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Religious Accommodation and Discrimination


Religious Diversity in Army Religious Accommodation Religious Discrimination Military Necessity Roles and Responsibilities: Commander EOA/EOR Chaplain Soldier

Religious Diversity in the Army

What is Meant? Variety of Religious Traditions Strength Recognition, Respect, and Understanding How does it Look? About 46% Protestant, 25% Roman Catholic, 25% No Pref. What is the Impact? Potential for Bias, Prejudice, and Discrimination Potential for Misunderstanding Challenges for Accommodation Awareness and Richness

Religious Accommodation
Definition: The act of facilitating a Soldiers acknowledgment of the divine, various religious beliefs and practices relating to the sacred so long as such accommodation will not have an adverse impact on military necessity, that is, unit, or individual readiness; unit cohesion; health and safety standards; or discipline. BLUF: Providing for Free Exercise of Religion within the bounds of Military Necessity

Religious Accommodation
The Five-Finger Rule Commanders Must Ask: What is the importance of the religious request? What is the importance of the military requirement? What is the impact of repeated accommodations? What are other alternatives to meet the request? What have been past practices?

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Areas of Accommodation

Rites, Rituals, Observances and Practices Diet Medical Concerns: Immunizations, DNA, Surgery, blood transfusions Apparel Personal Grooming (Grandfathered Situations Only; see AR 600-20, Command Policy, Ch 5)

Religious Discrimination
Definition: Any action, intentional or unintentional, that unlawfully or unjustly results in unequal treatment of persons or groups based on religion and for which distinctions are not supported by legal or rational considerations (IAW DoDD 1350.2).

Military Necessity

The Most Critical Issue when considering an Accommodation Subject to the Commanders Judgment Limits the Extent of Accommodation or Free Exercise

Newly Constructed Chapel At Camp Victory, Baghdad

Roles and Responsibilities

Commander Assesses Requests: Five-Finger Rule Applies Military Necessity Rule Adjudicates Request IAW Regulations & Policies EOR/EOA: Is this a complaint or an accommodation issue? Is it discrimination? Chaplain: Assists with accommodation Soldier: Adheres to procedures, voices concern


Religious Diversity in Army Religious Accommodation Religious Discrimination Military Necessity Roles and Responsibilities: Commander EOA/EOR Chaplain Soldier

Vignette #1 Ramadan
A Muslim Soldier in your battalion desires to observe Ramadan, an important annual 30-day fast in Islam. As a pillar of his faith, it is important for him to observe the fast. It involves no food or moisture from basically sunrise to sunset. An observing Muslim will also limit his/her intake of food in the evening hours. The Soldiers First Sergeant has denied this request because she feels the Soldier may jeopardize his health, especially because of the strenuous mission schedule he is currently on. He comes to you because he feels the denial is unjustified.


20 OCT 2005

CH (LTC) Bonura

Vignette #2 Pagan Rituals

A Soldier, who calls herself a Wiccan, desires to meet with other Wiccans and Pagans on the installation. She asked her chaplain to help her with this request but he has not been very responsive. Her unit supervisor said he wasnt going help a witch. She has now come to you. What will you do?

Vignette #3 Staff Meeting Prayers

A new battalion commander has directed his chaplain to provide a prayer at every command and staff meeting. He told him hed like a strong Christian prayer because I am concerned about the faith of my officers, especially since we are all at war. A new lieutenant has come to you because he is uncomfortable with prayers at every meeting. He says, I feel like Im attending a bible study. The chaplain told him he is just doing what the commander wants. Also, the LT objects to a Christian prayer.

Vignette #4 Apparel
A Muslim Soldier desires to wear the traditional khimar, a headcovering, during work hours and while in uniform (not just during prayer). Her supervisor told her no but didnt give her much of an explanation. She explains to you that she has observed Jewish Soldiers wearing a Yarmulke (skull cap) during work hours and while in uniform. So why cant she wear her religious headcovering?

Vignette #5 Witnessing and Prayer

An atheist Soldier complains to you that he is sick and tired of hearing about Jesus from a biblethumper in his platoon. Furthermore, he doesnt want to be present when the chaplain gives the invocation at the change of command. However, he has been told his presence is mandatory. He is ready to file an IG complaint.

Vignette #6 Rations
Your unit is about to conduct training at the National Training Center and a Muslim Soldier comes to you complaining that the unit does not want to provide faith-specific rations for her during the training. Her commander explained it is too late to order the rations and she should have spoken up sooner. Shell just have to make due.