Nearly a year after the Army decided a Norse pagan “Heathen” was allowed to have a beard under a religious exemption that also applied to Sikh soldiers, they’ve denied a similar request from a self-proclaimed “Pastafarian.”
Lieutenant General Thomas C. Seamands rejected a request by Army Specialist John Hoskins, who said he was motivated by the Flying Spaghetti Monster to grow a full beard.
Hoskins wanted to see how far the Army would go in the name of respecting religious beliefs, according to the Army Times.
“This request is based on my deeply and sincerely held belief in the Pastafarian faith,” Hoskins wrote in his request to the Army. “It is my personally held belief that growing a beard will bring me closer to my God and bring me into his favor.”
Hoskins even had support from the Church itself, which said in a letter that the Army should grant his request.
“The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has always affirmed that reasonable measures be taken to allow Pastafarians to practice their beliefs,” the letter stated. “This includes, but is not limited to, the consumption of alcoholic beverages during personal hours, the growing of facial hair, the keeping and care of parrots and other birds of paradise, and the overuse of the word ‘ARRR!’“Thank you for your cooperation and May You Be Touched by His Noodly Appendage.”
Perhaps it was the pirate joke — or maybe the religion itself — but the Army ultimately decided that Hoskins’ religious belief wasn’t truly sincere. (It’s worth mentioning that the Department of Defense also doesn’t include Pastafarianism as a religion recognized by the military, making it easier to dismiss the claim.)
That said, it’s interesting that they rejected his request based on a lack of sincerity — and not on the religion itself — because it suggests the Army knows better than Hoskins himself what he’s really thinking.
“I have considered your request for a religious accommodation to permit you to grow a beard in observance of your Pastafarian beliefs, along with the recommendation of your chain of command. I deny your request for an exception to Army personal appearance and grooming standards,” Seamands wrote. “Your request for an accommodation is denied based on a lack of sincerely held religious belief.”
It’s hard to claim this is religious discrimination when Pastafarianism, founded as a satirical response to Creationism, doesn’t have all the trappings of a traditional faith or belief system. But is it really that much crazier than, say, Scientology? If the Army can say a Pastafarian isn’t taking his faith seriously, how long until the same rule is applied to someone else?
(Image via Shutterstock)