In an interesting deviation from its prior statements on accommodating religion, the US Military Academy at West Point has apparently required two observant Sikh cadets to wear their ceremonial uniform cover — known as the “tar bucket” — “over or in place of” their turban. The cadets, Gurijuwan Singh Chahal and Arjan Singh Ghotra, maintain this “would desecrate their religious values” and have filed a lawsuit in response:
“Forcing New Cadet Chahal and New Cadet Ghotra to choose between their country and their God in this manner violates the Army’s own regulations, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, and the First and Fifth Amendments to the United States Constitution,” the complaint states.
(Arjan Singh Ghotra previously enlisted Read more
Despite claims by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter that tolerance is “a practical necessity” in the US military — and that nothing unrelated to someone’s qualifications should prevent them from serving — people who are prevented from serving for reasons other than sexuality aren’t reaping the fruits of that newfound practical “tolerance.”
Maj. Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi was recently in the news — and at the Democratic National Convention — highlighting the continued fight for Sikhs to gain Read more
Update: Follow up on Harpal Singh and the status of Capt Singh’s case here.
The US Army has decided to permit three more Sikh adherents to attend Basic Training while maintaining the articles of their faith:
“After months of waiting, I’m ecstatic that I can finally serve both God and country,” Private Arjan Singh Ghotra, one of the plaintiffs, said…
Religious accommodations were also granted to Specialist Kanwar Singh [and]Specialist Harpal Singh.
While the exceptions are notable, they are still precisely that: exceptions. Thus, the US Army is still not officially more “friendly” to service by Sikhs, a point Read more
The US Army extended its religious accommodation of Capt Simratpal Singh, a Soldier who had decided to return to his Sikh practices and had sued after the Army tried to subject him to additional testing not required of other Soldiers.
The response from the Army (PDF) is intended to moot the suit. The accommodation allowing Singh to wear his religious accoutrements is open-ended, but it is heavily qualified with the Army’s caveats that it might remove the accommodation at any time. Perhaps more importantly: Read more