WASHINGTON POST – Land of the Free, Home of the Beards?

Selected Article Excerpts:

  • The U.S. Armed Forces are moving in the right direction. According to news reports late last week, the Army will allow Menachem Stern—an orthodox Jewish Rabbi—to attend military chaplaincy training without shaving his religiously-mandated beard. Although significant barriers remain in place for religious minorities wishing to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, the Army’s acceptance of Rabbi Stern is a positive development.
  • And it is welcome news to the Sikh community. In April 2009, more than 60 years after President Harry Truman issued an executive order promising equal opportunity “for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin,” Sikh Americans challenged restrictive Army appearance regulations (adopted during the Reagan administration) that effectively prohibited turbaned, bearded Sikhs from serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Generation after generation, inspired by their religious faith and martial heritage, Sikhs have served in the U.S. Army since World War I; sacrificed their lives by the thousands for the Allies during both World Wars…
  • Despite this long history of military distinction, Sikhs in the United States still cannot presumptively serve in the U.S. Armed Forces without giving up the religious articles that have historically inspired them to achieve martial excellence…

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