if Russia's ability to play spoiler were ended More

Crime and Espionage Becoming Tangled Online

As the lines between cyber-crime and espionage blur, fighting hackers becomes harder More

Crowdfunding Helps Save Neil Armstrong's Spacesuit

Smithsonian turns to Kickstarter to raise more than $700,000 to help preserve the spacesuit worn by the first man to walk on the moon 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.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs