IN THE NEWS: An Army Captain and His Articles of Faith

Capt. Simratpal Singh won a temporary legal judgment in his quest to practice his Sikh religion by wearing a beard and a turban while serving in the U.S. Army. Capt. Singh is a West Point graduate and a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom who earned a Bronze Star for leading more than 150 patrols that cleared IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices] in Afghanistan.

U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell sided with Capt. Singh and issued a temporary restraining order to prevent the Department of Defense from imposing “any non-standard or discriminatory testing for his helmet and gas mask.” The Army had ordered Capt. Singh to take part in a three-day test of the fit of his helmet and gas maks with his turban and beard.

Capt. Singh, who immigrated from India when he was 9 years old, grew up in an observant Sikh family in the Seattle area. He did not shave or cut his hair until 2006 when he joined the Army. Last December, the Army had given Capt. Singh temporary religious accommodation; he has requested to make this permanent and allow him to continue to serve with his turban and beard.

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