Sep 25, 2006

Catholics in the Military and the U.S.

The Defense Department has released new numbers of Catholics in the active Armed Services of the U.S. If you remember, a previous post dealt with whether Catholics were over- or under-represented in the military. Here is the new table from the DoD, and it differs from the Catholic military chaplaincy site that states "40% of those in the Navy, 28% in the Air Force, and 25% in the Army are Catholic." The new table indicates 19% of the Navy, 22% of the Air Force, and 20% of the Army are Catholic.

Because of the above discrepancies, it appears impossible to compare the approximate 20 to 21% Catholics in the active Armed Forces with the 26% baptized Catholics in the U.S., as reported by However, it may be the 26% that is the suspect value--if it is used to quantify persons who identify themselves as Catholic. The actual percentage of people in the U.S. who identify themselves as Catholic is likely to be similar to the 20 to 21% in the active military. If so, this would represent an approximate 20% loss (from 26% to 20-21%) of baptized Catholics by their early adulthood when they no longer identify themselves as Catholic.

The American Forces Information Center notes the records include:
military members who have chosen Catholic as their religious preference ... received from Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC). Also stated from DMDC is that Navy Officers & the Coast Guard don't report religious preference at all. For the most part it is up to the individual military person to decide if they want to select a religious preference or not.

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