Chief Army Chaplain in Afghanistan distributes local-language Bibles, orders congregation to convert locals

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115 Responses to “Chief Army Chaplain in Afghanistan distributes local-language Bibles, orders congregation to convert locals”

  1. maitrix says:

    Hunt for Jesus those who hunt for Allah! Yes, stop the proliferation of Islam by proselytizing for Jesus! The more we are different, the more we are the stupid.

  2. Xopher says:

    Timothy: You’re quite welcome. I hate it when people who agree on fundamentals argue over a misunderstanding. And btw I agree that an aborted heinous act is less bad than a completed heinous act.

    One minor quibble, before people jump all over you: the bibles were in Pashto and Dari (both Indo-Iranian languages, thus Indo-European, thus related distantly to English), not Arabic (a Semitic language related to Hebrew and Amharic, but not to the Indo-European family). Most Afghans don’t speak Arabic except in the mosque.

  3. zebbart says:

    Xopher, we can agree to disagree about whether it is genuinely possible to give up intrinsic rights. I was talking about existential rights, not legal rights. When the two clash, which side are you on? But I think you are painting a black and white picture of a complex and diverse situation. It’s not all imperial drones, guerrilla zealots, and downtrodden peasants. I’m for letting human interaction and relationships develop freely, “our mission” and “their narrative” be damned.

    Antinous, you’re right I do live in a world without newspapers and tv. I basically get my information from radio, and the amazing reportage of This American Life, Democracy Now, and Alternative Radio have dispelled the caricatures of Iraq, Afghanistan and the US military that often dominate these conversations. “…but it is a Muslim country.” Interesting. You may concede the land and population of Afghanistan to hard line Islamicists, but I’d let the occupied themselves decide about the ideas of the occupiers. Fundamentalist Islam actually has a short and limited role in Afghanistan. The isolation of the last 20 years makes it hard to know how the culture has shifted, but I’d bet most people there are still moderate to conservative and not too excited about the issue of religion. I don’t think we should participate in the hard-liners’ domination of those people. And of course I would not object to a Satanist soldier sharing his beliefs and literature with anyone. I’d be fascinated to see how everyone would have reacted if this story had been about soldiers getting reprimanded for talking about promoting rationalism and handing out translations of Thomas Paine.

  4. russ3llr says:

    Is this the same story?

    http://www.onenewsnow.com/Security/Default.aspx?id=516980

    If so, seems like it has a happy ending…

  5. Timothy Hutton says:

    Xopher – luckily no one here gets too hung up on details!

    I knew “Arabic” was a cop-out, but I was posting from my iPhone and I felt that was “close enough for government work” – I was too lazy to really g et into it then – but then again, this isn’t quite government work, is it – we hold ourselves to a higher standard.

    Thanks, again!

  6. the_boy says:

    @Moriarty #16

    The Golden Arches Peace Theory is wrong:

    “Unfortunately for world peace, the Big Mac Attack Rule finally broke down in 1999. On 24 March 1999, NATO began its air attack on Yugoslavia. Faced with angry nationalism, vandalism and boycotts, all the McDonalds in Yugoslavia shut their doors on 26 March. This means that for two full days, McDonaldland was wrenched asunder by its first intramural war ever. When McD finally reopened on 17 April, it was an occassion of public celebration almost matching the end of the Kosovo War itself.

    McDonald’s opened in Panama in 1971, so the 1989 war with the US would be another, earlier exception.

    The Kargil Exception: Pakistan’s McD opened in Karachi on 19 Sept. 1998, while India’s opened on 13 Oct 1996.”

    @Shelby Davis #20

    I don’t buy the cultural incompatibility argument, Huntington. Turkey is overwhelmingly Muslim, and has been a democracy with competitive elections since 1950. India, too, has long been a democracy, and India has one of the largest Muslim populations in the world. Iran, while having a government that is largely undemocratic, has had semi-competitive presidential and parliamentary elections since the early 1990s. The constraints on democracy in Iran are institutionally imposed; the people themselves are more than capable of democracy, but operate within a government that allows very little expression of that.

    As counterpoint, many nations with christian populations have had dictators: Pinochet, Franco, the Junta in Argentina, Mussolini, every other French government from the revolution until the 4th republic, the 2nd and 3rd Reichs in Germany, all the governments of Eastern Europe under the USSR, and Cromwell in England. Yet no one says the Chileans, the Spanish, the Argentinians, the Italians, the French, the Germans, the Polish, or the British are incapable of having democracy. And no one goes out of their way to point out the numerous historical precedents for dictatorship among christian populations.

    You said yourself that Japan did fine developing a capitalism democracy in the post-war era without Christianity. South Korea and Taiwan did it too. The necessity of the Christian religion in creating stable, capitalist democracies is not only unproven, it is an unfounded assumption.

    Cultural imperialism has no place in this world.

  7. wolfiesma says:

    ZEBBART FTW!

  8. Timothy Hutton says:

    In a way, the tone of some here reminds me of something that happened a few years ago her ein the US of A – the minority party wanted to investigate the majority party over some crazy allegations that they had no hard proof of – the logic was that the aqusations were so serious that they needed to be investigated, even if there was no evidence to support the aqusations in the first place, because the stakes were to high to wait for the facts to become known!

    I feel that people in the military tend to have a strong belief system, they live by a strict military code, they defend principles on a daily basis, and make hard choices on a regular basis – I deeply respect that, and I choose to fill in the gaps in the “reporting” in this case to reflect my beliefs – others apaprently went a different way, and that’s fine – my point is the footage isn’t the “smoking gun” Cory’s title made it look like.

  9. Moriarty says:

    I stand corrected regarding MacDonald’s, then. A more generalized and accurate statement might be that the more trade that occurs between nations, the less likely there is to be armed conflict. That’s one reason why the U.S. and the Soviet Union had a 50 year cold war, and the U.S. and China are good pals.

  10. allenrl says:

    So if you don’t like it, stop bickering on boing boing and go do something about it. Go become someone influential and put an end to it.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      So if you don’t like it, stop bickering on boing boing and go do something about it. Go become someone influential and put an end to it.

      I hear that the Taliban is recruiting. Would that count?

  11. the_boy says:

    @Moriarty #26

    Yeah, the point generally holds true, though – wealthier nations don’t fight wars against each other; democracy (like having McDonalds, like having golf courses) correlates really strongly to wealth. Here’s the link where I pulled that information from: http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/demowar.htm

  12. markfrei says:

    While I doubt it is a popular cause amongst typical Boing Boing readers, perhaps this might drum home the importance of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. While I’d imagine a good majority of gay US servicemen and women are Christian of some flavor, I can’t imagine that any of them would align themselves with the Hensley’s of the world.

    Harper’s has been doing a LOT of feature journalism in this area – it’s worth a trip through the back issues at the library or online if you are keen to learn more.

  13. Xopher says:

    Yeah, when the Christians start swingin’ it’s the slaves who get it. Typical.

  14. eeyore says:

    re: Cultural Relativism

    Cultural relativism is not demeaning, and saying that ‘American Style Democracy’ ( TM ) is not well suited for all nations is in no way insulting or demeaning, and it doesn’t mean that they arent ‘fit for’ or ‘suited to ‘ or ‘capable of’ any kind of representative government. It’s not – to use a popular term on the right – a ‘Code Word’ – unless YOU want to be demeaning or insulting to the people you are talking to.

    It’s not that a people are Muslim, or Christian, or Athiest, or Noodlearian or any other religion, nor that they are not well educated enough ( though that can be an issue ), or any other single factor that makes ‘American Style Democracy’ a bad fit. It’s a commingling of a lot of factors.

    The US has a strong cultural imperative to integrate. Within a generation or two, the overwhelming majority of Americans see themselves as Americans first, and any other ethnic or cultural extraction second. Even within the US, regional, state or territorial loyalties are nearly non-existent and where they intersect the public sphere at all, play out only within a defined political context. In spite of what pundits like Lou Dobbs want you to believe, we are exceptional in this respect… people who come here, and stay here tend to integrate amazingly quickly compared to other parts of the world.

    Much different than a nation where tribal affiliation is held superior to national identity- often because there is no persistent social stability of a wider scope. Where government on a larger scale is seen as suspect at best, and hostile at worst.
    And in regions where national boundaries are defined not by established cultural norms, but by arbitrary colonial border designations.

    We also have 200 years of geographic isolation. While we have not always been a predominant military power, we have generally had a military advantage over domestic threats, and force projection by any other nation was slow, expensive and logistically demanding.

    We are also a resource rich nation, with a tremendously powerful economy which removes many of the constraints of privation – and has for the bulk of our history. Our laws were written, and our national character shaped by enlightenment era ideals, and the notion of secular government has been one we have found worth fighting for since the before the first drafts on the Constitution.

    Lastly, we have one more cultural advantage that is implicit in all of the above. Our most deeply held cultural and social convictions are no more than 250 years old. Unlike many other nations and regions of the world, we don’t have institutions, traditions and rivalries spanning thousands of years. We don’t have to deal with the likes of caste systems, blood feuds and echoes of past empires.

    Remove any one of these factors, and our flavor of governance becomes hard. Remove more than one, which is the case in many of the places defined as ‘culturally unsuited’ to our style of democracy, and we’d be as likely to fail as they are.

    The notion that a people, a region, a nation have to find their own path to a free form of government is simply common sense. Do you really thing american representative democracy will work in a nation whose strongest segment of the economy is the illegal narcotics trade. Whose largest persistent level of social order for the last 300 years has been tribal. Where, for a similar length of time, any form of central authority has been either colonial or foreign military. Where for 2000 years before that, it was seen as a buffer state – a nation between great empires that was kept strong – but not too strong to advance the interests of the great powers around them. Do you believe that a nation like that is going to slide quickly or easily into a federal system with weak states and a strong central government? The nation, of course, is Afghanistan… and the obvious answer is no, it is not.

    We couldn’t even manage a federal system out of the gate. It took 200 years of incremental power grabs by the central government to undo state autonomy in most issues, and now you say it’s demeaning to suggest that another nation, with fewer advantages and more challenges might have difficulty with it?

  15. Timothy Hutton says:

    Wow Cory, did you even listen to the words on the tape that didn’t come from the voiceover?

    The bibles were printed by one serviceman’s church and sent to him directly. He brought them to the church service and discussed it with those in his church group. The voiceover says the soldiers had the bibles printed – this is wrong.

    The soldiers are seen discussing the very rule that prevents them from sppreading their religious belief “in country”, after being prompted by their chaplin. They all knew the regulation, and no one is shown breaking that regulation – instead they discuss it. One soldier offers that it isn’t prostelitizing if they simply hand out the bibles as a gift – that is as close as they get. (I have to believe that if they actually were handing out the bibles, the filmaker would have found a way to capture that – the absence of such scenes weakens his case)

    All Christian churches I am familiar with encourage their members to go out and bring others into the fold – this is not sinister, this is quite common. The sermon/liturgy isn’t specific about converting locals or fellow soldiers, you and the voice over assume they are talking about locals. It is, I have to believe, very common for a military chaplin to use military terms and examples, so his stories and messages resonate with his military followers.

    To put it another way, there is actually nothing wrong here, except the accusations the voiceover makes – but never proves. This “documentary” aspires to be compared with a Michael Moore “documentary”, but it fails to rise to even that low level of accuracy (at least Michael Moore shows people doing bad things, sometimes out of context, but you can actually see something).

    Let’s make a hypothetical, a camera crew comes to a middle school recycling club in NJ (where there is no deposit on bottles and cans), and one of the kids comes in to the meeting and says he has a great idea – we should take the bottles and cans marked for deposits in nearby states (NY, CY, others) and take them there, and get 5 or 10 cents each, we can then use that money to buy carbon credits for our school dance!

    Then teacher stands up and says you all know there is no deposit here in NJ right, and they all say right. Then another kid says “but we don’t know for sure these bottles and cans weren’t bought in CT or NY, why can’t we just assume they were and collect the deposit?”

    Then the teacher says “Let’s talk about it…” and the film crew stops filming.

    This filmaker would say the kids were planning to commit fraud, at a school-sanctioned event (recycling club) and were planning to take them across state lines to commit this fraud, exposing the adult driving the car to federal prosecution, maybe even for transporting a minor across state line for the purposes of commiting a crime…

    The film clip is wrong, and because it apparently resonated with a prejudice/opinion you already had, you apparently didn’t challenge what you heard/saw. Pity.

    Apparently religion is always fair-game at Boing Boing…

  16. Daemon says:

    The Hounds of Tindalos will eat the Hounds of Heaven for lunch.

  17. Chuck says:

    >”Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them into the kingdom. That’s what we do, that’s our business.”

    Weren’t the Hounds of Heaven supposed to be a bunch of Italian werewolves that went to Hell every night to fight vampires? (No luck Googling so far.)

  18. Timothy Hutton says:

    Cory wrote:

    Chief Army Chaplain in Afghanistan distributes local-language Bibles, orders congregation to convert locals

    No, he didn’t. The Chief Chaplain didn’t distribute bibles, he is simply shown giving a sermon – he wasn’t at the meeting shown in the footage where the handing out of bibles was discussed.

    Also, he reminds the congregants that as christians it is their duty to be “soldiers” for Jesus and bring others into the flock – the same as any priest/minister in a christian church in the US. He doesn’t specifically instruct them to convert locals, and the conversion of military personnel is certainly “fair game”.

    Cory went on:

    US Army chaplains in Afghanistan have called on American soldiers to spread the word of Jesus to Afghanistan. They’re distributing Bibles printed in local languages, too — though the Army subsequently confiscated a bunch of the Bibles and reprimanded some of the soldiers involved.

    A video tape of one Chaplain leading a discussion about the possibility of handing out bibles does not mean that all US Army Chaplains were engaged in this (as Cory would have you believe).

    No bibles were distributed in this footage, period. Were any bibles distributed by any soldiers, ever in the middle east conflicts we’ve been engaged in? I don’t know, but there is no such action shown in this footage…

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      he reminds the congregants that as christians it is their duty to be “soldiers” for Jesus and bring others into the flock

      So he’s a Christian Jihadist. Thanks. That makes me feel loads better.

  19. Snig says:

    Toyg@19
    Being facetious, joking on the wigged out wingnut premise that Obama was secretly Muslim. Always reminded me of the smear “Notorious Thespian”.

  20. tizroc says:

    Xopher,

    I recently read an article that they ceased allowing any blogging for deployed personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. I apparently didn’t check the date of the article and after reviewing it was about two years ago and was lifted after a month or so. So yes they did, but no they don’t. Thanks for the correction or I wouldn’t have seen the update.

    zebbart,

    This isn’t an opinion. This is a fact (Both Xopher and I are correct), when you join the military you give up certain rights. This was implied until 1962′s 87th congress sat down and actually made it law. Then it went to the supreme court and was supported. This isn’t something you can agree to disagree about. You can agree to disagree that you like it, you can agree to disagree that it sucks and is against the founding father’s best wishes. That doesn’t make it not so. When you turn 18 and join the military you give up certain rights. This is why a military tribunal doesn’t have the same constraints as a normal trial and why the detainees at Gitmo wanted a regular trial. The presumed innocent, jury of your peers and all the jury people needing to be in agreement are a little different. It is fact.

    I apologize if I have come across rather harsh on this particular post. This is something I have a hard time with. I don’t think people’s rights should be stripped, particularly 18 year old kids who barely understand what they are giving up, or how drastically it can screw up the rest of their lives. I know that a military is a necessary evil in the world of governments and such, but it sucks and I am not a fan of the need of them. I do however give mad props to the men and women of the armed services who provide our country service and who perform their duties with true honor, dignity in the defense of lives. They are heroes and deserve my respect, not so much the dishonorable jerks who give the military a bad name, do despicable, unnecessary and evil things.

    -Tizroc

  21. Keeper of the Lantern says:

    During the Opium wars, the missionaries came over on the same boats in which the Opium was being forcibly shipped into China.

    This would seem an equally mistaken activity and belies how utterly oblivious these types are to the sensitivities of pressing their faith upon others during extremely inappropriate circumstances.

    On the other hand, from these Christian Soliders’ standpoint, the war is between the US and Afghanistan, two earthly kingdoms. They are merely along for the ride and will believe they are commanded to take advantage of this opportunity.

    it’s a bizarre situation that probably no one could “prove” is inappropriate, no less than bin Laden is now laughing about how attacking the US has eventually caused the whole world to wobble through the Iraq invasion and subsequent sacking of the US economy.

  22. WalterBillington says:

    On wars, more specifically terrorists – apologies for the lack of reference, but I do recall a “study” (this can’t have been too hard) demonstrating that all terrorist movements were against a geographically-occupying power.

    Possibly wars were temporarily religiously-based (crusades etc), but now that religion has thankfully lost its potion, passion and attraction, we return to fighting over more pragmatic things than the name of the skygod to whom we supposedly bow.

    Long live god.

  23. Axx says:

    hymn

    Onward Christian sooooldiers, marching as to war! With the cross of Jesus going on before!

    /hymn

  24. Anonymous says:

    In the article on military.com that the original post linked to, they mention that this was taking place in Bagram. It’s ironic that this attempt at evangelization is taking place at the site of one of our torture prisons. (See the movie Taxi to the Dark Side, for more info. Admittedly you can’t condemn an entire base for what goes on in one part of it.)
    Maybe the first step in winning people over to the God of love and the Prince of Peace is not torturing them?

  25. insert says:

    I saw this story, with the video, on Al-Jazeera (the Arabic one, not the English one) yesterday. I imagine that Muslim leaders and the various Muslim streets probably aren’t too happy.

  26. tizroc says:

    Zebbart,

    Uh, freedom of speech is here in the United States. Many countries do not have this right. Next, when you join the military you give up certain rights, so that is kind of expected. Hence they cannot post on blogs (orders), they cannot convert (orders)… do you get the general theme?

  27. Anonymous says:

    Have to throw in my two cents here…

    I think the “we don’t attack Christians” trope has been refuted well enough, but also: North Korea was still fairly Christian in 1950 (as there was no cultural divide whatsoever before we split it using a National Geographic map)–in fact Dear Leader was raised in a very devout Protestant home; and the Serbs, as we remind the world every day, are Christian, and we bombed the hell out of them to save our beloved Muslim friends.

    Iraq with Hussein, also, was considered perhaps the most tolerant country in the Middle-East for Christians besides Israel, a title now surely held by Iran and its client states. But that doesn’t fit with the narrative propagated by US foreign policy or the internet.

    So, yes, it’s money.

    And Afghanistan had a kind-of sort-of democracy that kind-of sort-of worked for much of the mid-20th century; basically a republican monarchy with warlords as local government with no central oversight–basically the GOP’s dream come true. The Taliban in part initially wanted to restore this government, or at least the royal family from that time (which they have). And that went pretty well, right?.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Xopher,

    No one here knows much about the particular situation. I simply admitted it. As I read through the various comments it seemed to me that there was about as much controversy about what had actually happened as about any principles involved. Thus instead of commenting on the events themselves I hoped to comment on some of the motivations behind what the people involved might have been thinking.

    I commented to state my perspective, which as I understand it is one of the core motivations behind BoingBoing itself: as a directory of wonderful things the site and community turn on the blender and add virtually anything.

    I have noted a tremendous amount of strong feeling in the community here regarding politics, religion, law, philosophy, technology, and other common themes. Preaching is done commonly, from many viewpoints– if by preaching you mean declaring a point of view, opinion, or belief. I happened to feel a certain sympathy for some of those being discussed and hoped to express that sympathy and the reasoning I felt was behind it.
    Is there no room for this?

    I’ve been reading BoingBoing for several years. The above was my first comment, as you observed. Are there a certain number of preliminary get-to-know-you comments which are expected before expressing an opinion?

    The nature of both the Christian message and the Christian mission are subjects of the discussion: I intended to make a statement about what both the message and mission are. I didn’t think that was irrelevant, though you may find it boring.

  29. jackie31337 says:

    toyg @19 Er, exactly which “Muslim” did you vote for? Or is “The Muslim” the most recent code-word for “Obama” in wingnut-land?

    Man, I wish they used rhyming-slang, it would be funnier.

    The only rhyming slang I’m coming up with is “yo momma”…. Am I close?

  30. Xopher says:

    They can post on blogs, Tizrock. They just can’t post on blogs under their own names. Hence such bloggers as G’Kar, may he walk in joy.

  31. Brainspore says:

    Goddamit, I thought we agreed that Indiana Jones’ Crusade was going to be the last one!

  32. Xopher says:

    Lucifer, Timothy’s point is that as far as we know the soldiers WEREN’T doing that. Go back and read his posts. He’s saying it appears that they discussed it and decided it would be a violation of GONO, and didn’t do it, and that no bibles were ever distributed to Afghans.

    Whether he’s factually correct is another matter (I can’t tell from here), but he’s not arguing the point you’re arguing against.

  33. tizroc says:

    zebbart,

    Addendum to my previous post.

    “Tizroc, freedom of expression is a universal right, intrinsic to being human. It does not vanish depending on geographic location or organizational affiliation. A person may obey orders to curtail expression, but that’s a free choice. I’m hoping that most boingers, who are usually bold champions of free expression, do not line up on the side of suppression when it comes to soldiers.”

    Wrong. I wish it was right, and while any human can say anything they want the sad truth of the matter is very few countries offer ‘Freedom of speech’. The term ‘freedom of speech’ mean you can say something (reasonable), particularly about your government without the worry of reprisal. However many countries you can be arrested, jailed, murdered etc.. for voicing your opinion. I am afraid you suffer from Ethnocentrism, which means you believe that your way of life and rights follow you around where ever you go (There is A LOT more to it than that, but I am focusing on ONE piece). If you went to China and said something against the government, that is not freedom of speech, that is FREE WILL. You used your free will to say what ever you wanted. Then the Chinese government would be perfectly within their laws to grab you and throw you into jail for the rest of your natural life.

    I do not agree that China should do this. I believe that people should have freedom of speech, as well as other rights all around the globe. I however live in the real world and know that this is not the case, no matter how much I wish otherwise. This is why I support groups like amnesty international, they try to support such rights, and other ideas such great ideas. IF everyone in the world had these rights it would be a much better world. I wish the world existed like it does in your head, but you know the old saying. Put shit in one hand and wishes in the other and see which one fills up faster. So stop trying to say that the people of boingboing don’t support freedom of speech because you do not understand cultures and countries outside your own. In my experience many boing boing people support the freedom of expression, and want those rights for others. I am afraid that however much I detest the thought, geographic region has a lot to do with who does and doesn’t have particular rights.

    In the united states you can be stripped of certain rights in several ways. Two of those ways are 1. Join the military. 2. Commit a felony, you lose your right to vote when you are convicted.

    Again, I do not like, support or condone the loss of civil liberties. I am just reporting the facts ma’am, just the facts. (Okay and a few opinions)

    -Tizroc

  34. Snig says:

    #29
    The bibles were written in local languages, so presumably they were intended for the local populace. “”They weren’t talking about learning how to speak Dari or Pashto, by reading the Bible and using that as the tool for language lessons,” Hughes said.”

    I’ve been told by Christians that I will burn in hell for being a non-Christian. This has been told to me lovingly, sometimes with gifts of literature. I sometimes can find this funny, but I do not enjoy these gifts. Sometimes I find it mildly sinister. The fact it was intended as a “gift” does not make it more pleasant. Were it people carrying guns, who sometimes unintentionally shot my countryment, even if I felt these people were on my side, I’m guessing I would find it sinister.
    It has been used as a PR point by the Taliban, which may be effective in convincing locals on the fence that the US is here for a religous war. This is why US central command forbade prosletyzing.
    Christianity is important to many of my friends and I respect it. I do not respect pushing it all costs in a powderkeg environment when it may lead to more death.

  35. Unanimous Cowherd says:

    Great. Just great.

    Fanatical religion and fanatical militarism, together at last.

    What could possibly go wrong.

  36. jacobian says:

    @20

    Not that I think democracy is the way to go in Afghanistan (it happens to work for us, no reason it necessarily works for other cultures)

    A) The US is not a democracy, it is a republic with periodically elected leaders and almost no control by the public of events

    B) Afghanistan has had assemblies in which deliberation takes places for literally centuries: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jirga

    C) This kind of cultural relativism is both demeaning to other people and nonsensical. Ideas about fair and effective polity aren’t local to a region.

    We could *all* use a bit of democracy. Too bad people aren’t willing to put a bit more back into getting it.

  37. Jack says:

    Glad someone is finally talking about this.

    Oh, and as a Jew (secular) who has some religious loons in his family two things:
    1) Jews can be religious loons as well. Some people don’t get that.
    2) There are tons of folks in the U.S. who believe it’s our obligation to protect Israel not because of moral issues, but because they believe Israel will be the place where a great battle will happen that will bring forth the “rapture”… And in all honesty Jews are simply seen as pawns in the end-game of bringing “heaven on earth”.

    I don’t know about anyone else—and let’s not even get into Israel’s behavior; I agree with you they have issues—but the idea that y whole heritage is being “supported” by a bunch of loons who are waiting for the apocalypse is sick.

    Soldiers and chaplains like this truly believe they are “blessed” because they have front row seats to this mess.

    Good lord, indeed.

  38. Big Ed Dunkel says:

    I always loved jumping off personnel carriers, hitting the dirt under heavy fire, and converting locals.

  39. Anonymous says:

    God forbid there should be any religious freedom.

    Also, #25, South Korea is about 30% Christian.

  40. Timothy Hutton says:

    LUCIFER asked:

    You don’t find anything sinister about the idea of an armed soldier in full combat uniform that bears the flag of the United States of America representing the interests of our nation handing out a bible in one hand while holding a rifle in the other? You don’t see the slight suggestion of a threat in that situation given the history of how people used religion in Afghanistan?

    Personally, I find the mere sight of a soldier in body armour, with a loaded automatic rifle, hand grenades, and a helmet from a foreign country on my country’s soil terrifying – handing out books like a 7th Day Adventist would be way down on my list of concerns. But that’s me.

    I simply pointed out that the footage supplied showed no improper actions – soldiers talking about the rules that forbid them distributing bibles/thumping for Jesus and a Chief Chaplain giving a sermon that wouldn’t be out of place in any number of mainstream Christian churches here in America.

    A more reasonable title for the piece would be “foot soldiers mull activity in violation of General Regulation Number One” with a subtitle “Arabic language bibles confiscated, destroyed”

  41. Timothy Hutton says:

    Being a soldier in the army of the lord is a time-honored image – listen to track one on this Blind Boys of Alabama album listing on Amazon.com

    I saw these fellows at Peter Gabriel concert a few years ago – they are great!

  42. pyrotmaniac says:

    Don’t be so shocked by this folks. I’m on my second tour here in Iraq as I write this. And while I am in no way speaking for the army. I can say that after 5 years service I am so embarased to be a part of this organization, that I lye to people and tell them I’m unemployed. I was raised muslim. While I am no longer practising, I am still sympathetic to other cultures.

    I have often though over the last 5 years, that america would be a much better place if we could expand exchange student programs. with other cultures, not just european.

    Seems like most of america has been isolated for too many years. lets get out into the world and show other peoples that were not all fat racist jerks.

  43. Poustman says:

    Since I know next to nothing about it, I have nothing to say about this particular situation.

    However, many of us who believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the Lord of all humanity are in a position much like those who are against smoking.

    We are convinced that smoking is bad for the smoker. But many smokers either don’t agree, or care, and don’t want to be warned.

    When we urge the smoker to stop, we are ‘cramming our ideas down their throats’. If we say nothing we can’t bear the thought of being silent and just leaving them to their fate.

    To be sure, many other motives enter in most if not all of the time, many of these motives are wretched. And this analogy is of limited value.

    Some who call themselves Christians talk/behave in ways that are just as horrifying to other believers as they are to non-believers.

    Thus, we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified: that is, he took the punsishment that we all deserve, including the punishment we, his followers, deserve, for following him so unfaithfully and inaccurately. And he himself lived well and granted that credit to us, because we can’t and don’t.

    All human beings are drowned in debt before God, for we refuse at every point to be what he intended us to be. Christians are those who admit this, declare bankruptcy, and flee to Christ for protection. All others contest the debt, in one way or another.

  44. Timothy Hutton says:

    Arkizzle asked:

    Why on Earth do you suppose they had bibles printed in the local language, if they weren’t planning on distributing them? What else could they possibly have had in mind?

    As clearly explained in the footage, the bibles were paid for and printed by the church of one of the soldiers in the group, and they were mailed to him by the church. This is what is said in the footage – it is very clear.

    He then said:

    Isn’t the clear assumption that they intended to distribute them, and when the word got out, the bibles were confiscated by the upper levels, to save face?

    No, they didn’t have the intention, a few of the soldiers had a desire that caused the Chaplain in charge of the group to immediately remind them of the rules that forbid such actions, then these kids try to find a way around the rules – and we see the Chaplain engage them in a discussion about that before the footage cuts out. I call them kids, because that is what they are (they all look to be under 25 yrs. old)

    He concluded by asking:

    Perhaps I am reading your point wrong, maybe your only point is with how this story was reported. But the intent of the chaplin’s (or whomever organised the translated bibles) actions seems clear; is it any less distasteful because they didn’t get to follow through with it?

    My original issue was with Cory and his setup of the footage – he claimed it proved things not on the tape. The intent lies with the folks in the church back home (well intentioned folks ignorant of military code – not the soldier that got an (apparently) unsolicited care package of arabic bibles.

    I’d ask you to take a look at the last line you wrote again and reconsider. Yes, I personally feel an aborted heinous act is not as distasteful as a heinous act that goes through to it’s fruition – don’t you agree?

    Xopher – Thanks.

  45. arkizzle says:

    Timothy,

    Why on Earth do you suppose they had bibles printed in the local language, if they weren’t planning on distributing them? What else could they possibly have had in mind?

    Isn’t the clear assumption that they intended to distribute them, and when the word got out, the bibles were confiscated by the upper levels, to save face?

    Perhaps I am reading your point wrong, maybe your only point is with how this story was reported. But the intent of the chaplin’s (or whomever organised the translated bibles) actions seems clear; is it any less distasteful because they didn’t get to follow through with it?

  46. pseudonym says:

    You’re supposed to “win” hearts and minds, not close them by shoving your religion down their throats.

  47. Xopher says:

    Poustman 105: Since I know next to nothing about it, I have nothing to say about this particular situation.

    And yet on you go, boringly and irrelevantly. Going away would be wiser, and certainly friendlier.

    However, many of us who believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the Lord of all humanity are in a position much like those who are against smoking.

    No, you aren’t. You are like people who believe that cell phones cause brain tumors, only you have less evidence on your side than they do. There is scientific evidence that smoking is bad for you in many ways, whereas your “evidence” is evidence only if you already believe it.

    You are just doing what many in this thread have objected to. And it’s your first post here (I think; hard to be sure with the profile system still borked); did you come here just to preach? If so, please do us a favor and take yourself off.

  48. Xopher says:

    All these chaplains should be shipped home in chains. They should be filmed so fettered, and the video given to James Bays, so he can put it on Al Jazeera, along with a profound apology which President Obama should make on behalf of our nation.

    dhamby 18: It’s like…in Ender’s Game, how Ender learned how to speak differently to different people.

    While I don’t disagree with what you say here, your example is ill-chosen, coming as it does from the work of one of the most rabid members of the most proselytizing religion in the world. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) wants to remake the world in its own image, and is damned unscrupulous about how it goes about it. I’m very glad I don’t live in a world run by Orson Scott Card, not that I would survive long in such a world.

    The Boy 36: Cultural imperialism has no place in this world.

    I agree with this whole comment except this final line. Cultural imperialism DOES have a place in this world: its place is to be the enemy.

  49. DWittSF says:

    Just ask the Hawaiians how great the Christian missionaries have been for their islands.

  50. Anonymous says:

    I’m a little rusty in my theology, but what exactly is the hound of heaven? It it anything like P-funks “Atomic Dawg”? because I might be able to get behind a religion that includes Bootsy Collins and George Clinton.

  51. Anonymous says:

    Lt. Col. Gary Hensley needs to be court-martialed.

  52. Anonymous says:

    Maybe he was just wearing his Bad Idea jeans when he suggested this.

  53. Brainspore says:

    @ Dwittsf #44: Hey, at least those missionaries brought dinner.

  54. Xopher says:

    Timothy 74: He doesn’t specifically instruct them to convert locals, and the conversion of military personnel is certainly “fair game”.

    In terms of General Order Number One, perhaps. In terms of actual ethics, not at all. But the ethics of proselytization in general are not the topic of this conversation.

    Antinous 76: So he’s a Christian Jihadist. Thanks. That makes me feel loads better.

    As you’re well aware, Muslim : Jihadist :: Christian : Crusader, and vice versa.

  55. SamSam says:

    There’s a good article in this month’s Harper’s called Jesus Killed Mohammed (subscription), which makes this seem wholly unsurprising.

    It talks about the small but extremely powerful minority of hard-line evangelicals that have taken over the army in the last couple decades, who believe that this really is a crusade of Christians vs Muslims. They believe this is a holy war, but are generally good enough at PR to keep this under wraps. According to the article, there has been a very deliberate, planned, and subversive effort by evangelicals to take over the army, and indeed, many think of the armed forces as the next “mission” in need of conversion.

    The opening anecdote has a tank, emblazoned with the words “Jesus Killed Mohammed” in Arabic and shouting the same phrase through a bullhorn, demolishing an entire neighborhood.

  56. Xopher says:

    Hmmm, if Timothy Hutton is right, and none of the bibles were distributed etc., then my first paragraph at 77 is way wrong.

  57. Xopher says:

    Assuming you’re the individual formerly known as Poustman, Anonymous at 113: No, the propriety of disobeying a direct order in the military, and undermining the mission of the troops in the country, violating the agreement with the country’s leaders, and jeopardizing the already tenuous safety of your fellow soldiers is the topic here.

    The content of Christianity is irrelevant. If the majority of Americans were Zoroastrians, and the population of Afghanistan were deeply suspicious that the American mission included undermining their own faith and converting people to Zoroastrianism, the issue would be the same.

    The fact that your religion directs you to proselytize does NOT give you the right to do it when it’s inappropriate and harmful. Sorry, it doesn’t. Even if your religion were RIGHT in some cosmic sense (which I don’t think it is) you would have no such right. In fact, while the US guarantees you the right to proselytize in a civilian environment, I don’t think that’s a basic human right at all; in fact I think that’s a conflict of rights; it violates my freedom of religion, since you only harass and bother people who are NOT the same religion as you.

    Long-time commenters get more leeway in what they say. Your comment looked like it came from someone who was trolling the web for places to come and preach—and btw preaching and expressing opinions are two different things. The difference is the self-righteous arrogance that comes with preaching.

  58. mr_quetzalcoatl says:

    Jesus Christ Superpower?

  59. Anonymous says:

    Christians, wherever they are, are called to tell other people about Jesus. It should always be done in a gracious way but it’s utterly unsurprising that a “pastor” would encourage his congregation to share their faith.

  60. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the info SAMSAM ! This came up about a year or so ago if my memory serves, and was squashed albeit slowly by the military. Obviously these christians in the military have their own agenda and want to turn the middle east into a hell on earth which they believe will lead to some messiah arriving with news, anger, and the end of the world. I hope they’re not allowed near the nukes, *chuckle*.

  61. zebbart says:

    Eeyore, I understand the military demands existential obedience, and I’m saying that it’s an unreasonable and inhuman expectation. I bet the majority of soldiers who are not military fetishists feel the same way. All the regular soldiers I’ve known (other than perhaps my high ranking uncle) feel that way.

    Antinous, if by proselytizing you mean yelling from the town square and knocking on doors with tracts, you’re right, it’s not necessary. But a person’s beliefs and passions are an important part of his identity, right? To demand that soldiers [further] dehumanize their relationships with people with whom they have close and long-lasting connections by hiding their beliefs and passions is wrong and unreasonable.

    Tizroc, freedom of expression is a universal right, intrinsic to being human. It does not vanish depending on geographic location or organizational affiliation. A person may obey orders to curtail expression, but that’s a free choice. I’m hoping that most boingers, who are usually bold champions of free expression, do not line up on the side of suppression when it comes to soldiers.

    Who is supposed to be the victim of this crime, anyway? As long as the US soldiers are not using the threat of violence as a proselytizing tool, I’d expect most Afghans to robustly defend their own faith or simply shrug off the Christians. If a few are convinced to convert, that’s their right. The fear, I suppose, is that proselytizing will incite the crazy, violent dogmatists there. Is that the sector of the population whose sensibilities should be catered to?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      The fear, I suppose, is that proselytizing will incite the crazy, violent dogmatists there. Is that the sector of the population whose sensibilities should be catered to?

      Do you live in a world with no newspapers or television? There’s not some other part of Afghanistan that the news doesn’t show you where the Cleavers live next to the Huxtables. I’m not suggesting that everyone there is crazy, violent and dogmatic, but it’s a Muslim country. Christian missionaries need to stop getting all up in their grill. I’d be fascinated to hear what you would think if our military were trying to get them to be Satanists.

  62. dapascha says:

    Team Christians, fuck yeah!

  63. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t, “pack the military with your followers,” the first step in creating a totalitarian state?

    Just sayin, is all…

    -jpw

  64. IamInnocent says:

    Sure, let’s make the most new enemies that we can. Let’s infuriate even more those that we already have. Let’s make sure that a maximum of our soldiers die. Let’s institute the Perennial War.

  65. Snig says:

    I voted for the Muslim so that this exact scenario wouldn’t happen. Water, food, sanitation and healthcare are things we should be spreading around the world. Not OK with any tax dollars going to spread their interpretation of Jesus. The rapid faith of these people is something that the doctrine “Don’t ask, don’t tell” actually should be applied to.

  66. eeyore says:

    @ZEBBART #68

    You obviously didn’t grow up in a military family. It is a point of pride for those with a military tradition that they serve the interests of the United States of America as defined by the president and civilian leadership thereof. It is considered a service above and beyond their personal views and opinions.

    In fact, it is one of the most dearly held traditions of the military. You follow any order that is not morally unconscionable, and if you defy that order, you EXPECT to end up in a court martial. If you are confident of your actions, then you may reasonably expect to be acquitted on the grounds that a morally unconscionable order is – by definition – not a lawful one, but you WILL be charged, and you WILL be prosecuted.

    So, in a very real sense, it IS expected that – no matter your personal opinions, convictions or beliefs, you follow orders – and in this case, that includes absolutely no proselytizing of the locals – ever – not for a minute, not on leave, not in a fire fight, not ever – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year no matter how long your deployment. By definition, distributing religious texts is proselytizing

    If it is truly morally unconscionable for you not to do so, then you tell your superior that you are unable to comply with his unlawful order. That is your singular and only option, legally, morally and ethically. There are no others. Period. If you do anything else, you are willfully and intentionally disobeying a lawful order – which is a crime – morally, ethically and practically.

    I know this seems rigid and hidebound and difficult for someone not raised to the tradition, but as it was explained to me, war places unreasonable, impossible and implacable demands on men, and the nations they serve. Those who would serve at any level, but esp in positions of command and authority must be willing and equipped to deal with that – if you aren’t, or can’t – if you are incapable of suppressing that, do not volunteer to serve in that role.

  67. Moriarty says:

    I also read that article, Samsam, and it really depressed me. Guys who actually want a literal holy war, taking over. The only comfort is that those people are a (vocal) minority in the armed forces, which overall is apparently less religious than the public as a whole. These [expletive deleted]s might just ruin it for everyone, though, with crap like this. The only people who want a holy war more them is Al Qaeda.

  68. volkscamper says:

    Aren’t nearly all wars religious wars. When was the last war we had with a Christian adversary? Even the Spanish-American War was against a Catholic nation, a religion that many fundamental Christian groups consider un-Christian. Georgie-boy Bush “claimed” to a born again Christian though that’s hard to believe. He picked the war we now have with a non-Christian nation on this pretext or that. Do you think he would have invaded a Christian country? Heck, look at the Crusades. BE CHRISTIAN OR BE DEAD. Reminds me of the idiotic saying of decades ago of “I’d rather be dead than red”, or New Hampsire’s “Live free or die”. Life is precious no matter the religion, if any, or the curent state of politics.

  69. Timothy Hutton says:

    ANTINOUS responded with:

    So he’s a Christian Jihadist. Thanks. That makes me feel loads better.

    Jihadist?

    You miss the point, this is what the preacher says to the grey haired old ladies on Sunday, the priest says to the children in confirmation class, etc. This is nothing more than a charge to spread God’s word, various people/religions do this in various ways, some put on suits and go on ministries, some print up pamphlets and hand them out at airports, some simply strike up conversations with their neighbors. All are spreading the word – period.

    Bottom line, this Chaplian would likely have used the same sermon were he back in Indiana (or wherever), and it would evoke the same reaction from those congregants. The filmaker is trying to make a sensationalist movie about a non-story, and judging by the posts here, it’s working.

    The real story here is you have Christians talking about spreading the word of God, debating various ways of doing it, and they consider some bibles they were given, which it turns out they can’t use, based on the well-known “General Order Number One (which they all seem to know, based on their responses when asked about it). I am aware of no denomination of Christianity that prefers to keep their beliefs secret, nor any other major world religion.

    These soldiers are free to practice their religion in their way, on US Soil and with American citizens, they can not do so off base, and they all seem to know this (see General Order Number One, above).

    As Officer Barbrady from Southpark would say:

    Move along people, nothing to see here – Christians talk about spreading the word of Jesus all the time…

  70. dculberson says:

    The real way to minister to people is spreading water, food, sanitation, self-sufficiency. Throwing bibles at people after tearing down their house doesn’t make them amenable to your message.

  71. Anonymous says:

    For more examples of this happening at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado, go rent (or *cough* torrent) the film “Constantine’s Sword”.

    It is a much more in depth discussion, and yes Hutton, specific examples are given of not just rank and file soldiers trying to enforce Christianity within the US Military, but also that edict coming from the command structure itself.

    It is truly disturbing, and shows why sometimes the world views the US as the mirror image of the enemies we claim are religious terrorists.

    Et tu, Brutus.

  72. Cardinal Biggles says:

    All it will do is confirm AQ/Taliban propaganda that the USA is seeking to destroy Islam. David Kilcullen and the other pragmatists in the military trying to extricate USA from Afghanistan must be tearing their hair. One step forward, two steps back.

  73. Xopher says:

    Zebbart, when people join the Army, they give up certain rights civilians have. For example, they are under the UCMJ, not civilian law. They don’t have the right to speak in uniform without orders.

    And you’re wrong about your last paragraph. They do NOT have the right to proselytize while they’re in Afghanistan. They’re ordered not to do it, by General Order Number One, and they are required to obey that order. That order is in place for a good reason: proselytizing soldiers feed the enemy, and support their narrative rather than ours. “The moral is to the physical as three to one,” as—was it Napoleon?—said.

    So no, they don’t have the right to undermine the mission. But even if your last paragraph were true, your phrase ‘As long as the US soldiers are not using the threat of violence as a proselytizing tool’ negates your point. They ARE. You don’t have to point a gun at someone’s head to threaten them with violence. All they have to see is what’s become of their neighbors or their cousins when they defied an American demand, and they’re in a state of the fear of violence at your hands.

    If you then proselytize at them, you’re using the threat of violence as a tool, regardless of your intention in the matter.

  74. Anonymous says:

    The hypocracy of so called religions never ceases to amaze me.

    How can you be a servant of Christ and be in the army? Didn’t Jesus say something on the lines of; “Love thy neighbour” & “Turn the other cheeck”? And yet it seems, that being a chaplain in the army is OK. An organisation that by it’s very nature is opposed to all that Jesus (if he ever existed) stood for.

    Please show me, how the two can be reconcilled, especially in this particular context. I mean this is hardly self defense, is it. If you are a combatant in a war, especially an unjust one and you kill the enemy how can this be justified. Isn’t that murder?

    Or is this just that weird form of Christianity that only seems to exists in the States. You know the strange mix of the Ten Commandments and the New Covenant; you know the bit were Christ specifically said that the Ten Commandments were to be superceeded by only two rules; “Love God & Your neighbour as yourself”.

    Personally for me it is these sort of examples that just reinforce my Atheism. Relegion is nothing but a manifestation of our evolution. The sooner we ditch it the better off we shall all be.

  75. dhuff says:

    Hmmm…people being paid for by our tax dollars doing this. And having military force on their side to boot.

    This is wrong and scary on so many levels I almost can’t wrap my head around it. And I’m a Christian myself (Episcopalian variety).

  76. WalterBillington says:

    This is silly.

    The OLD principle of separating church and state still and always will apply. Mad f*ckers shouldn’t be given guns, and certainly not this lot.

    The sky-dogs would be turning in their … oh hold on … something wrong there.

    Anyway, it’s all bad, silly, and deserves firing anyone involved. Pratts.

  77. certron says:

    There was a segment just this morning on Democracy Now on a very similar topic and using some of the same footage, http://www.democracynow.org/2009/5/6/the_crusade_for_a_christian_military with a little bit more expository material involved. The transcript should give you a pretty good idea, but the video and audio of the discussion are quite interesting.

    The two people interviewed for this segment are “Mikey Weinstein, Air Force veteran, his book is With God on Our Side” and “Jeff Sharlet, whose cover story of Harper’s Magazine, author of the book The Family [The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power].”

    The evangelical vein runs through the military from top to bottom. The rules are in place for a reason. That they would put their religious directives above their military directives is troubling at a minimum.

  78. Anonymous says:

    I’m still trying to wrap my head around how we got from “fishers of men” to “snake-eaters who hunt men for Christ.” I question the religious credentials of the chaplain corps.

  79. dhamby says:

    Ok, this is basically a problem of simple linguistics.

    The way that you speak from one military member to another military member is completely different from how civilians speak to each other.

    It’s like…in Ender’s Game, how Ender learned how to speak differently to different people.

    A spiritually zealous person will be pursuaded by the mere fact of being zealous to “spread his message.”

    Either way, there will always be zealots in the military, we will always be fighting zealots.

    This is how things will always be (sorry Ayn Rand).

  80. dragonfrog says:

    @35

    “Full rack o’drama”
    “Batik Pajama”
    “Black Panchen Lama”

  81. Lucifer says:

    #41 TIM HUTTON: “All Christian churches I am familiar with encourage their members to go out and bring others into the fold – this is not sinister, this is quite common.”

    You don’t find anything sinister about the idea of an armed soldier in full combat uniform that bears the flag of the United States of America representing the interests of our nation handing out a bible in one hand while holding a rifle in the other? You don’t see the slight suggestion of a threat in that situation given the history of how people used religion in Afghanistan?

    Leave the prosletyzing to missionaries. Soldiers are there to do the tasks that policy makers need them for.

  82. dainel says:

    #7 volkscamper, Panama is 80% Catholic and 20% Evangelical. Grenada is 50% Catholic, 30% Protestant, and 15% Anglican. Germany was 2/3 Protestant, and 1/3 Catholic before World War II.

  83. jjasper says:

    UPDATE – KABUL (Reuters) – Bibles in Afghan languages sent to a U.S. soldier at a base in Afghanistan were confiscated and destroyed to ensure that troops did not breach regulations which forbid proselytizing, a military spokeswoman said.

    So despite what Timothy Hutton, the Army brass is not tolerant of that sort of thing.

    Trying to convert Muslims to another faith is a crime in Afghanistan. An Afghan man who converted to Christianity was sentenced to death for apostasy in 2006 but was allowed to leave the country after an international uproar.

    Nice going to whatever moron who had those bibles translated.

  84. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely not my “land of the free” country. I’m repulsed that christians are using the military as a vehicle – it seems completely inappropriate. Culture and diversity should be sacred, not targets for homogenization. I’m repulsed by our country, and the ongoing Mission. Something should be done about this…

  85. Anonymous says:

    To be fair, most Christian denominations ask their followers to be witnesses and spread the good news. It’s not at all clear to me that the ‘hunt people for Jesus’ comment was a specific direction to go out and convert Afghans.
    I also haven’t seen evidence that any Bibles were actually distributed.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/04/soldiers-in-afghanistan-g_n_195674.html

  86. Timothy Hutton says:

    SNIG quoted:

    The bibles were written in local languages, so presumably they were intended for the local populace. “”They weren’t talking about learning how to speak Dari or Pashto, by reading the Bible and using that as the tool for language lessons,” Hughes said.”

    No one asserted anything else – everyone agrees the bibles were intended for the locals – the folks back in US of A that paid for and printed them out, the soldier they sent them to, the chaplin that questioned their ability to pass them out (under their standing orders, regulation #1), nor the “documentary” filmmaker. Everyone agrees that was the intent. Now, apparently, so do you. OK, what about it?

    Cory’s original post indicated that the bibles were confiscated, which means they weren’t distributed (the bibles in the film, anyway, though oddly, Al Jazerra got one and gave it to the filmmaker/voiceover guy).

    I never said the soldiers were right, and I never said they were wrong, because they never actuall did anything for me to judge! The bibles weren’t handed out, the chaplin’s sermon was mis-interpreted (using “military speak” in a sermon caused Cory and the Filmmakers to confuse analogies with orders from a superior).

    SING went on to say:

    Christianity is important to many of my friends and I respect it. I do not respect pushing it all costs in a powderkeg environment when it may lead to more death.

    Prosletyzing is wrong, and those that do it under guise of the US military, either by wearing thier uniform OR by implication (a six foot two white guy with read hair speaking english about Jesus won’t be confused for a local, and will be assumed to be an American) should be punished, period. Just as military men aren’t to express political views while wearing a uniform, officially, the military is apolitical and no good soldier would express personal opinions while wearing their uniform, I believe it is a punishable offense.

    You got soldiers, christians, and nutjobs – some folks are in one group, other two, and only a special fraction of the entire population of several hundred thousand in the middle east can lay claim to straddling all three groups. In this video clip I saw folks fimly in the first two groups, and some of them were on the verge of slipping into the third group, but the footage cuts out before that happens. What this footage actually documents is some christian soldiers considering prosletyzing, but they appear to be stopped short by their Chaplin…

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      a six foot two white guy with red hair speaking english about Jesus won’t be confused for a local

      No, in Afghanistan, he’ll be mistaken for Prince Harry. Except for the Jesus part.

      But you seem to be under the misimpression that Afghans belong to some alien little dark race. Afghans are hard-core Caucasian. Full range of hair colors. Lots of blue or green eyes. Pale (albeit sunburned) skin. You’re looking too hard at the beard and the turban and not hard enough at the person wearing them.

  87. gollux says:

    That’s gonna’ go over well. Must want the Taliban back in full force killing his buddies.

  88. Sleepy says:

    @11 WalterBillington,

    Sad to say, the separation of church and state is not an old principle at all, and actually has very weak foundation in this country. While I’m a very strong advocate of such separation, the truth is that there is very little firm support for it in our founding papers and in the courts. Jefferson had many great things to say on this topic, but little was codified. The first amendment says nothing about any “separation” (only briefly referencing an establishment of religion) and subsequent Supreme Court precedent is flimsy (see, e.g., O’Connor’s opinion in Lemon). It just shows that we need to push for a more solidified foundation of such separation, or else risk episodes like those discussed in this article.

  89. Moriarty says:

    No, not all wars are religious wars. Most are ultimately about economics. We have certainly fought “other” traditionally Christian nations (if you buy that the U.S. is inherently Christian, which I do not), but no two nations that both contained at least one McDonald’s franchise have ever gone to war.

    Of course, religion is such a convenient and obvious motivator, that those in power will rhetorically make it about religion whenever feasible. In fact that’s probably a significant reason why religions successfully spread as memes – religious societies have more motivated warriors.

  90. Xopher says:

    Arkie, the church back home had the bibles printed and sent them to the soldier in the Icebox. Timothy is saying that neither the chaplain nor the soldier himself had anything to do with having them printed; that they were just discussing what to do with them, and that they never actually distributed them.

    Whether they decided not to on their own, or whether they were stopped just in time by the confiscation of the bibles, is an open question. If the former, they really did nothing wrong, even by intention. They discussed whether it would violate GONO, decided it would, and didn’t distribute them. That’s nothing wrong even under UCMJ.

    But if that’s what happened, why were they reprimanded? I don’t have a complete picture yet of what happened. Probably won’t get one.

    But again: per Timothy’s reading, the folks back home, who as civs were completely unaware of GONO, thought “wow, what an opportunity for evangelism to the heathen [soldier's name] has,” ordered the bibles, and sent them to the soldier. This is very wrong of them IMO, but certainly not illegal, and if events transpired according to Timothy’s theory neither were the actions of the soldier or chaplain.

  91. dross1260 says:

    “God willing, we will prevail in peace and freedom from fear and in true health through the purity and essence of our natural fluids. God bless you all.”
    General Ripper

  92. zebbart says:

    Tizroc, I know the soldiers do not have *freedom* of expression, but I’d say they have a *right* to that freedom and it sounds like you agree. While *freedoms* may be offered by governments, rights are intrinsic. When someone’s rights are violated we should oppose that, and I have been trying to point out the inconsistency of people who normally defend freedom but here have lined up on the side of suppression. “Anti-piracy” laws, censorship laws, etc. may be perfectly legal in USA and UK, but we oppose and resist and disobey them because they either violate people’s rights, or they just suck. Thanks for the repsect, maybe our disagree is just semantic, unless you are cheering about the Bibles getting confiscated and the soldiers reprimanded.

  93. Nylund says:

    Remember when Ann Coulter said, “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”

    I guess someone was listening. And that scares me.

  94. AlexG55 says:

    Jack@552- true (I’ve encountered some) but Jews don’t proselytise to non-Jews. Of course, that doesn’t help us secular Jews much…

  95. toyg says:

    SNIG @5: “I voted for the Muslim so that this exact scenario wouldn’t happen”.

    Er, exactly which “Muslim” did you vote for? Or is “The Muslim” the most recent code-word for “Obama” in wingnut-land?

    Man, I wish they used rhyming-slang, it would be funnier.

  96. zandar says:

    “who believe that this really is a crusade of Christians vs Muslims.”

    You mean it isn’t? Now I’m confused.

  97. arkizzle says:

    Xopher,
    thanks for your clarifications.
    _______

    Timothy,

    Firstly, @100 I probably wrote abruptly and without due consideration of the facts, considering the incredulous tone I replied to you in, and for that I apologise.

    While I agree, the footage is not necessarily the damning proof that it is presented as (not even by Cory, but by the program itself), it isn’t either a negation of the situation as presented.

    To be honest I hadn’t seen the footage, I read the linked article and that was that. I just watched the footage now, and beyond a lack of crime-in-progress-caught-on-camera, it doesn’t really disprove the notion (which is not only presented in this footage, but also in the experience of (at least) the film-maker) either.

    I suppose I just didn’t see the footage as “proof”, necessarily, more of the televised part of the general story which was being reported. I can totally see why you would though, it is central to the claim. But, as you say, there is more to the story than what happened on the tape.

    Here I also confess to not having read the whole thread, so you may have other fact-sources (or heresay at least) than the tape, but it is the tape we are discussing, so bear with me.

    + While one of the men does say “my chuch.. raised money.. printed bibles..” etc, we don’t know if it was at the soldier’s request or not.
    + You are right, that the men are only discussing the options regarding prozelytizing vs gift-giving, but we don’t see the resolution of the conversation (intentionally, for better dramatic effect, I have no doubt).
    + And while the footage does not show the men distributing the bibles, we know that the film-maker was only there for three days. Your assertion that he must have been able to get that footage if it happened is a bit absolute for my liking..

    However, as you are saying, we don’t have all the facts. And I am not here to argue this at all, just to come-clean and clarify my thinking. And sorry if the three points I made above have been roundly defeated upthread, but I don’t have time to read it all!

  98. Shelby Davis says:

    Not that I think democracy is the way to go in Afghanistan (it happens to work for us, no reason it necessarily works for other cultures), BUT if you’re under the persuasion that electing your leaders and becoming America-like is the best outcome for all nations, there’s pretty good precedent for using Christianity to try to accomplish that. Think MacArthur in Japan (“true democracy [will] endure when it rests firmly on the Christian conception of the individual and society.” turns out the missionaries weren’t necessary, but it’s a prevalent way of thinking) I have my doubts that trenchantly Muslim nations CAN, by and large, adopt a democratic way of life–not that that’s a bad thing.

  99. Anonymous says:

    Religion has always been a tool to control the less educated masses, this is just one step further along the same old path.
    Sometimes I wonder what should happen to trigger a giant global war “smarties-vs-fundies” that would end this idiocy forever.

  100. Anonymous says:

    Sorry to have to break the news to the “Chaplain”, but Jesus says he can’t be a soldier

    Matthew 26:50-But Jesus said to him: “Fellow, for what purpose are you present?” Then they came forward and laid hands on Jesus and took him into custody. 51 But, look! one of those with Jesus reached out his hand and drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest and took off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him: “Return your sword to its place, for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father to supply me at this moment more than twelve legions of angels?

  101. Cowtown2 says:

    @ #6:

    The military may be less religious in terms of attendance at services or strict observation of all the niceties, but I suspect the percentage of military personnel who believe in an active and anthropomorphized deity is not far off from that of the general population.

    I’m open to being convinced, though, so any info and links would be greatly appreciated.

  102. Anonymous says:

    Yes, let’s make sure we spread democracy and freedom, just not freedom of religion.

  103. zebbart says:

    So the the government sent a bunch of Americans to Afghanistan, they’re distributing bullets and bombs at high velocity, and Bibles with (presumably) a smile and a handshake. And the outrageous part is the Bibles? What about freedom of expression and the value of cultural discourse? It’s not reasonable or right to expect soldiers to subvert their personal identity for 24 hours a day for 18 months straight. It’s not reasonable or right to expect any employee to be the face of the “company” and not himself, especially when having intimate contact day after day with fellow human beings. The only problem I see with this proselytizing is the power imbalance created by the violence in the situation, but the violence is the part to protest, not the religious conversation.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      It’s not reasonable or right to expect soldiers to subvert their personal identity for 24 hours a day for 18 months straight.

      I’d be interested in seeing research on the need to proselytize being an intrinsic part of personal identity. Is this a clinical diagnosis and, if so, shouldn’t it prevent one from being given a weapon?

  104. Moriarty says:

    @Cowtown2 #21:

    It isn’t far off. I don’t remember offhand, but in that same Harpers article it quoted statistics showing the percentage was slightly lower overall. Of those who are religious, though, the number and influence of batshit evangelicals is considerably higher.

  105. Anonymous says:

    Talking about a global war against terrorism is bad.. Giving credibility to the extremists of both sides who want people to think it is a war of cultures, and good versus evil, is beyond belief.

  106. urshrew says:

    The military did the right thing by confiscating the religious text and investigating the incident. These guys are endangering their fellow soldiers by potentially inciting an occupied population, who is mostly composed of completely different religion then theirs.

  107. Anonymous says:

    Two words: Holy War

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