Why would a U.S. sailor contest an order to shave off his beard?
When it is “a religious requirement and an expression of obedience and fidelity to God,” according to the testimony of Electrician’s Mate (Nuclear) 3rd Class Edmund Di Liscia, a Hasidic Jew aboard the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, now on duty in the Pacific.
Di Liscia had obtained a religious accommodation to wear his beard while in uniform. When his ship’s command overruled that accommodation, Di Liscia obtained a court order from a federal judge for a temporary stay. The sailor submitted testimony saying the order to shave was “extremely humiliating and deeply jarring to my psyche and soul.”
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which supports the rights of service personnel to observe their religion, argued that the order is a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Becket is also representing Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Leo Katsareas, a devout Muslim who wishes to retain his beard while serving in the U.S. Navy.
Safeguarding the free exercise of religion for military personnel is a key concern of Protect The 1st. We believe that Americans of many faiths, from Muslim women seeking to wear a hijab, to Sikhs who want to wear a kirpan (a small, ceremonial sword) or a kara (religious bracelet), to members of other faiths – all have shown they can both be true to their religion and serve our country with honor and distinction.