Shave or be Shaved. Aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, sailor Edmund Di Liscia faced a stark choice. According to his lawyers, he was told to either shave his beard voluntarily or be held down by his bunk mate and forcibly shaved. For Di Liscia, a practicing Hasidic Jew who had not shaved for more than two years, it was a choice between his loyalty to the U.S. Navy and his religious faith.
Di Liscia is one of several sailors and marines who are seeking religious accommodation to wear beards while in uniform.
Earlier this year, Di Liscia, along with three Muslim sailors, joined in a lawsuit brought by the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, alleging the Navy’s beard policy amounts to a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Pentagon has allowed military personnel to request religious accommodation to uniforms under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act since 2014. The Army and Air Force have allowed beards as a religious accommodation for Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Norse heathen service members who have requested them.