Multiple Religious Freedom Groups Call Military Policy Insufficient
A strikingly broad-swath of religious liberty groups has written a letter (PDF) the office of the Secretary of Defense contending the military’s recent religious accommodation policy “change” doesn’t go far enough. In one point they make:
Even if an original accommodation request is approved, religiously observant service members would be required to submit a new request for the same accommodation every time they receive a new assignment…
In other words, a Soldier allowed to have a beard for religious reasons would have to re-apply with every assignment change for a continuing accommodation — and could conceivably have to shave in the interim.
The letter was signed by groups as diverse as the ACLU, ADL, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the Becket Fund, Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, and the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy, among others — some of whom oppose each other more often than join forces.
The letter did not address other concerns about the military policy in the new DODI 1300.17 — such as the accusation the clothing accommodations were a ‘red herring‘ with respect to the absence of explicit protections for speech and expression — which was the “primary intent” of the legislation behind the policy change.
Significantly, despite the importance of this issue to the religious liberty of US troops, the self-appointed “only organization dedicated solely to the protection of the religious freedoms…of ALL members of the US military,” Mikey Weinstein’s MRFF, is notably absent.