US Military Allows Norse Pagan To Wear Beard For Religious Reasons
In a world where a disproportionately large amount of people list Jedi as their religion, I'm ready to believe anything about people's personal beliefs.
I'm open-minded like that: if you want to be a Jedi or a Pastafarian or whatever, then go for it.
Amazingly, it seems that the United States military agrees with me, having allowed a soldier to wear a full face beard as he claims that it is a requirement of his Norse pagan faith, reports BroBible.
The man, who has not been named, argued that while beards are not a strict necessity for Norse pagans, they are heavily encouraged and he should be considered in a similar light to Sikhs, who are exempted from the usual shaving regulations on account of their religion.
His commanding officer, Col. Curtis Shroedero, agreed with him.
"I grant your accommodation, subject to the standards and limitations described below," he wrote in a statement.
"In observance of your Heathen; Norse Pagan faith, you may wear a beard, in accordance with Army uniform and grooming standards for soldiers with approved religious accommodations."
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Beards have been largely banned in the US military for years as they have the potential to interfere with gas masks and other military equipment.
They are occasionally allowed: for example, when on tours of duty in parts of the world where beard-wearing is common, such as the Middle East, soldiers have occasionally been allowed to let their facial hair grow long.
The news comes as a contrast to previous statements from military heathens. Back in 2017, Open Halls, the organisation for heathens serving in the US military, released a statement that clarified their views on facial hair.
"There is no religious requirement for beards in Heathenry," they wrote.
"Sikhs are allowed to wear beards and turbans because it actually is a religious requirement of their faith that they do so. Kesh, or 'uncut hair' is one of the five religious requirements of baptized Sikhs. We, as Heathens, have no such religious requirement with regards to hair."
Still, the military says they can do it anyway, in line with regulations changed in 2015 to reflect the diversity of the American armed forces.
"The Army has reviewed its policies to ensure we allow every opportunity for qualified soldiers to serve, regardless of their faith background," said Lt. Col. Randy Taylor when the regulations were altered to help Sikhs and other religious minorities.
"We believe in preserving the First Amendment right of free exercise of religion for those who want to serve in the US Army."
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