Posted on April 19, 2022

Sikh Captain and Recruits Sue Marine Corps Over Restrictions on Religious Articles

Sakshi Venkatraman, NBC News, April 12, 2022

Four Sikh Marines are suing the Defense Department and the Marine Corps over restrictions that would keep them from donning religious articles during deployments abroad and at boot camp.

For Capt. Sukhbir Singh Toor, who has served in the Marines since 2017, the move has been over a year in the making. After Toor submitted a request in March 2021 asking the corps to let him keep his beard, long hair and turban, he was granted historic accommodations. But while he’s allowed to have the articles of faith on duty in the U.S., there are still restrictions when it comes to service overseas and in the training of new recruits.


The Marine Corps argues that having beards during combat would inhibit functioning and that in boot camp, it would take away the sense of uniformity the Marines try to foster in new recruits. {snip}


“Treating a Sikh’s beard, a core tenet of the faith, as merely optional is unacceptable,” Giselle Klapper, a senior staff attorney for the Sikh Coalition, said in the statement. “It is time for the USMC to recognize what the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and armed forces around the world already know: Articles of faith do not preclude Sikhs from capable military service.”