Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations Hails U.S. Coast Guard Policy Revision Permitting Members to Wear Religious Headgear While on Duty
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (UOJCA), the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization applauds the US Coast Guard’s recent change in uniform policy allowing a coastguard member to wear religious headgear while on duty. The revision of policy comes after the UOJCA sent a letter to the Coast Guard in March expressing its concern regarding the standing regulation that permit only “religious items” to be worn if they are “concealed or worn only during religious services.” A letter was also sent by Senator John Kerry, lead sponsor of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act (S. 677). This policy prevented Jack Rosenberg, a Hasidic Jewish member of the Coast Guard auxiliary, from wearing his yarmulke, or skullcap, while on duty.
UOJCA director of public policy, Nathan Diament issued the following statement:
“We thank Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, for favorably considering our concern about the U.S. Coast Guard’s policy regarding the wearing of religious headgear while on duty. Other branches of America’s armed services accommodate servicemen and women wearing religious clothing so long as it does not interfere with their duties and we are heartened that the Coast Guard now provides for similar accommodations.
“We thank Senator Kerry for, once again, championing the issue of advancing religious freedom in the workplace. As a veteran, Senator Kerry well understands that our soldiers should allowed to enjoy the very freedoms they fight to maintain, including those pertaining to religious freedom.
“Included in the Senator’s long record of advancing religious freedom here at home is the introduction of his Workplace Religious Freedom Act (S. 677), which he co-sponsored with Senator Rick Santorum. “WRFA” would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s religious observance and it is supported by a broad coalition of religious American organizations.”