New figures show increase in non-religious Armed Forces personnel
December 19th, 2012
New figures released by the Ministry of Defence show an increase in the proportion of Armed Forces personnel who are non-religious. On 1 April 2012, 14.7% of Armed Forces personnel identified themselves as non-religious, up from 9.5% in 2007. The proportion of Christians in the Armed Forces also decreased from 89.7% in 2007 to 83.5% in 2012. These trends reflect those in British society as a whole, with the recently-released 2011 Census results also showing a shift away from Christianity towards the non-religious. The British Humanist Association (BHA) welcomes the new figures, and is calling for an end to discrimination against non-religious personnel in the Armed Forces, including in Remembrance services. In the run up to Remembrance Sunday, the BHA supported For All Who Serve, the campaign by UKAFHA (United Kingdom Armed Forces Humanist Association) for the inclusion of Humanist representatives at national Remembrance Day services.
The new figures have been released in the 2012 edition of UK Defence Statistics, the annual statistical compendium published by the Ministry of Defence. The respective 2012 figures for non-religious personnel in the Army, Naval Service and Royal Air Force were: 11.9%, 20.1% and 17.5%. The figures for civilian personnel who work for the Armed Forces have only been collected since 2008, and the declaration rate in 2012 was only 67.6%. Nevertheless, the proportion of non-religious for those civilian personnel who did state their religion was similar to that in the 2011 Census, with 24.1% saying that they had no religion (the Census figure for England and Wales was 25.1%).
Pavan Dhaliwal, BHA Head of Public Affairs, commented ‘The rise in the proportion of non-religious personnel in the Armed Forces makes the need to end discrimination against non-religious personnel, and to ensure that they are represented at Remembrance services, more pressing than ever before. The non-religious are the second largest belief group in the Armed Forces after Christianity, and the number of non-religious members outnumbers all those belonging to the non-Christian religions combined.’
‘While members of the Armed Forces are more likely to identify with a religious faith than civilians, the rise in the proportion of non-religious personnel nevertheless reflects the decline in religiosity which has been marked in the population as a whole, and which has been demonstrated in the recent Census results. At the very least the government should change its stance on allowing non religious representation at the national remembrance ceremony at the Cenotaph which we have been calling for for four years now. Any case against is increasingly redundant and has been for some time now.’
For further comment or information contact Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0773 843 5059.
Ministry of Defence – United Kingdom Defence Statistics 2012:
The website of For All Who Serve:
The website of the UK Armed Forces Humanist Association:
BHA news article – Census results show huge shift in cultural identity from Christianity to no religion:
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.