A US Army soldier may have set a trend for a spike in Norse pagan religious beliefs in the Army after he was authorized a beard for “religious purposes.”
A Military Policeman of the 795th Military Police Battalion was granted to grow a beard in accordance with his “heathen” faith, written in black and white by his commander.
“I grant your accommodation, subject to the standards and limitations described below,” commander Col. Curtis Shroeder wrote to a 795th Military Police Battalion soldier. “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.”
The current “religious exemption” beard regulation requires beards to be just shy of two inches in length and free of any grooming products that are petroleum-based.
In contrast to the mandated facial hair of Sikh culture, heathens are allowed to wear beards (and frequently do so by way of tradition), but there is no religious requirement for them.
“There is no religious requirement for beards in Heathenry,” according to a 2017 post about beards posted by the Open Halls Project, a military heathen advocacy group. “Sikhs are allowed to wear beards and turbans because it actually is a religious requirement of their faith that they do so. Kesh, or ‘uncut hair’ is one of the five religious requirements of baptized Sikhs. We, as Heathens, have no such religious requirement with regards to hair.”
According to the Army Times, the Hammer of Thor -a symbol of Norse Pagan faith- has been permitted for government headstones of deceased servicemembers since 2013.
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