The Army’s puny facial-hair regulations are no match for the virile savagery of Norse pagans.
A soldier assigned to the 795th Military Police Battalion recently received special dispensation to rock a beard, despite the Army regulations prohibiting aggro facial hair, due to his “heathen” religious beliefs as a Norse pagan, Army Times reports.
“In observance of your Heathen; Norse Pagan faith, you may wear a beard, in accordance with Army uniform and grooming standards for soldiers with approved religious accommodations,” 14th Military Police Brigade commander Col. Curtis Shroeder wrote to the unnamed soldier in a memo, making news that’s spread across social media in recent weeks.
The Army has made gradual changes to its exemptions from the regulation governing facial hair in recent years: A January 2017 update, for example, allowed Sikh soldiers to maintain their beards, subject to the approval of their brigade commander. And Norse symbology has gradually seeped into the U.S. armed forces: the VA approved Thor’s legendary hammer Mjölnir for military headstones in 2013 thanks to the efforts of the Open Halls Project, whose stated mission is “serving military heathens.”
But the new memo marks a significant victory for, and I can’t believe I’m writing this, the growing population of Norse pagans in the U.S. armed forces — especially given the beard’s status as a non-essential component of the faith.
“There is no religious requirement for beards in Heathenry,” Open Halls said in a 2017 statement. “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 five religious requirements of baptized Sikhs. We, as Heathens, have no such religious requirement with regards to hair.”
The Army moved to officially recognize heathenism as part of its internal faith group codes in 2015, following a years-long push by “multiple soldiers,” as Army Times reported at the time.
Regardless of the new memo’s implications for religious exemptions within the armed forces, one thing is clear: Getting permission to rock an operator-style beard due to your devotion to mythical Norse warlords like Thor and Odin is, beyond a doubt, the most metal-as-fuck religious exemption in the history of religious exemptions (suck it, Desmond Doss).
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