Posts Tagged “bibles”

This is one of those stories that has a backstory to it. The US military had to burn a batch of Bibles that had been sent to Afghanistan, and the Religious Right (such as the American Family Association) is furious about it. First, the story about the burned Bibles, as reported by CNN:

Military personnel threw away, and ultimately burned, confiscated Bibles that were printed in the two most common Afghan languages amid concern they would be used to try to convert Afghans, a Defense Department spokesman said Tuesday.

The unsolicited Bibles sent by a church in the United States were confiscated about a year ago at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan because military rules forbid troops of any religion from proselytizing while deployed there, Lt. Col. Mark Wright said.

US military personnel in Afghanistan are specifically forbidden to attempt to proselytize there. While one could suppose these Bibles were intended for the troops, it just so happens that they weren’t in English, so they would not have been used by US military personnel:

The Bibles were written in the languages Pashto and Dari.

This means they could only have been intended for distribution to the locals. That’s forbidden … hence the confiscation. The Bibles were then burned by the military for show, to demonstrate to the Afghanis that US military personnel won’t proselytize there.

The backstory to this is that the Pentagon admitted to this — it happened about a year ago — only after Al Jazeera English broke a story, a couple of weeks ago, about evangelical Christian personnel, led by their chaplain, whom they had video of, discussing how to missionize to the locals:

Note in the video the chaplain discussing “hunting men.” (What a fabulous way to win friends and influence people, in the heart of a country which can be hostile!) Also note that the soldiers specifically mention General Order 1, which among other things prohibits the proselytizing they plan to engage in, and cook up a rationale to get around it. Now nice!

By releasing news that the Bibles shown in the video had already been destroyed, the Pentagon hoped to quell the inevitable outrage in the Muslim world. Unfortunately this also kicked up the outrage among the Religious Right, here in the US, that I mentioned earlier. They’re actually lying about it, in fact, e.g. in the AFA report I linked to:

Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis (USA-Ret.) is a Pentagon adviser and military and national security analyst. He finds it mind-boggling to think that military officials would allow Al Jazeera to walk through the front gate of a forward operating base and videotape soldiers conducting a Bible study.

Unfortunately, Maginnis is in error. The video footage of the chaplain-led Bible study was not made by Al Jazeera personnel. Rather it was filmed by an American, who’d caught wind of what these guys were doing and taped them (covertly, I assume, but perhaps not).

I hate to say it but the Religious Right is, itself, directly responsible for this Bible-burning episode. Had an evangelical Church not shipped Bibles translated into Pashto and Dari — to their cohorts within the military in Afghanistan who knew about General Order 1 expressly forbidding this activity — it never would have happened. The R.R. needs to grow up and take its lumps on this one. Then again, the R.R. is not generally known for its maturity, so I suppose this would be too much to expect of them.

Of course, if the Muslims of Afghanistan were more mature about things, there would be no need for the Pentagon to have made such a big point of destroying the Bibles. Their sensitivity to the possibility of missionary activity by US military is entirely unnecessary and is itself and a product of their own insecurities and immaturity.

This whole compound story exemplifies what a colossal waste of time and energy all this metaphysics is. Haven’t you had enough of it, yet? (I know I have.)

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