The U.S. Army has granted one of its officers a religious exception, which allows him to wear a turban and a beard while in uniform. Capt. Simratpal Singh, a 28-year-old Sikh, is the first active-duty soldier given such a religious exception. The West Point graduate, whose military service began at age 18, told CNN on Tuesday that he has always had a “fascination” with the Army because “standing up for the weak and defending the defenseless is very much at the core of the Sikh psyche.”

Eric Baxter of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty applauded the Pentagon’s decision. “No American should have to face religious discrimination to serve their country – especially not top-notch, battle-tested soldiers like Captain Singh,” Baxter said, the Sikh Foundation reported April 1. “We will continue fighting for the right of all Sikh Americans to serve without violating their faith.” FULL REPORT