"This ruling affirms a key Sikh principle to fight oppression. Sikhs believe that all people are equal in the eyes of God and should never stand for injustice or discrimination," Kaur told CNA March 9.
"For Sikhs, it is important to remember God at all times, earn an honest living, share with the less fortunate, and fight discrimination," she explained.
She said that the articles of the Sikh faith have a deeper meaning.
"Unshorn hair and a beard are physical and external reminders to Sikhs to uphold their spiritual obligations to God. They are symbols of their submission to God and we believe this is living in harmony with God's will. This is an essential part of the Sikh way of life," Kaur said.
Singh, a devout Sikh, always wore a beard and a turban in accord with his beliefs. But when he was accepted at West Point in 2006, he felt he had no choice but to comply with academy rules and shave his beard or else lose his place, the lawsuit said.
Since graduating from West Point, Singh has completed Ranger School and has received a master's degree in engineering. He also received a Bronze Star for his service clearing improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan.
Singh has always complied with the Army's ban on long hair and turbans, despite feeling conflicted over not fulfilling the articles of his faith, according to the lawsuit.
After meeting several Sikh soldiers who maintained their religious practices, Singh realized that his faith and profession could coexist, the document said. In October 2015, Singh filed a request for a religious accommodation to allow him to wear a beard and turban.
His temporary accommodation ends March 31, by which date a final decision on his exemption request must be granted.
Travis Weber, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, said that religious freedom and military practices are not mutually exclusive.
"Military service members retain their constitutional rights when they enter the military. They should not be forced to choose between serving their country and practicing their faith," Weber told CNA March 10.
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"The Army must accommodate religious beliefs as long as they don't conflict with important military goals and practices. In this case, there was no reason why Captain Singh couldn't exercise his faith since no convincing military interest was in jeopardy," Weber said.
Captain Singh is the first active-duty combat soldier to be granted an exception to the Army's grooming requirements. Since the ban was implemented in 1981, only three other Sikhs have been allowed to grow beards. They all served in non-combatant positions in the medical corps.
Baxter said the court's ruling sets an important precedent against discriminating against military members of faith.
"If the Army can tell a Sikh they cannot practice their faith, it will be able to make other arbitrary demands on others of faith," he said. "If the Army can say you must give up this part of your faith, what else will it demand? We are glad the court wasn't willing to find out and chose to safeguard the constitutional freedoms of Captain Singh."
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