Exceptions to appearance standards based on religious practices.
1. As provided by AR 600-20, paragraph 5-6, and subject to temporary revocation because of health, safety, or mission requirements, the following applies to the wear of religious apparel, articles, or jewelry. The term “religious apparel” is defined as articles of clothing worn as part of the observance of the religious faith practiced by the soldier. 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. Except as noted below, personnel may not wear religious items if they do not meet the standards of this regulation, and requests for accommodation will not be entertained (see AR 600-20, para 5-6g(2)(d)).
- 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” is defined as meeting the uniform criteria of this regulation. 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 present a safety concern. Soldiers may not be prohibited, however, from wearing religious apparel, articles, or jewelry meeting the criteria of this regulation 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 this regulation, CTA 50-909, and AR 165-1 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. (See AR 600-20, para 5-6g(7).)
2. 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.
- Personnel will not wear religious headgear in place of military headgear when military headgear is required (outdoors, or indoors when required for duties or ceremonies).
3. Personal grooming. Hair and grooming practices are governed by paragraph 1-8 of this regulation, and exceptions or accommodations based on religious practices will not be granted. As an exception, policy exceptions based on religious practice given to soldiers in accordance with AR 600-20 on or prior to 1 January 1986 remain in effect as long as the soldier remains otherwise qualified for retention.