As has now been widely reported, US Army SPC Cesilia Valdovinos — who converted to Islam in March 2016 — has claimed discrimination over her wear of the hijab, for which she was granted a religious accommodation just last summer. According to Valdovinos, a senior enlisted leader required her to remove her hijab to prove her hair was being correctly worn underneath it. (While the accommodation was granted, she is still required to maintain certain standards, even under the hijab.) The reason for the “inspection” was the belief her hair was not properly maintained while under her hijab, as was required. When she removed the hijab, her hair was, indeed, down — though Valdovinos says it was because it was held up by the hijab itself. Valdovinos apparently found this exchange inappropriate and filed an EO complaint.
There are aspects to this story on both sides that Read more
In an official article, the US Navy announced that Navy LT Jennifer Johnson was awarded status as one of the “best LGBT lawyers under 40” by the National LGBT Bar Association:
The association established the award to recognize legal professionals under the age of 40 who distinguished themselves in their field and advocated LGBT equality.
A previous release from the Navy (and the award website) indicates Navy LT Paul Wagoner was similarly recognized. Fortunately, there does not appear to be an organization that only recognizes lawyers who have heterosexual sex, nor does the Navy appear to highlight such JAGs.
Johnson’s public recognition by the US military is supremely ironic, given Read more
In an act that almost amounted to a display of principle, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s MRFF finally spoke out against US Air Force MSgts Laura and Mark Magee — both Muslim service members. The Magees were the focus of a “Through Airmen’s Eyes” article put out by the Air Force early last week which highlighted their faith. The article was entitled “Nevada ANG chaplain [sic]: ‘I want people to know Islam is not evil’“. (The title should have said “…chaplain’s assistant,” not “chaplain”.)
Weinstein’s group put out a statement saying [emphasis added]:
MRFF objects to it just as strongly as it has to the many articles published by the Air Force highlighting the faith of Christian airmen [sic]…
The MRFF complaint gives only a single example that it says violates Air Force regulations, citing the article which quoted MSgt Mark Magee saying: Read more
Military troops of faith — Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and others — have long served in the US military. They have done so with honor and distinction, earning the highest accolades and making the highest sacrifices.
And former Army officer Sue Fulton thinks they shouldn’t be allowed to serve in the military at all.
As discussed by Sonny Hernandez, in an interview with the New York Times Fulton was aghast that military chaplains have the gall to claim their God is greater than their government — and they should therefore not be in the military:
Some chaplains argue: ‘My first responsibility is to God.’ Well, if your responsibility is to God and not the Army, you need to get out of the Army.
Hernandez accurately summarized Fulton’s intolerant and ultimately unconstitutional advocacy:
[When] Fulton argues that chaplains should get out of the military if God is first in their lives, she is establishing a religion over theirs…She is [saying] the Constitution only works one way, and that the Defense Department’s policy on pluralism is extended only to those with convictions are agreeable to hers.
Fulton’s declaration is utterly ridiculous — and bigoted. Millions of troops before Read more
The US Army has changed its policies (PDF) to allow Sikhs, Muslims, and Jews to serve while wearing their religious accoutrements in uniform [emphasis added]:
Since 2009, religious accommodation requests requiring a waiver for uniform wear and grooming have largely fallen into one of three faith practices: the wear of a hijab; the wear of a beard; and the wear of a turban or under-turban/patka, with uncut beard and uncut hair. Based on the successful examples of Soldiers currently serving with these accommodations, I have determined that brigade-level commanders may approve requests for these accommodations…
Importantly, the policy specifically says the religious practice should be approved Read more
Update: New articles identify the student as Sana Hamze.
Update: Norwich University in Vermont has reportedly granted the same unnamed applicant the right to wear a hijab in her uniform. CAIR implies the student may yet take legal action against the Citadel. Alumni from Norwich reacted similarly to those at the Citadel, with at least one noting Norwich has a civilian program for those who do not wish to adhere to the rules of the military corps of cadets.
The Citadel, “The Military College of South Carolina,” has denied a request for a waiver from an incoming cadet to wear a hijab with her cadet uniform, among other exceptions. From the President of The Citadel, retired LtGen John Rosa:
The Citadel has relied upon a highly effective educational model requiring all cadets to adopt a common uniform. Uniformity is the cornerstone of this four-year leader development model. The standardization of cadets in apparel, overall appearance, actions and privileges is essential to the learning goals and objectives of the college. This process reflects an initial relinquishing of self during which cadets learn the value of teamwork to function as a single unit…
The Citadel recognizes the importance of a cadet’s spiritual and religious beliefs, providing services for specific needs whenever possible…
The prospective cadet, who had already Read more
For the first time in its history, The Citadel is considering a request for a uniform exception that would allow a cadet to keep a religious accoutrement. Interestingly, the request came from a female (and females were only allowed in The Citadel at all starting in 1995).
The Citadel is considering a request from an admitted student that she be allowed to wear a hijab in keeping with her Muslim faith, a move that would be an unprecedented exception to the school’s longstanding uniform requirements.
The Citadel is not the US military, nor is it a state actor — but it does receive state money. That Read more
Writing at The Intercept, Murtaza Hussain took issue with a “US military white paper [describing] wearing hijab as ‘passive terrorism’.”
A policy paper issued by the Air Force Research Laboratory, titled Countering Violent Extremism: Scientific Methods & Strategies, includes a chapter setting forth controversial and unsubstantiated theories of radicalization, including the idea that support for militant groups is driven by “sexual deprivation” and that headscarves worn by Muslim women represent a form of “passive terrorism.”
In the interest of accuracy, it is worth noting the publication was not an Air Force policy paper, and it included the disclaimer that the views were expressly only the authors’.
It is also not unusual for the US military to publish academic Read more