In 2017, the Army first allowed for a beard-growing exemption due to legal pressure from Sikh soldiers that wished to continue their religious traditions while serving, reports the Army Times.
The following year, another soldier applied and received an exemption to grow a beard, due to his faith.
Commander Col. Curtis Shroeder wrote, “I grant your accommodation, subject to the standards and limitations described below. 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 accommodations.”
However, the Army’s initial decision failed to specify which religions are eligible to receive exemptions.
This year, Spc. John Hoskins applied for a beard exemption, citing his Pastafarian faith to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Hoskins wrote:
“This request is based on my deeply and sincerely held belief in the Pastafarian faith. It is my personally held belief that growing a beard will bring me closer to my God and bring me into his favor.”
Hoskins’ request was brought to a deputy chief of staff, and ultimately denied. Army spokeswoman Cathy Brown Vandermaarel said:
“The Army takes pride in sustaining a culture where all personnel are treated with dignity and respect and not discriminated against based on race, color, religion, gender and national origin. While we cannot speak to the specifics of any particular case, religious accommodation can be disapproved if it is determined that the request is not based on a sincerely held religious belief or if the accommodation would create a specific hazard that cannot be reasonably mitigated.”