Soldier Allowed to Have a Beard Because of his Norse Pagan Faith

Instructors with the 14th Military Police Brigade demonstrate proper room clearing techniques to explorers during the Bi-Annual National Law Enforcement Explorers Academy. A member of the brigade at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. has been granted religious accommodation to have a beard because of his of the Norse Pagan faith. (U.S. Army photo/Valerie Collins)
Instructors with the 14th Military Police Brigade demonstrate proper room clearing techniques to explorers during the Bi-Annual National Law Enforcement Explorers Academy. A member of the brigade at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. has been granted religious accommodation to have a beard because of his of the Norse Pagan faith. (U.S. Army photo/Valerie Collins)

In 2017, the Army made it simpler to receive a religious appearance accommodation, a move that made it easier for Sikhs and observers of other religions to uphold the tenets of their faiths while serving in uniform.

Now a member of the Norse pagan faith has been granted such accommodation by the 14th Military Police Brigade at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. Commander Col. Curtis M. Shroeder signed a memorandum for a 795th Military Police Battalion soldier whose name is redacted in the version that is circulating on social media.

"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 accomodations provided in Army regulation (AR) 670-1," the memo said.

Fort Leonard Wood spokeswoman Tiffany Wood confirmed the authenticity of the memo to Army Times.

In early 2017, the appearance accommodation policy was added to Army Regulation 670-1, which includes Army uniform appearance standards, according to a memo from then-Army Secretary Eric Fanning.

"The soldier's brigade-level commander will approve a request for a religious accommodation ... unless the commander determines the request is not based on a sincerely held religious belief, or identifies a specific, concrete hazard that is not specifically addressed in this directive and that cannot be mitigated by reasonable measures," Fanning wrote.

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