Thursday, May 21, 2009

An interesting conundrum

It recently came to light that the US military burned a bunch of Bibles in Afghanistan.  The reason behind this is that a soldier received them from his church, but the military has rules against proselytizing. I understand the military's stance on the issue - we can't appear to be Crusaders seeking not only geo-political change but also theological.  But as a Christian how do you work with these rules? Personally I've always taken the position that if you join the military you follow the rules given whether you agree with them or not, but I wonder if there are members of the Mod-Blog readership that see the issue in another light.


Nomad said...

I do have a slightly different position on this.

1. It was appropriate for the military to seize the Bibles. It was a violation of the rules of the military and of the country in which they were stationed.

2. It was INAPPROPRIATE to burn the Bibles.

The problem here is not how the soldier was treated, but how the Bibles and the donating church was treated.

If the Bibles were not useable, they should have been returned to the church (even if it was at the church's expense) so that they could be reused elsewhere. There are pashto and dari speakers here in the USA who likely would have welcomed a shipment of free Bibles. The excuse that "they were worried they'd be reintroduced into the country another way" is simply wrong-headed and punishes the church for an imagined "crime".

Second, burning a book has a deep symbolic meaning to Americans. It is the way we treat the WORST books about whose content we are trying to make a political statement. Trash books are thrown into a landfill. EVIL books are burned. By burning these Bibles, it is (admittedly unintentionally) sending a bad message, and essentially saying to every Christian who donated toward these Bibles, "Their faith is more important than your faith."

I realize the army was in a tough place here, and am sympathetic to those involved. But if you ask me if this was the right call, the answer is a RESOUNDING no.

shadowmom1 said...

Compare this to the reverence we have to treat the Koran with at Gitmo. It is fine to insult Christians, but not Muslims?

Nomad said...

A comment from Twitter: "it's actually ez.:Proselytizing is illegal. If WE gave Bibles, Afghanis could b killed by Taliban. It would be our military's fault (via @pay4this)"

quizwedge said...

I agree with Nomad that they shouldn't have burned the Bibles, but rather shipped them back at the church's expense.