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Religion in the
Australian Defence Force

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Religion in the Australian Defence Force

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has entered a new agreement with the major religious groups in Australia with the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) signing a new Memorandum of Arrangements (MOA) on 5 December 2018.

The new MOA was developed to meet the evolving diversity of the ADF population and its different faith and religious needs. The Anglican Bishop to the Defence Force, Bishop Ian Lambert said, “It is nearly 40 years since the original MOA was struck between Churches and Government. This a significant achievement given the changing religious landscape of Australia and the rise of secularism. It points to the significance given to religion and faith matters by our senior military officers. While the MOA process had taken a long time, I am pleased with the outcome and proud of the achievement.”

The ADF has maintained a relationship with Religious Institutions since the early 1900s. In 1981, the ADF established the Religious Advisory Committee to the Services (RACS) to provide guidance and advice for ADF members and its leadership on religion, religious practices and spirituality.

The new agreement recognises that the religious, spiritual and pastoral needs of all ADF members is a matter of the highest importance and demonstrates Defence’s continued commitment to ensuring provision is made for all ADF members of all religious groups to practice their faith. The new MOA details the foundation for the work of RACS for the future. Early in 2019, RACS will also welcome into its membership representatives from the Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist faiths.

Bishop Lambert along with the other RACS members, acknowledges the military environment within which ADF members are employed, and continues to ensure recruitment of suitable clergy to serve as Defence chaplains while recognising the broad scope of religions and denominations of ADF members.

Bishop Lambert retires from his ministry as Bishop to the Defence Force after six years, in October 2019.

Published in the April 2019 edition of The Messenger.

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