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Religion or Belief in The British Army

Army Chaplin addressing troops on deployment

There are currently over 50 religions observed in the British Army. The Army will always help you observe the customs of your faith.


Spiritual advisors serve with most units, offering help and guidance to soldiers at home and overseas. Padres are Christian ministers but they support soldiers of any faith as well as those who have no religious beliefs at all. There are also Armed Forces Chaplains of the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish and Sikh faiths and a network of religious advisors.

Do I have to wear uniform?
Alterations to uniform or appearance are permitted providing that they do not compromise Operational Effectiveness or Health and Safety. This applies both in barracks and on operations.

Is there anywhere for me to pray?
Quiet prayer rooms, where available, can be used by people of any religion.

What about religious events and celebrating festivals?
Soldiers are allowed to celebrate religious festivals and attend events, however operational and training requirements must still be met.


The Royal Army Chaplains’ Department (RAChD)  gives spiritual support, both publicly and privately, at every level of the Army, at home and abroad. Christian services are conducted every Sunday at Garrison Churches and when deployed on exercise and operations Padres conduct services in the field. Padres have dispensation on religious grounds to give communion to serving personnel while deployed. RAChD Padres have full access to denominational churches and are able to minister to all.


There are around 450 Muslims serving in the Regular Army. Muslim soldiers may wear a full beard. Beards may remain uncut and worn in accordance with Islamic tradition as long as operational mission and safety are not risked. Female Muslim soldiers may wear trousers and shirts with the sleeves rolled down, so that their arms and legs are covered, they may also cover their arms and legs in all orders of dress - including wearing cravats in orders of dress with open collars. A hijab may be worn all with orders of dress, subject to safety and operational considerations (for example when a helmet is needed on operations). Halal food is available both on camp, exercise and operations.


There are currently around 690 Buddhists in the Regular Army. Buddhist soldiers may wear Protection and Blessing Strings and Mala whilst in uniform, with the exception of Operational Effectiveness/Health and Safety. Vegetarian options are available in camp, on operations and on exercise.


There are currently around 1,000 Hindus in the Regular Army. Hindu soldiers can wear Raksha Bandhan provided that they don’t compromise operational effectiveness or health and safety. The Tilak may be worn on the forehead where it does not affect operational effectiveness. Vegetarian options are available in camp, on operations and on exercise.


There are currently around 150 Sikhs serving in the Regular Army. A turban may be worn by Sikh soldiers with most orders of dress, subject to safety and operational considerations. In the instances where a turban cannot be worn (e.g. when a helmet is required, or during strenuous exercise) a Patka can be worn instead. Kanga, Kara, Kacha and Kirpans may be worn, and a beard may be worn and remain uncut, provided that operational effectiveness and health and safety are not at risk.


Jews may serve openly within the British Army. A male Jewish soldier may wear a dark, plain pattern yarmulke whenever he removes other headdress so long as Operational Effectiveness and Health and Safety are not compromised. In all barracks, chefs are able to cook vegetarian and kosher options that are suitable for Jewish soldiers, on request, and special ration packs can be arranged when on exercise or operations.


There are around 100 Rastafarians serving in the Regular Army. Rastafarians may wear full beards and may have dreadlocks which do not need to be altered or cut, but should be worn in a manner that is tidy and allows for the wearing of all forms of headdress correctly. Operational Effectiveness and Health and Safety must not be compromised at any time.


29.2% of full time service personnel in the UK declare themselves to be non-religious. Humanist and Non-Religious in Defence (HAND) provide support and brings together members of the Armed Forces, veterans and their families.


Soldiers can belong to any religion they want, as long as it is not illegal under civil law and is compatible with the Values and Standards of the Army. When you join, you'll be asked about your religion or other belief system, however soldiers are judged only by their actions. You can choose non-religious / humanists. This info will be shown on your identity discs. There are many other religions and beliefs, if you want to know more ask at the careers office.


Ration packs are used when you're out on exercise or on operations. They last for 24 hours, and contain 4,000 calories. They're available for different diets, including vegetarian, kosher and halal.

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