published Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

New DOD waiver policy for religious observances

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has approved a new policy that will allow troops to seek waivers to wear religious clothing, seek prayer time or engage in religious practices.

Defense officials say the waivers will be decided on a case-by-case basis and will depend on where the service member is stationed and whether the change would affect military readiness or the mission.

Until now there has been no consistent policy across the military to allow accommodations for religion. Now, for example, Jewish troops can seek a waiver to wear a yarmulke, or Sikhs can seek waivers to wear a turban and grow a beard.

Others can request specific prayer times or ask that they be allowed to carry prayer beads or other items.

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