Bagram Bibles

bagrambiblesOn May 4, 2009, Aljazeera posted a video showing senior US military chaplains encouraging service members in Afghanistan to proselytize local Afghans. They provided local language Bibles as resources to accomplish this task. The video shows one leader standing in front of a crowd giving a sermon encouraging this activity and another in a more intimate setting equivocating about the legality and ethics of proselytism. Aljazeera was most likely not concerned about the Constitutionality of the action. They were most likely using the incident to incite national and local opposition to US forces. US regulations against proselytism, especially in combat zones, exist for a reason. Those who violate these regulations put our service members in danger for their own personal agenda. This continuing culture of open evangelism through our nation’s armed forces is unconstitutional and dangers, and the Department of Defense must show that it will enforce these regulations.

MAAF provides specific examples of enforcement actions that are necessary: Initiate investigations of the two chaplain leaders listed in the film. Given clear video evidence, this should lead to court martial. Dispatch inspector general personnel to investigate further violations at Bagram. Issue a new policy that Bibles specifically be limited to personal Bibles and chaplains stores not to exceed that required to service the Christian service members on post (because any additional Bibles could only be used for proselytism of non-Christians).

MAAF further asks the public and the media to wait six months and then ask ourselves how the Pentagon has reacted. Will the Pentagon enforce their regulations, or will these chaplains be given the “evangelist’s promotion” that so many others have received? If history repeats itself, the Pentagon will conduct a cursory investigation and hand out ineffectual punishments. The guilty parties will be promoted in their due term with nothing but accolades from their ecclesiastical endorsing agency and their fellow chaplains. Once again pro-Christian, anti-military activities will be tacitly encouraged. Our new Presidential administration has a largely unchanged Pentagon, but we can hope that the new administration will allow Pentagon leaders to actually enforce Constitutional, Equal Opportunity, and general officer prohibitions preventing proselytism in uniform. MAAF also invites these chaplains, if they are truly committed to their duties as chaplains to support all service members, to sign onto MAAF’s Minimum Statement of Support, a simple and straightforward commitment to provide services to all service members without prejudice to a specific faith group.

Source video and regulation

Media Coverage

Related Stories