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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 October 2005, 08:22 GMT 09:22 UK
Non-Christian chaplains appointed
Service in the desert, British Army photo
The four chaplains have been taken on for an initial three years
The first Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh chaplains have been appointed by the British Armed Forces.

It is hoped they will make the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force more welcoming to non-Christian recruits.

The chaplains, who were appointed after a national recruiting campaign, will also promote better understanding of their religions in the forces.

Defence minister Don Touhig said he was confident they would "contribute enormously" by supporting personnel.

The four, who will give spiritual, moral and pastoral support to service men and women, and their dependents, are classed as civil servants and employed on fixed-term contracts - for an initial three years.

There are around 183,000 Christians, 305 Muslims, 230 Hindus, 220 Buddhists and 90 Sikhs serving in the Armed Forces.

"The Armed Forces attach great importance to supporting the spiritual wellbeing and development of its personnel," said Mr Touhig.

"I am confident that the new chaplains will contribute enormously to encouraging and promoting religious understanding and acceptance within the Armed Forces and that they will provide comfort, support and valuable advice to service personnel."

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