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‘Our faith leads us to oppose it’: Reconciliation charity condemns Sunak’s pledge to restore national service

by Kelly Valencia

The Fellowship of Reconciliation has criticized Rishi Sunak’s plans to reinstate national service for 18-year-olds, highlighting that "the armed forces and large employers traditionally oppose it”.

The organisation argues that "the only people in favour appear to be politicians who would not be the ones doing it".

On Sunday, the Prime Minister pledged the mandatory scheme would see young people spend a year in the military or do volunteer work on weekends, citing examples from other countries that showed “just how fulfilling it is for young people”.

Sweden, Denmark and Norway are among the other nations that have a form of national service.

He also said the scheme would help unite society in an “increasingly uncertain world” and give young people a “shared sense of purpose”.

However, these plans have faced widespread criticism, including from a Christian peace organisation that historically provided theological and moral support to objectors of military service during the First World War, even before it was legally recognised as a right.

In a statement, its director John Cooper, said: “The armed forces and large employers traditionally oppose it. Young people, polled earlier this year, oppose it and our faith leads us to oppose it. The only people in favour appear to be politicians who would not be the ones doing it.

“The abuse of humanity found in warfare is not something to train future generations in. It is already absurd that it's suggested people will either be paid to be in the military or simply choose to volunteer one weekend a month. 

“Partner branches of the Fellowship have been creating full time alternative options where people are given the chance to use their skills to build peace instead of being opted into military service. Should the proposed policy be enacted we will be taking ideas of paid alternative service to the Royal Commission. We will continue to support those who faith leads them to object to conscription into the armed forces."

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