Army grants Christian exemption to grow beard, citing religious beliefs

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A US Army sergeant became one of the first known Christian service members are given the green light to grow out his hair and beard for religious purposes.

“Consistent with your Christian faith, you may wear uncut hair in accordance with Army uniform and grooming standards as set out in Army Regulation (AR) 670-1,” the sergeant said. Jacob DiPietro of Lt. Gen. Gary M. Brito, the Army’s chief of staff, said July 25.

“You can grow your hair in accordance with the standards for long hair set out in AR 670-1.”

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DiPietro, a cargo specialist with the Florida Army Reserve’s 489th Transportation Company, first applied for the religious exemption in November 2019, according to Task & Purpose. He explained that the Bible says that while someone is keeping the Nazirite vow, “no razor can be used on his head.”

The request came after policy changes in 2017 that allow a soldier’s brigade-level commander to approve a request for a religious exemption to grow their hair.

He explained that he went through a dark period in 2017 after returning from Kuwait and married his longtime girlfriend, who became pregnant. But she soon left him, and he began to embrace his Christian faith.

“I noticed that as I prayed, I found strength,” he explained. “By finding strength, I was able to continue fighting my personal battles.”

DiPietro is one of the first Christian service members to receive such an exemption, while other military branches have granted exemptions to followers of faiths such as Sikhism and Islam, Task & Purposes reported.

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DiPietro said he was “sincerely” grateful to everyone who helped and advised him “through this process.” But he added that the difficulty he faced in obtaining the exemption and the harassment he suffered from other soldiers about it encouraged him to leave the service when his contract ended l ‘next year.

“But there are things I see that I don’t like…like the way soldiers are treated when they request an exception to policy while following Army regulations,” he said. he declares. “If a soldier follows the rules set by the military, he must absolutely be free from harassment discrimination. I feel like there is still a culture that, truth be told, fears and hates what is different. “

Ruth R. Culp