Military Uniforms versus Religious Uniforms

WARNING: This post attempts to make a bit of humor over various religions’ garb requirements


When I joined the US Navy in 1983, sailors were still allowed to wear beards. However, with the military, prompted by the dictates of its Cold War Warrior Commander-in-Chief and President Ronald Reagan, in a fast-paced process of snapping out of its ragtag and drug-laden Vietnam War Police Conflict low-standards hangover, the navy outlawed full beards in 1984.

After which, many o’ Old Salts requested to Go Ashore permanently, as they would rather quit or retire from service than retire their beards.

I was just a young “Boot Camp” of a wog at the time who could barely grow even a little patch of peach fuzz let alone a full beard, but I still remember how passionate my Senior Chief was about keeping his beard.

And this passion of his and other bearded Old Salts like him was stirred simply over a style choice and tradition, so I can only imagine how one must feel about the importance of keeping one’s beard as a religious requirement, which is exactly the passion three enlisted servicemembers who are of the Sikh religion must be feeling right now as they petition the military for exemptions to be allowed to wear their religion-required beards and turbans.

 

If I remember correctly, I believe the primary reason the Navy gave for no longer allowing full beards was that they did not allow for the proper donning of gas masks, which created a health and military readiness risk. Another, and probably a more driving reason, was that beards did not allow for the professional military appearance that the Top Brass was striving for.

My position on this has evolved over the years, as it has on many social issues.

Now I’m like, meh… the military makes many exceptions for many situations so why not these?

For example, many servicemembers are allowed to wear beards under a doctor’s order. This is common when, typically a male, is prone to get in-grown hairs from having to shave his face so often.

And as for turbans and other religious requirements…

Now, I’ll admit, all the various grooming and wardrobe requirements that all our various religions place upon us is, in my opinion…

Stoopid.

I mean, c’mon. All the goofy hats the Pope wears (hence the sarcastic saying in response to a obvious/stoopid question: Does the Pope wear a goofy hat?) is enough to outfit a circus show, not to mention all the goofy hats all the other religious leaders and religious wannabes insist on wearing.

CLICK THE IMAGE FOR ATTRIBUTION









Obviously I’m a bit skeptical about any religion that requires one to dress a certain way in order worship its god, so obviously I sympathize with the military and its position of restraint when allowing exemptions for, what I’m sure are way too many, all of the various religions’ various garb requirements and impositions.

Besides, the military, and especially the navy, is doing just fine with all its goofy hat requirements, as is evidenced by the hat that young “Boot Camp” of a wog who can barely grow even a patch of peach fuzz for a beard is wearing in that ancient picture on found on the sidebar…

However, as our nation is, and is quickly becoming much more, diverse, I can foresee it becoming harder and harder for the military to not allow for more and more exemptions in the future.

Besides, doesn’t this Royal Air Force officer look striking and professional in his militarily accommodating military garb?

Sikh Royal Air Force Officer / Wikimedia Commons


 

HAVE YOU SEEN THIS?

 
 

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12 Replies to “Military Uniforms versus Religious Uniforms”

  1. Mixed feelings here – on the one hand, freedom to follow one’s religious dictates…I get it. Cool. Freedom to be me and all that. By that same token, you knew what the dress code was before you decided to join the military so why are you asking for an exception now?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yours is probably the typical servicemember’s thought on the issue, as well. Although, we know that some rules and laws deserve to be broken/changed and the military has often been in the forefront of doing so: racial integration; ending DADT, now women authorized in all combat roles.

      It’s funny, we join the military to protect our “American Way” of life, yet , when we do, we lose many of the freedoms we wish to protect.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I hadnt thought about your last point…the losing freedoms you’re fighting to protect…wow. Going to bring that up with the honey as he just retired after 20yrs in the military. I enjoy getting his take on such things. Great conversation starter.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember that great debate, being a Navy Brat who was just old enough to be dating the squiddly diddlies of base. OMG! it got people hot under the collar. I had a friend who did get a doctor’s order to keep his beard because he would get all kinds of ingrown hairs whenever he shaved. Other than that, not being in the Navy myself, nor having to shave my face… it didn’t affect me much. ^_^

    Like

  3. Being a former “ol salt” myself, I have to chime in that when one joins the military, they agree to BE uniform, not just IN uniform. We (military people) give up some of our rights to protect others. We know it going in.

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  4. Our “Garb” has always indicated status and position, allegiance or tribe since we began walking upright. Maybe a day will come when these superfluous accouterments are no longer needed.
    Until then, religion isn’t legitimate unless a silly hat is worn.

    Liked by 1 person

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