The US has allowed career-long religious accommodation for Sikhs to serve in the armed forces while maintaining their articles of faith like the turban and beard.
“We are a stronger nation, and a stronger military, because of our respect for religious and personal freedom, and I’m pleased to see the US Army once again recognise this with its new directive,” Congressman Joe Crowley, who had spearheaded the campaign on behalf of Sikh Americans, said in a statement.
“Sikh Americans love this country and want a fair chance to serve in our nation’s military on equal footing. I believe we should embrace this wish for religious freedom, not place restrictions on it,” he said.
Crowley said he looks forward to reviewing this directive carefully, though it initially seems like a step forward in the right direction.
Until now, Sikhs and others must be granted a permission to serve in the US Army while maintaining their articles of faith.
Such accommodations are neither permanent nor guaranteed, and had to be renewed after virtually every assignment.
They are also required to remove their articles of faith while their accommodation request is pending, once again subjecting them to the difficult position of choosing between their faith and their job.