Diversity in the US Military, and the Right Priorities

In an interesting piece at Military.com, US Navy PO2 Guldeep “Geena” Kaur Sidhu describes what it’s like to be a Sikh woman serving in the US military, noting:

In today’s politically charged and increasingly globalized world, it’s more important than ever to be open to the beliefs and cultures of those around you.

Kaur notes there is virtue in promoting and highlighting religious liberty and the values of religious belief:

I believe that it will lead us to greater unity. By better understanding the identities of our brothers and sisters in arms, we can become closer as a unified force. I hope that the changes brought about by this new directive will serve to educate my fellow service members on the Sikh religion, and how closely it aligns with the American values we’re fighting for day in and day out.

As has been noted in the past, there has been an interesting contrast between the government/military treatment of religious freedom and its treatment of sexual freedom. For example, over the past year, the issue of “transgender” service in the military has dominated — the issue of having a “right” to serve while requiring medical diagnoses of a mental disconnect between physical biology and personal feelings. Even now there are debates in Congress and in the halls of the Pentagon about the changes necessary to accommodate sexually-confused individuals — or whether such changes are even possible without hindering the military mission.

Yet almost nothing has been said about Sikhs, Jews, or Muslims in the US military who want to serve while adhering to the articles of their faith, something that requires no physical, logistical, or other changes to the way the military executes. While activists point out a person describing themselves as transgender cannot enlist in the US military, neither can a man who adheres to the traditional tenets of the Sikh faith like wearing a turban.¬† The Army (not the DoD)¬†even changed its policies — in theory — to prioritize the accommodation of religious faith. Yet questions remain about whether religious liberty is, indeed, protected in the military — particularly in the face of those more vociferous claims of sexual freedom.

PO2 Kaur’s ability to serve as a Sikh in the US military is admirable. That her religious rights — and the religious rights of her fellow troops — are seemingly less valued than the sexual behaviors of others is not.