Tuesday, May 05, 2009

U.S. military destroys Afghan Bibles

Yesterday, Qatar-based Al Jazeera television showed soldiers at a Bible study on a base in Afghanistan with a stack of Bibles translated into the local Pashto and Dari languages.

Today, the U.S. military denied that its soldiers had tried to convert Afghans to Christianity and that the Bibles sent to a U.S. soldier had been confiscated and destroyed to ensure that troops did not breach regulations which forbid trying to convert people to another religion.

My question is, did these soldiers act improperly? If you listen carefully to the video, you recognize that these men were aware of their orders and were trying to follow them and their Lord. Is this not similar to the dilemma that Christians who serve in the police and military from the first century onwards have often faced when their orders conflict with their faith?  Was the military correct in destroying these Bibles?  Please give us your comments.  Please note our comments policy, however.


Angel said...

I can understand the military not wanting their soldiers proselytizing on the job, but to actually destroy the Bibles ... I don't agree with that. How is that respecting our faith?

didymus said...

Yes, they were correct in destroying the Bibles. They need to send a clear message that 'no, the military does not engage in proselytizing'. The US military needs to be purely nonreligious in order to carry out its function correctly there in Afghanistan. It is not as some might think (and others would like to portray) a 'mighty Christian crusader army there to convert the heathen Muslims'.

For us, burning the Bibles is just destroying paper and ink. We can always print new ones and give them to other more appropriate organizations, or individuals, to distribute.

Anonymous said...

Didymus said, "For us, burning the Bibles is just destroying paper and ink."

Ummm, I disagree. Burning a bible is more than that. It speaks volumes. It is a symbolic act as well as a mere destruction of paper and ink. And when you add to that the Muslim perspective and how sacredly they treat the paper and ink of the Quran, it would communicate a desecration of the most serious kind.

Anonymous said...

Destroying the Bible is totally wrong! Our country which is founded in Judeo/Christian belief used the Bible as it's foundation. Our military who is our defender from any foreign aggresion is an agency of this great country and must represent us in our values and belief!!! We are not proselytizing here but merely sharing the good news and it's up to them their own free will to decide. Our military personnel if they are trully are christian are just doing their jobs. Our leaders shld. stop capitulating and appeasing our so called friends compromising our values and beliefs in exchange for political correctnes!!!

Anonymous said...

I do agree with the statement made that the destruction of Bibles communicated in a way that the Muslims would have understood very well; a statement that "would communicate a desecration of the most serious kind." That action is more culturally and religiously insensitive to the Afghan Muslims than if they had allowed the soldiers to hand out the Bibles in the first place.

I'm really tempted to get into the whole "our country which is founded ..." discussion. My hand keeps hovering over the keyboard, ready to start my tirades, but I will resist temptation. I will end with only one stab "Answer not a fool according to his folly."

Bene Diction said...

CENTCOM's General Order 1-A and the numberous violations of it have been well documented in the US.
US Christian TV hosts were embedded in the miliary and expressly broke military rule.

When complaints were lodged the files were 'lost'.

Hundreds of complaints have been laid by military personnel about evangelising and materials sent to them by groups such as Soldiers Bible Ministry:

We also have videos, like the one below of a chaplain admitting that Swahili language Bibles are being sent in to Iraq to evangelize the Ugandan workers employed by the U.S. military, newsletters from a plethora of evangelical ministries boasting of the number of Arabic Bibles and other materials they've been able to get into Iraq and Afghanistan with the help of our military, photos of these evangelizing materials, and many other videos, photos, and statements from military personnel verifying that what is shown in the Al Jazeera video cannot be explained away as an isolated, out of context incident." MMFF

This is a volunteer army. They are breaking code and I hope the organizations and military responsible are held fully responsible for such blatent violations.

Any idea if any covert Cdn fundamentalist organizations are asking Cdn troops to violate their oaths?

US military command are aware of these ongoing complaints and Al Jazeera knowing the military would deny have released the raw footage of that video. US military chaplains are fed up.
They, the people of the countries they occupy and US military personnel should not be sujected to such blatent bullying to violate codes.

Anonymous said...

Our country was not founded on the Judeo/Christian belief system. It was founded on enlightenment ideals. Jefferson and other founding fathers knew that democracy would not come at the hands of priest.

These soldiers knew that what they were doing was wrong. Do they not respect the uniform they wear? Do they have no regard for the law? Do they realize that their actions could have endangered other soldiers?

Glenn Penner said...

I am a little surprised that few of you are really addressing the issue of civil disobedience. Christians are often called upon to disobey orders and laws that call for them to disobey what they believe are biblical mandates, such as evangelism. If you don't like evangelism, fine. But try not to let that colour your thoughts here. The issue here may also be one of the right of the state to control your personal religious beliefs and actions.

Bill Yeo said...

Having been a missionary, and having missionary friends in Muslim countries, I appreciate the zeal that Christian ministries and Christian soldiers in the US army have for sharing their faith in Jesus Christ, especially in closed countries like Afghanistan.

But I question the appropriateness of evangelism that is 'piggy-backed' onto military ventures. For those who are on the receiving end of such evangelistic methods, is the gospel being underminded by the associated military ventures? Is the gospel being confused as being a part of the military venture? And are missions organizations that have been on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq being undermined by such efforts? I fear the answer to these questions is "yes".

While I affirm and encourage Christians to answer to a high power - Jesus Christ - over the objections of their military superiors, I must question the appropriateness of these efforts. The message being sent of "a Saviour in Jesus Christ" by the very people who are killing Afghanis and Iraqis - by people who are seen as occupiers of their country - seems dubious and suspect.

Yes, these people - Afghanis and Iraqis - need to hear of Jesus Christ and His death and ressurection, His offer of forgiveness, I question whether members of a foreign military are the proper messengers of this message.

Joel Mawhorter said...

Ignoring for a moment the obvious hypocrisy of handing someone a Bible that says "love your neighbor as you love yourself" while you are engaged in killing or helping to kill your neighbors, I wanted to address Glen's question about civil disobedience. When we allow any earthly authority to overrule Christ's clear teaching, we are engaged in rebellion against Christ and have no right to claim the name Christian. If our earthly authorities tell us we can not engage in proclaiming the truth about Christ, the choice is clear. However, this raises a deeper issue. Why would people who claim Jesus as Lord ever sign up for a job that required them to relinquish their freedoms so fully that they had to choose between obeying earthly masters and Jesus? This is fundamentally different than having the government in the country you live tell you that you must disobey Christ. Believers in China, through no fault of their own, were born into a country who's rulers commend them not to follow Jesus. The choice they have is thrust on them. People who join a military, willingly give up their freedom to authorities who oppose the work of Christ. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:21: "Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.)" Why would this not apply to those who might go into the military, which is essentially voluntary slavery?

A previous comment said that "The US military needs to be purely nonreligious in order to carry out its function correctly there in Afghanistan." Scripture repeatedly teaches against the idea that we can carry out our proper function correctly and be "non-religious". Such an idea is a dangerous undermining of the complete authority of Jesus and a denial of the complete depravity of man, essentially a false gospel. It is true that the U.S. military, like any other earthly military, can not properly carry out the purpose for which it exists while at the same time being in submission to Christ but the solution to that is not to insist on rebellion against Christ.

Anonymous said...

The bible is just a history book that has been sanitized by the church. So what if it is destroyed. Print them in English only not in the muslim languages. Remember Muslims also believe in Abraham and one god.

Glenn Penner said...

Never heard of Muslim languages before. Guess no Muslims speak English as a first language? I think you've been reading too much Da Vinci Code-type literature if that's what you think the Bible is.