In a recent article the Air Force indicated that despite the recent publicity of Airmen and other military members being granted waivers to grow religious beards, there hasn’t been a marked increase in the requests:
The Air Force, citing privacy concerns, declined to identify how many airmen have obtained waivers based on religious exemptions but said the publicity surrounding approvals in recent years has not caused an increase in waiver requests.
The article also revealed that despite the publicity surrounding the “heathen” beard approval for SSgt Garrett Sopchak, he was actually the second Airman to get one for “norse heathenism”, after SSgt William Bailey in March.
The policy changes that have supported Read more
The Air Force Times reports on Air Force SSgt Garrett Sopchak, who just became the first US Air Force Airman to be allowed to wear a beard — because he adheres to Norse Heathen religious beliefs.
The Army granted a similar waiver last year, and beard exemptions have been granted for a growing number of Sikhs and Muslims — though not atheists.
Sopchak, a 28-year-old aerospace ground equipment craftsman at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, on July 8 become the first airman to get approval to wear a beard in accordance with his Heathen faith.
Sopchak said in a Tuesday interview that in the old sagas, a beard was Read more
Update: Now widely covered at various sites, though they don’t name US Army Soldier Austin Harasti.
The Army Times reports that a Soldier at the 14th Military Police Brigade at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, has been granted a religious accommodation to wear a beard — because he is a “Norse pagan.” From Col Curtis Shroeder’s memo to the 795th Military Police Battalion Soldier [emphasis added]:
“In observance of your Heathen; Norse Pagan faith, you may wear a beard, in accordance with Army uniform and grooming standards for soldiers with approved religious accommodations.”
Interestingly, there is no tenet of “Norse pagan faith” that requires a beard, as a heathen-advocacy site pointed out. As quoted in the article:
According to the Open Halls Project, an advocacy group for heathens serving in the military, the beard is a beloved tradition, but not a requirement.
“There is no religious requirement for beards in Heathenry,” according to a 2017 post about beards. “…We, as Heathens, have no such religious requirement with regards to hair.”
In essence, this is the same as a Christian seeking a waiver for a beard because Jesus had one. That said, Army policy is to, by default, grant the accommodation so long as Read more
The US Navy routinely performs burials at sea for qualified veterans, ceremonies that follow religious traditions despite the complaints of some who see a collusion between religion and the military.
The US Coast Guard recently performed a ceremony for World War II veteran Andrew Haines, and it honored his request as well — for what the Navy Times called a “Viking funeral“:
Haines…wanted a burial at sea…. On Sept. 29, the Station Atlantic City Coast Guard conducted the burial about three miles off the coast of New Jersey.
[The] handcrafted wooden Norse-style vessel…was lowered into a recess on the Coast Guard ship, where the shavings inside the boat were lighted with a flare and pushed out to sea.
Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Christopher Fonseca, the unit’s operations officer, Read more