"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with
power to endanger the public liberty." - - - - John Adams

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Sikh wins right to wear beard and turban in ROTC

Beards were common and approved of in the Civil War.

In Defense of Beards
If someone wants to serve and perhaps die for his country 
then him having a beard and a turban is fine with me.

(McClatchy News)  -  A Sikh college student and aspiring Army officer at Hofstra University has the right to wear his beard and turban in ROTC, a federal judge has ruled.

In this latest conflict pitting military discipline against religious liberty, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson concluded the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protected Iknoor Singh’s rights to follow the dictates of his religion.

Iknoor Singh
“Given the tens of thousands of exceptions the Army has already made to its grooming and uniform policies, its successful accommodation of observant Sikhs in the past, and the fact that, at this time, (Singh) is seeking only to enroll in the ROTC program, the Army’s refusal to permit him to do so while adhering to his faith cannot survive the strict scrutiny that RFRA demands,” Jackson wrote.

In her 49-page decision handed down Friday, Jackson called the result a “temporary accommodation” and noted that admitting Singh to ROTC “would not require the Army to guarantee him a commission.”

“The ruling in Iknoor Singh’s case -- which recognizes recent trends in the Supreme Court -- should be another wake up call for the Pentagon. No one should have to choose between their faith and service to their country,” the Sikh Coalition’s Senior Staff Attorney, Gurjot Kaur, said in a statement.

A rising junior at Hofstra, Singh does not cut his beard or hair, and he tucks his hair under a turban. He believes that if he cut his hair, shaved his beard, or abandoned his turban, Jackson noted, he would be “dishonoring and offending God.” He wants to serve in Army intelligence, but the ROTC officials say he must first abide by their grooming standards.

Singh sued with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union and United Sikhs. The timing turned out to be propitious, as the Supreme Court in January unanimously ruled, in a case cited by 17 times by Jackson, that RFRA meant an Arkansas prison inmate could grow a beard for religious reasons.

“There is ample undisputed evidence that soldiers in all corners of the Army are permitted to maintain beards and to wear religious headgear while in uniform, as well as to deviate from the grooming standards in other ways,” Jackson wrote, adding that “the Army has allowed several Sikhs to serve...with accommodations for their turbans, beards, and unshorn hair.”

“When held up to the light, the Army’s reasons for denying Mr. Singh’s religious accommodation crumbled,” Heather Weaver, Senior Staff Attorney in the ACLU’s Program on the Freedom of Religion and Belief, said in a statement.

Read More . . . .

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/06/15/269907/sikh-wins-right-to-wear-beard.html#storylink=cpy
US Army Captain Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi poses in Times Square, New York, on September 14, 2010 , wearing his US Army ACU Digital Camouflage turban along with his ACU uniform. Kalsi, who is the first Sikh in the US Army, is an emergency room doctor and emergency medical services (EMS) Director stationed at Ft. Bragg. In what appears to be a quiet shift, the US military since last year has allowed Sikhs to serve while retaining their turbans and beards, which are required by their faith.

A U.S. Soldier in Afghanistan.
Why not Beards?
Shaving - Why would you deliberately want
to look like a 12 year old boy?

Sikhs have proudly served in the Army of India without any problems.
The U.S. generals need to grow up.


cl said...

I fought a battle (with Texaco) over a beard because of a Scott air-pack requirement (which we did not use, but they thought we needed trained for). In my defense, I noted the Sikh's in WW1 had beards and with non-pressurized gas-masks fought like demons and had no problems with "leakage" (and Scott air packs pressurize the masks)...
Has nothing to do with "safety" has everything to do with "control"

Gary said...

CONTROL. You are dead on.