Video of military proselytizing surfaces


Mikey Weinstein says he’s found video proving what he’s been saying for years — there’s proselytization going on in the U.S. military.

This Al-Jazeera report shows U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan with local-language Bibles, and raw footage released by the network includes a discussion in which soldiers appear to be discussing how to distribute Bibles without running afoul of the military’s rules against proselytization. At one point, someone says that proselyitzing isn’t around, but "you can give gifts."

"Share the word of God, but be smart about it," says the chaplain.

"This video clearly shows that fundamentalist, evangelical Christians within the U.S. military are putting their fellow soldiers at extreme risk by attempting to convert Afghans to Christianity," said Weinstein, president and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. "These inciteful actions are grossly offensive to not only Muslims in Afghanistan and across the world, but to all those who hold faith in the U.S. Constitution.  The United States’ armed forces are not on a mission to impose a Christian God on those who believe in Muhammad.  We are fighting a fundamentalist terrorist threat in Afghanistan that is hell bent on destroying America’s rights and freedoms."

The military, according to this Reuters report, says the Bibles were never distributed:

A U.S. military spokeswoman, Major Jennifer Willis, said … chaplains were told to make clear to soldiers that they could not proselytize while serving.

She said the bibles had been mailed to a soldier by a church back home in the United States and were never distributed.

"That specific case involved a soldier who brought in a donation of translated bibles that were sent to his personal address by his home church. He showed them to the group and the chaplain explained that he cannot distribute them," she said.

"The translated bibles were never distributed as far as we know, because the soldier understood that if he distributed them he would be in violation of general order 1, and he would be subject to punishment."

She said she was aware of at least one case of a soldier who had been punished for giving out coins that had biblical inscriptions on them.

The military also says that the comments in another portion of the Al Jazeera video fromm a sermon by a military chaplain were taken out of context. "The special forces guys — they hunt men basically," says the chaplain. "We do the same things as Christians, we hunt people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down." The Al Jazeera report does not make clear who exactly the chaplain was urging his listeners to hunt.

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