There Is No Fine Line Between Religious Freedom and Religious Exceptions

A few of the proudest years of my life are the four years I spent serving this great nation by being an active member of the United States Air Force. One of the first things I learned when I went to basic training was how to wear the ‘uniform.’ We were taught to all wear it the same way because we were giving up the individual aspects of our lives and becoming members of the ultimate team, the United States Armed Services. Everything about me and my fellow enlistee’s lives became ‘uniform.’ We even were taught the ‘Uniform’ Code of Military Justice for crying out loud. Everything about the military was supposed to be ‘uniform.’ So why now are we granting special privileges to people who want to represent their religion while in ‘uniform?’ The very title of the dress that military members wear loses its whole meaning when these types of things are allowed.

Let me go on record as stating that I have nothing against any religion whatsoever and even though I may not agree with any other religions way of thinking, I will defend an individual’s right to practice it with the best of them. This great country of ours was partially founded by people seeking religious freedom and there is no reason why religious freedom shouldn’t be a mainstay of our society in this day and age either. With that being said, never in my time in the military did I ask for or receive any special privileges to alter my uniform for the sake of representing my Roman Catholic religion openly. This fact did not hinder my ability to practice my faith nor did it significantly run contrary to my religious beliefs.

SoldiersI recently read a story that mentioned that the Citadel, one of the oldest and most respected military academies in the USA, was thinking about making changes to their dress code to accommodate a Muslim female member. It made me think back to the story I read about Captain Simratpal Singh, a decorated Army Ranger who was granted permission to represent his devout Sikh faith while in uniform by being granted permission to grow a beard and wear the Sikh faith’s traditional turban. I respect Captain Singh’s religion and I personally salute him for his courage and military service, but I also strongly disagree with this decision and the message it sends about being individuals to our troops who are taught from day one that everything should be ‘uniform.’

Here is perhaps the point I don’t get the most. The last time I checked, we had an all “volunteer” military. Before you sign on the dotted line and swear an oath to defend the country, you are well aware of what you are getting yourself into. Part of that is how you will dress and wear your ‘uniform’ and become a member of a team; in order to do that, you definitely have to give up some individual preferences. If you don’t like the way the military rules state things should be done, then simply choose to do something else in life.

What would happen if it was against someone’s religion to get their hair cut before basic training or to say the words that are in this nation’s oath of service due to religious beliefs (don’t even get me started on the pledge of allegiance and people’s rights not to say it in a school where they accepted a free education from the very country whose pledge they refuse to say)? I am also wondering if maybe goats being sacrificed on stone altars will become commonplace on many military bases in the near future; yes that is an exaggeration but it is an exaggeration to emphasize a point as to why making one exception opens the military up to a whole bunch of other ones. It’s time to stop being so sensitive when it comes to religion and to keep everything about the military ‘uniform’ like the very way it was meant to be from the start.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Craig Smith

Craig has been writing for several years but just recently made freelance writing a full time profession after leaving behind 26 years working in the swimming pool construction industry. He served four years in the US Air Force as an Imagery Interpreter Specialist in Okinawa, Japan and at SAC Headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. As a staunch supporter of law enforcement personnel, emergency medical technicians, firemen, search and rescue personnel and those who serve in the military, Craig is proud to contribute to the US Patriot blog on their behalf.
Craig Smith
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