Soldiers may wear religious apparel, articles, or jewelry subject to some limitations based on mission or other requirements. The term “religious apparel” applies to articles of clothing worn as part of the observance of the religious faith practiced by the soldier. These religious articles include, but are not limited to, medallions, small booklets, pictures, or copies of religious symbols or writing carried by the individual in wallets or pockets. See AR 600-20, Army Command Policy, paragraph 5-6g for more information on accommodating religious practices.
Soldiers may wear religious apparel, articles, or jewelry with the uniform, to include the physical fitness uniform, if they are neat, conservative, and discreet. “Neat, conservative, and discreet” means it meets the uniform criteria of AR 670-1. In other words, when religious jewelry is worn, the uniform must meet the same standards of wear as if the religious jewelry were not worn. For example, a religious item worn on a chain may not be visible when worn with the utility, service, dress or mess uniforms. When worn with the physical fitness uniform, the item should be no more visible than identification (ID) tags would be in the same uniform. The width of chains worn with religious items should be approximately the same size as the width of the ID tag chain.
Soldiers may not wear these items when doing so would interfere with the performance of their duties or cause a safety problem. Soldiers may not be prohibited, however, from wearing religious apparel, articles or jewelry meeting the criteria of AR 670-1 simply because they are religious in nature if wear is permitted of similar items of a nonreligious nature. A specific example would be wearing a ring with a religious symbol. If the ring meets the uniform standards for jewelry and is not worn in a work area where rings are prohibited because of safety concerns, then wear is allowed and may not be prohibited simply because the ring bears a religious symbol.
During a worship service, rite, or ritual, soldiers may wear visible or apparent religious articles, symbols, jewelry, and apparel that do not meet normal uniform standards. Commanders, however, may place reasonable limits on the wear of non-subdued items of religious apparel during worship services, rites, or rituals conducted in the field for operational or safety reasons. When soldiers in uniform wear visible religious articles on such occasions, they must ensure that these articles are not permanently affixed or appended to any prescribed article of the uniform.
Chaplains may wear religious attire as described in AR 670-1, CTA 50-909, Field and Garrison Furnishings and Equipment, and AR 165-1, Chaplain Activities in the United States Army, in the performance of religious services and other official duties, as required. Commanders may not prohibit chaplains from wearing religious symbols that are part of the chaplain’s duty uniform.
Soldiers may wear religious headgear while in uniform if the headgear meets the following criteria:
- It must be subdued in color (black, brown, green, dark or navy blue, or a combination of these colors).
- It must be of a style and size that can be completely covered by standard military headgear and it cannot interfere with the proper wear or functioning of protective clothing or equipment.
- The headgear cannot bear any writing, symbols or pictures.
- Soldiers will not wear religious headgear in place of military headgear when military headgear is required (outdoors or indoors when required for duties or ceremonies).