January 23, 2014 (Washington, DC) – Yesterday, partly in response to pressure from the Sikh Coalition, the Pentagon issued new rules
governing religious liberty in the U.S. military. While the policy revisions provide a framework through which Sikh Soldiers may continue to seek religious accommodations, we caution that uniform rules restricting Sikh articles of faith remain intact
The Sikh Coalition is deeply appreciative that the Pentagon expressed a new openness yesterday to accepting requests for accommodation by all Soldiers of faith. We are disappointed, however, that the presumptive ban on Sikh articles of faith remains intact. To be clear, despite yesterday’s announcement, Sikh Americans must still go through a lengthy and uncertain administrative process before being approved to serve in the military with their religiously-mandated turbans and beards; further, approvals are not guaranteed.
We will continue to respectfully work with our Nation’s military leadership to improve these regulations and promote the rights that our brave Soldiers are working to protect. We will also continue to advocate for our military to implement regulations that specifically allow turbaned and bearded Sikhs to serve and also recognize that Sikh religious practices are fully compatible with military readiness, unit cohesion, good order, discipline, health, and safety. Sikh Soldiers already receive such recognition by armed forces around the world, including in Canada
and the U.K
You Can Help
Since 2009, three Sikh Coalition clients—Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, Captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan, and Corporal Simran Preet Singh Lamba—have received rare and historic accommodations to serve in the U.S. Army with their articles of faith intact. These Soldiers have won awards and promotions and courageously proved that Sikhs can make great Soldiers without abandoning their faith.
Now we must support them by expanding opportunities for all Sikh Americans who wish to serve their nation.
Click here to sign a petition to President Obama
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The presumptive ban on Sikh articles of faith in the U.S. military is one of the last institutional barriers to religious liberty for Sikhs in the United States. Your petitions
will make a difference.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges all Sikhs to practice their faith fearlessly.