The battle for beards in the military continues, this time taking a serious blow on the part of “religious freedom.”
Since the US Army began allowing Sikh soldiers to sport beards in 2017 due to their religious practices, the push to use religion to skip shaving hit a second home run the following year, when a “Norse Pagan” soldier was granted the ability to grow facial hair.
“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,” Col. Curtis Shroeder wrote in an authorization order.
The third time, however, was not the charm.
According to the Army Times, Spc. John Hoskins applied for a beard exemption earlier this year in regards to his devotion to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a meme-based faith also known as “Pastafarianism.”
Needless to say, it didn’t go well.
Pastafarianism began around 2005, when a physics graduate challenged the Kansas State Board of Education by demanding that all faiths should be taught if the state was willing to push “intelligent design.”
This would include lessons featuring a universe-creating, invisible spaghetti monster.
When he didn’t get the answer he wanted, he posted the document online, which became a meme and eventually turned into a religion..of sorts.
Hoskins made (at least) one critical error when choosing his religion- Pastafarianism does not require beards.
Still, the Army is playing the matter with all seriousness.
“The Army takes pride in sustaining a culture where all personnel are treated with dignity and respect and not discriminated against based on race, color, religion, gender and national origin,” Army spokeswoman Cathy Brown Vandermaarel said of the request denial. “While we cannot speak to the specifics of any particular case, religious accommodation can be disapproved if it is determined that the request is not based on a sincerely held religious belief or if the accommodation would create a specific hazard that cannot be reasonably mitigated.”