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Pentagon religious items: Policy approved to seek prayer time, faith practices

Image of a religious cross hanging over a table
Image of a religious cross hanging over a tablePhoto File, Flickr Images

Pentagon religious items are trending this evening after a new policy was approved by the Pentagon that will affect thousands of military members. As part of the new procedures, military troops will have the opportunity to seek documented waivers that will allow them to wear a number of faith-oriented pieces, including spiritual clothing, the chance to seek prayer time, and ability to participate in open religious practices. The Star Tribune offers the details on this official decision to provide some more leniencies for our U.S. men and women who serve this Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014.

These Pentagon religious items are said to be specific to each faith and toward each individual. For example, Christian soldiers can wear cross necklaces more openly, Jewish troop members might appeal to wear a yarmulke, or certain Sikhs could request to wear a turban while in service. The new policy was formally approved in recent weeks, and is only taking official effect this Wednesday.

According to the press release, officials are not allowing these guidelines to act as a cover-all for any military troops — each waiver will be reviewed and then granted on a case-by-case basis. Government and defense authorities will be working together to determine whether a waiver may be given. Furthermore, approval of the request is also dependent upon the location of the service man or woman’s station while on duty, as well as whether the religious item would have a significant impact on their particular mission or overall military preparedness.

“Under the approved Pentagon 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. Until now there has been no consistent policy across the military services to allow accommodations for religion. Now, for instance, the growing of beards, the carrying of prayer beads, or requirements of daily prayer may be permitted with an accepted waiver.”

What is your opinion on this Pentagon religious items policy being approved? While some may feel that a more standard, non-faith look may be preferred in the military, others think that this small but significant form of self-expression is long overdue for both men and women serving the U.S. nation.

“If the waiver involves something that violates the service's policy governing troops' uniforms or appearance — including tattoos, beards and clothing — then the decision is made by a senior officer, most likely the three-star general in charge of personnel for each service. If it involves something else, such as prayer time, the decision can be made by a unit commander.”