Pentagon Passes Policy to Allow Soldiers to Request Wearing Turbans, Scarves and Other Religious Clothing While in Uniform
By Mel Fabrikant Monday, January 27, 2014, 05:54 PM EST
American Family Association Says Christians in Military Should be Protected in Same Way
In an unconventional move last week, the Pentagon approved a new policy that will allow soldiers greater latitude to wear turbans, head scarves, yarmulkes and other religious clothing with their uniforms, as well as seek prayer time or engage in religious practices while serving in branches of the U.S. military.
According to OneNewsNow.com, the news service of the one-million-voice-strong American Family Association (AFA,www.afa.net), the new policy that took effect Wednesday will allow, for example, Jewish troops to seek waivers to wear a yarmulke or Sikhs to seek waivers to wear a turban and grow a beard. Defense officials say troops must ask for permission and that waivers will be decided on a case-by-case basis, depending on where the service member is stationed and whether the change would affect military readiness or the mission.
American Family Association’s newly named Director of Governmental Affairs Sandy Rios weighed in on the topic, stating, “At first glance, this may seem like good news to those concerned about recent threats against Christian expressions of faith in the military. But there are red flags here that make us concerned that this is likely another deceptive move with an ultimate agenda to accommodate Muslims. The Department of Defense gave us a preview of this not long ago when Major Nidal Hassan, the Ft. Hood mass murderer, was allowed, against military regulations, to keep his beard while on trial to express his Muslim faith.”
Under the new policy, a request can only be denied if it is determined that the needs of the military mission outweigh the needs of the service member. The new policy also states that “In so far as practicable, a Service member’s expression of sincerely held beliefs (conscience, moral principles or religious beliefs) may not be used as the basis of any adverse personnel action, discrimination, or denial of promotion, schooling, training or assignment.”
“These kinds of regulations,” continued Rios, a longtime Fox News contributor and the host of the Washington, D.C.-based morning drive radio talk show that airs on the American Family Radio Network (www.afa.net/radio), “have the potential to affect the good order and discipline of the American military. It is important that American soldiers work and be identified as one—not as a separate body of bearded and non-bearded, pierced and non-pierced mercenaries. That’s why we have an American uniform with strict regulations.”
Added AFA President Tim Wildmon, “In the past year, we have seen a clear crackdown on the Christian faith from the military and our government. The military is not protecting Christians, our religious liberties or our chaplains, yet policies are making room for other religions, specifically Sikhs and Muslims, with no indication that these privileges will extend to Christians. At the minimum, what we ought to expect from the military is equal treatment and respect for Christian religious liberties, too.”
Wildmon said that the U.S. military is, rightly so, committed to discipline. Without it, there is chaos and a loss of cohesion among troops. These disciplines and rules, such as the same uniform and a standard haircut, have been enforced so that everyone in battle is equal.
“Now the military is relinquishing discipline at the risk of safety,” Wildmon added. “Cohesion and discipline are at risk of being lost, and rules shouldn’t be changed for politically correct reasons. We don’t oppose a soldier reading the Quran in his bunk, but Christians should be able to read the Bible as well, and in some cases, military chaplains have been stripped of this freedom.
“American Family Association is a staunch supporter of members of the U.S. military and their families,” he continued. “Many of our constituents and supporters have served in the military, and soldiers and their families look to AFA for information, support and a voice. We just want Christianity to be protected in our military ranks, too.”
For more information on American Family Association, visit www.afa.net.