At the Open Halls Project, we are often asked about the matter of beards as a religious requirement, and if we can somehow help service members in gaining permission to wear beards.
Unfortunately, this is not something we can help with for two main reasons:
1. There is no religious requirement for beards in Heathenry. Sikhs are allowed to wear beards and turbans because it actually is a religious requirement of their faith that they do so. Kesh, or ‘uncut hair’ is one of the 5 religious requirements of baptized Sikhs. We as Heathens, have no such religious requirement with regards to hair.
2. While some cite the historical example of warriors refusing to shave or cut their hair until they have fulfilled an oath, this is also not supported as a religious requirement for Heathens in the military. The oath to “obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.” taken at enlistment supersedes any further oaths.
In other words, without an explicit religious requirement to wear a beard, the likelihood of the military changing the regulations that you oathed to uphold in order for you to keep a beard, is very unlikely. This is not a matter of religious rights, this is matter of trying to get the entity you oathed to, to change the conditions of your oath.
It is for these reasons that we at the Open Halls Project will not involve ourselves on the beard matter. Moreover, it is our view that focusing on this issue not only detracts from far more important issues, but also makes us appear foolish and uneducated in our own religious beliefs in the eyes of the military.