The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is spending £22 million annually on employing 280 Christian chaplains across the three armed services, according to the MoD’s reply to a request under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act made by the National Secular Society (NSS) and summarized in a press release issued by the NSS today. See:
In the light of this finding, the NSS has written to defence minister Andrew Robathan to question the expenditure, asking that either the Churches fund the chaplains themselves or the MoD converts their role into a secular ‘pastoral care’ service, for which anybody can apply. A MoD spokesman has said that chaplaincy spend is ‘currently being assessed’.
The FOI request also revealed that, as a rule, only 30% of chaplains are preparing for, on, or recovering from military operations at any one time. In the case of army chaplains, just 20 of 150 are currently on active service, while 18% are on medically limited deployability and a further 7% classed as medically non-deployable.
Christian chaplains employed by the MoD are commissioned officers, with a starting salary of £37,172, rising to £55,857 after 15 years. The armed forces also retain five civilian chaplains to care for Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Jewish and Muslim service personnel.
For the religious affiliation of the armed forces, see our recent post at: