December 11, 2010

Persecution in the Military?

Yes, I am putting a question mark on the title of this one. I would like to hear from you about what I am about to relate. (If you are going to fire off anti-God or anti-Christian venom, you'll just be deleted.) I am especially interested in the opinions of military personnel, past and present.

There was a story I heard about how "the armed forces confiscated the Bibles of soldiers in Afghanistan and burned them". I hate sensationalism, so I had to check it. There is an element of truth to this, but...

In 2009, a soldier received Bibles that were printed in the two most common Afghan languages and, being evangelistically minded, was going to hand them out. Those are the Bibles that were confiscated and burned, even though the story I heard implied that the personal possessions of soldiers were taken away, and that is not the case. The reason these were taken away is that the US military did not want to give the impression that they were there to convert the Muslims. I can understand that, one soldier in an American uniform is essentially representing the military and, ultimately, the United States. 

This is a tough call for Christians. We are called to spread the Gospel (Matthew 28.18-20), but we also have to obey laws. If solders are issued a "gag order" and told that they can never speak of their faith to the Mulsims, then the verse about "obey God rather than man" could very well come into play.

But still...burning the Bibles is all right? That does add fuel to the fire (heh!) for claims of persecution. It seems rather heavy-handed as well.

Any thoughts from you in the military? Or others, of course.


Whateverman said...

I've never been in the military, but still, I think my opinion has merit:

Perhaps burning the Bibles was hasty. People might be offended by destroying them in this way, when it seems like it wouldn't have taken much effort to simply confiscate and send them elsewhere.

However, I wasn't there when it happened, and I don't know the circumstances involved. All I can do is imagine just how much trouble they might have caused if the wrong person found even one of them. The Christian/Muslim conflict's been raging for a long time, and it wouldn't take much to reignite those fire in a war zone where religion and government are closely tied. Maybe a single one of those Bibles would be enough to undermine months of effort the troops spent building trust with the locals?

Short answer: I don't know if burning the Bibles was the right solution, and I probably never will. It's easy to imagine, though, that the military would see them as a potential threat to the stability they're trying to build.

Stormbringer said...

I think your comment does indeed have merit. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

This comment was sent to me privately:

"I know a lot of people in the military and from what I've been told, there is some harassment that goes on against Christians more so than any other. Christians are not allowed to stand up for their beliefs but it is ok for a Muslim soldier to opt out of duty because it is against his faith to hurt another Muslim. It isn't right. You have a duty to protect this country and regardless of race or creed you are, there is a responsibility.

As far as the Bible burning was concerned, I wrote about this a while ago. Their reasoning for burning the Bibles (that were sent by a soldier's church) was because there was fear that it would increase the danger and hatred from their enemies. In a fundamental mindset about Islam, that is a understandable presumption. However, when one is educated in the teachings of Islam, one knows that they already have an intensified hatred. We are interfering on their jihad. They are already in a holy war and to pretend it isn't one is just foolish. By passing out Bibles, you're not instigating a battle, you're doing the ONLY good thing for them. Promoting a peaceful message even if they don't want it.

It was wrong to burn the Bibles and it is wrong to treat Christians badly in the military. The military isn't about religion, sexual orientation, or social status. It is about duty and honor."

Rhomphaia (Sword) said...

People that I've known who have been in the mission field teach converts to "take the consequences" as Christ took His.

There is a time to fight, but in relation to evangelism, most teach that we are to do it and take the consequences as the Lord did.

One blogger said "Teach them about Christ and we won't have to fight them again."

...I'm offended that our government would burn the Bibles personally. We are America. WE stand (stood)for freedom. How can we say we want to bring freedom (of religion) and democracy and burn Bibles sent to the soldiers?
And how can we have a 'commanding presence', if we are bowing to the rules of the enemy? Lunacy.

Something is terribly wrong with this.

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