Tag Archives: kamaljeet singh kalsi

Sikhs Still Seeking Tolerance, Acceptance by US Military

sikhtrioDespite 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

Generals Call on US Military to Allow Sikhs to Serve

A coalition of 27 retired General officers signed a letter (PDF) urging the US Department of Defense to allow Sikhs to serve in the US military. Currently, Sikhs must abandon the articles of their faith — including uncut hair, beards, and turbans — before they can join the military:

Although Sikhs have served honorably in the U.S. military since World War I, restrictive appearance regulations adopted in 1981 created barriers to their service. Revisions earlier this year to DOD Instruction 1300.17 make it possible for service members to request religious accommodations; however, the new guidelines presumptively exclude Sikh articles of faith, forcing Sikhs to repeatedly apply for waivers and even violate their religion while an accommodation request is pending.

One of the notable signatures on the letter is Read more

NPR Questions Military Policy on Sikhs

In the face of a Supreme Court decision requiring an employer to accommodate a job seeker’s head scarf, NPR’s Tom Gjelten asks “Why Are Only Three Observant Sikh Men Serving In The U.S. Military?

“What I’m anticipating with this decision is that we will have a move in this country to recognize the right of individuals from different religious backgrounds to live in an America that does not discriminate against them on the basis of how they appear,” says Simran Jeet Singh, the senior religion fellow for the Sikh Coalition.

The article largely rehashes the story and one recent Read more

Sikhs Continue Calls for Military Service

While many continue to focus on promoting “sexual liberty” within the US military — primarily open service by homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, etc-sexuals — few have come to the aid of Sikhs who want to serve in the US military. (Sikhs wanting to serve in the US military have received more press in India than the US.)  Sikhs seek a waiver not for behavior, but for their religious beliefs. Kamal Singh Kalsi, a Sikh who obtained an exception to the uniform policy and was allowed to serve wearing a beard and turban, recently highlighted the inability of Sikhs to serve, as well as the increasing calls for the DoD to “fix” policies that prevent them from joining:

With the support of the advocacy group The Sikh Coalition, 105 members of the House of Representatives and 15 senators sent letters to the Department of Defense urging the U.S. armed forces to modernize appearance regulations so patriotic Sikh Americans can serve the country they love while abiding by their articles of faith.

The re-write earlier this year of religious accommodation regulations in the US military would presumably have made it easier for Sikhs to obtain an exception and join while wearing the accoutrements of their faith. However, Read more

Update: Responses to DoD Changes on Religion Rules

Update: J.B. Wells wonders aloud if the DoD intentionally produced the policy to change the religious freedom focus to turbans and beards while keeping “liberal constituencies” like Michael Weinstein “at bay.”

There have been a wide variety of responses to the US military’s update to DODI 1300.17 (accommodating religious freedom), with language that seems to imply a more open attitude toward outward display and expression of religious belief.

The Christian Post, like many sites, focused on the apparent ability to wear religious accoutrements:

The Pentagon reportedly decided to change its policy on religious wear after Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, a Sikh, spoke at a Congressional briefing about the challenges American Sikhs face in the military earlier in January. Kalsi told members of Congress that he believes he can effectively serve his country while still maintaining his religious appearance, including an uncut beard and a turban.

While that may or may not have been a factor, the DoDI clearly includes language from both the 2013 and 2014 National Defense Authorization Acts — that is, requirements levied by Congress, not just reconsideration based on serving Soldiers.

The US Navy appeared to try to quell Read more

The Interfaith US Military, According to the Huffington Post

The Huffington Post had a photo collection “celebrat[ing] the religious diversity of the military” on Veteran’s Day.  Their list:

Sikh Doctor Serves from Love of Country

A local article notes the service of Maj. Kamal Kalsi, a US Army doctor granted an exception to policy to allow the wear of a Sikh turban, beard, and other items specific to their faith.

He is one of three Sikh soldiers serving in the U.S. Army, and the only one at Fort Bragg.

Kalsi says he serves because of his love for the United States; his favorite holiday is even July 4th.

Despite the uniqueness of his faith in the Army, he says his similarities with his fellow Soldiers have “outweighed his differences:”  Read more

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