ADL Highlights Need for Religious Accommodation in the Armed Forces

New York, NY, November 19, 2014 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called for increased religious respect and accommodation in the Armed Forces in a statement submitted for hearings on the subject before a House Armed Services Subcommittee.

Barry Curtiss-Lusher, ADL National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:

Americans who choose military service must have the freedom to practice their religion – or no religion – without pressure to conform to the belief system of their commanding officers in order to gain acceptance or promotions up the ranks. The military command structure creates a unique potential for undue pressure on an individual to conform in order not to jeopardize his or her military career.

Religious accommodation in the military also means ensuring that talented and patriotic Americans are not prevented from serving in our nation’s military because of their religion.

One dramatic illustration of the extraordinary religious diversity in the military is the listing of more than 50 “Available Emblems of Beliefs for Placement on Government Headstones and Markers” available to the families and friends of fallen soldiers. We certainly should be equally committed to honoring the religious beliefs and practices of our soldiers, sailors, and airmen and airwomen who are now risking their lives to safeguard our nation and its values, including individual religious liberty.

The League’s statement to the House Armed Services Subcommittee references a letter from a broad coalition of 21 Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and interdenominational religious organizations urging Pentagon officials to accommodate fundamental aspects of minority religious practice of some aspiring soldiers, including observant Jews and Sikhs.

For the past decade, ADL has played a lead role in helping the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) address a climate of religious intolerance for members of minority religions which came to light there in 2004 and 2005.