New MoD data showed how religious our British Forces are.
Diversity

How Religious Are Our Armed Forces?

Forces News looked at how faith in the British military compares to the British public.

New MoD data showed how religious our British Forces are.

The latest data from the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has revealed the current religious make-up of the Armed Forces. 

Figures have shown that, among the 99% of UK regulars who declared their faith, over 69% are of Christian denomination. 

Around 28% reported having no religion, a figure that has seen a sharp increase in recent years. Since October 2012, the prevalence of those with no religion has risen from 15.5% to some 27%, a spike of 11.5% in only six years.

When compared with numbers from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there is a level of disparity between the faith representation in regular forces and the population of England, Scotland and Wales.

Whilst 69% of the Army, Navy and RAF regulars are Christian, the faith accounts for just over half of the general public (50.7%).

The gap was even greater between the Future Reserves 2020 - a programme to strengthen the role of the reserves - and the general population, with more than 73% of reservists subscribed to Christianity.

The data also shows that, whilst almost 337,000 Muslims make up 5.2% of the overall population, the religion represents just 0.4% of the UK regulars. That's a 13-time stronger representation in the public than in personnel. 

These proportions could shift in the coming months, as the Armed Forces has recently opened its doors to 1,350 new Commonwealth citizens per year, prompted by ethnic diversity targets for 2020.

Normally, those joining up are required to have five-year UK residency, but a limited waiver of the criteria could see a larger intake from non-Christian Commonwealth nations such as India - which is mostly Hindu - and Bangladesh - which is mostly Muslim.

The publication from the ONS breaks down an annual population survey from April 2017 to March 2018 and accounted for approximately 97% of the public.

Comparing this to the MOD's data shows that people of Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh belief to be slightly underrepresented in the UK Regular Forces.

The diversity statistics are the latest two biannual publications, which also includes data on gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation and maternity.