How long until crosses?

THE Australian Army is removing the motto “In this sign conquer” from the 102-year-old hat badges of army chaplains because it is offensive to Muslims.

The move comes after an imam approved by the Grand Mufti was appointed to join the ­Religious Advisory Committee to the Services in June.

Australian Army chaplains have had the motto on their hat badges since 1913.

A Defence spokeswoman last night denied the motto was being changed because it was associated with the Crusades, when Christian armies fought Muslims in the Holy Land during the Middle Ages.

“The motto of the Australian Army Chaplains is being changed to better reflect the diversity of religion throughout the Australian Army,” she said.

“The new wording on the Australian Army Chaplaincy badge is under consideration and no decision has been made at this time.”

Former army major Bernard Gaynor, whose commission was terminated last year due to his outspoken views, said: “This is political correctness destroying our military heritage.”

Mr Gaynor, who is standing as the Australian Liberty Alliance senate candidate for Queensland, said political correctness in the military was highlighted by the appointment of an imam.

“The government must stop the political correctness. It must dismiss the Defence Imam for his views. And it must put Australia first,” he said.

Military historian Professor Peter Stanley from UNSW Canberra said: “The motto was acceptable 100 years ago but today has crusader connotations.”

Despite the perceived crusader links, he said the motto actually comes from Emperor Constantine’s vision before he won the battle of Milviian Bridge in 312AD and converted to Christianity: “Jewish chaplains already have a separate badge with a Star of David, so Muslim chaplains would not be expected to wear the current badge. They would have one with a crescent.”

Army chaplains are understood to have pushed for the change. Former principal chaplain to the army Monsignor Greg Flynn said: “We have been aware of this coming down the track and most chaplains would agree with the change. It is a reality.”