Bible Burning in Afghanistan?

May 25 2009

Published by at 4:28 am under Military History

Yes, Bibles were burned, but not as portrayed

BotB Verdict:

mostly_bilge

Average Number of Times Received Daily at MOAA: 5

Important Update – May 25, 2009

As reported by PolitiFact, the video and destruction of the Bibles took place over a year ago, making this story/email a clear distortion of fact. I’m changing it to mostly Bilge. This happened under the Bush administration, so any mention of Obama ordering it is pure inaccuracy. Here’s the relevant passage from PolitiFact:

The Pentagon under the Obama administration did “just acknowledge” that the Bibles were confiscated. But it’s important to note that the prayer meeting video was shot a year ago, and so the Bibles were confiscated and destroyed under the Bush administration. The clear implication of this advertisement is that soldiers aren’t allowed to have their own Bibles, but that’s just not true. The incident in question involved one soldier, not soldiers.

Summary

A true event takes on a life of its own on the web, when the Pentagon orders the destruction of a number of Bibles that were printed in languages native to Afghanistan and sent to a soldier by his church. The destruction order came just days after a damaging video was released by Al Jazeera showing a Chaplain urging soldiers to ‘hunt people for Jesus’ (a metaphor of course for souls). Some groups took the opportunity to lay the blame on President Obama and ‘Anti-Christian’ forces.

The Most Common Email

BREAKING NEWS: Pentagon Burns Soldiers Bibles – Military Chaplains Attacked

The Pentagon under the Obama Administration has just acknowledged seizing and burning the privately owned Bibles of American soldiers serving in Afghanistan. The Bibles had been printed in the local Pashto and Dari languages, and sent by private donors to American Christian soldiers and chaplains, for distribution to American troops on overseas military bases during optionally-attended Christian worship services. Had the Bibles not been seized and destroyed, they could have legally been given as gifts during off-duty time to Afghani citizens who welcome our troops in their homes, as an expression of American gratitude for Afghani hospitality, promoting the democratic ideals of freedom of religion and freedom of the press.

But the Muslim controlled Al Jazeera television network obtained video footage of the Bibles, held by American soldiers while listening to a chaplain on the Bagram Air Base (inside the base chapel) whose sermon encouraged outreach and personal evangelism. The American values of freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of Christian speech offended some extremist Muslim groups, and angered a small group of American atheists, who demanded the chaplain be punished for “proselytizing” because he simply repeated Jesus’ words to “Go and make disciples of all nations” in church.

IT’S NOT PROSELYTIZING, IT’S EVANGELISM:

The video proves the chaplain properly explained U.S. Central Command’s General Order Number One, which prohibits “proselytizing” (forcing religious conversions using military weapons) but fully permits soldiers of any religion to engage in non-threatening “evangelism” (voluntary conversations about their faith) and legally allows giving private gifts, including books, to Afghani citizens during off-duty hours in their unofficial capacity. The Al Jazeera film-maker Brian Hughes also admitted the Bibles could have been useful in helping soldiers learn the Pashto and Dari languages of the Afghan people.

Instead, the privately owned Bibles were confiscated and destroyed. Caving in to pressure from the Muslims and Atheist groups, the U.S. military spokesman Maj. Jennifer Willis told Reuters reporters, “I can now confirm that the Bibles shown on Al Jazeera’s clip were, in fact, collected by the chaplains and later destroyed. They were never distributed.” When questioned about the authenticity of the Al Jazeera video, U.S. Army Colonel Greg Julian admitted the Al Jazeera reporting was biased against the American Christians: “Most of this is taken out of context … this is irresponsible and inappropriate journalism.”

Aggressive anti-Christian secularist Mikey Weinstein immediately demanded the chaplain in the video be court-martialed for encouraging voluntary evangelism in church, despite the Pentagon’s claim that same chaplain somehow assisted in confiscating the Bibles. …[T]he enemies of religious liberty won’t be satisfied until every Christian is silenced, and every chaplain booted from the military like I was, for the “crime” of worshiping in public.

Editors Note: I’ve removed some parts of the email that has been passed around due to calls to action and fund raising language (shown below) and for brevity and clarity.

Origins

The video from Al Jazeera (click here to watch on Youtube) was the spark that made this fire catch on, and the Reuters article was the first listing of what the military did in response to the Bible donations. Another contributing factor to the spread of the story was revelations regarding former SecDef Rumsfeld’s use of biblical quotations on daily briefings to the President, which is detailed here.

Evaluation & Comment

The reaction online has been surprisingly muted. While some groups are trying to twist the facts, like the email that seems the most prominent, most are taking this for what it is – an orders and regulations issue. The first line of the email above – “The Pentagon under the Obama Administration has just acknowledged seizing and burning the privately owned Bibles of American soldiers serving in Afghanistan.” is a gross misstatement as it makes it appear that the military is rounding up soldier’s personal Bibles and setting them in a heap to burn. This incident concerned just one soldier who received foreign language Bibles from his own church.

MOAA’s Directer of or Public Relations, Colonel Marv Harris, USAF (Ret), contacted the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs and reported back the following:

OASD/PA says that an individual’s church sent Bibles translated into local languages to him for distribution. He went to his Chaplain asking what to do. The Chaplain, rightly so, counseled him about the rules against trying to convert people to another religion. Trying to convert Muslims to another faith is a crime in Afghanistan. Rather than ship the Bibles back to the donating Church and risking that they might get into civilian hands in that area, leadership elected to put them into a dumpster. Dumpster contents are burned in Afghanistan. The individual involved is not being punished. He did not ask for the Bibles and followed the chain of command in telling about them.

It is clear that the bibles in question were donated by an American church for the purpose of distribution by service men and women as ‘gifts’ to Afghans in their off duty time. What is also clear is that this is an attempt to circumvent DoD regulations on attempting to convert Muslims in Afghanistan, which is against Afghanistan laws. Another part of the email contained the following:

DONATIONS supporting public religious education CAN ALSO BE MAILED TO: [redacted]…Part of your donation will go toward shipping Pashto Bibles to Afghanistan.

It is usually a good idea to be weary of emails with explosive tones that then ask you to give money to an individual or a group, especially when that money is going to go towards shipping more Bibles to Afghanistan, which will only result in a repeat destruction. Additionally, the attempt to damage the reputations of military Atheists and of the President by using this incident as a catalyst – “…the enemies of religious liberty won’t be satisfied until every Christian is silenced, and every chaplain booted from the military…” – exposes the plain bias of the email.

All other issues aside, it is never a good idea to destroy books, especially holy ones. As many have pointed out, what if this story involved the burning of copies of the Koran? The outrage would be endless. Of course, the differences in probable reactions speaks volumes about how difficult this war is, not only in Afghanistan but also in Iraq, Pakistan and all across the Muslim world.


Further Reading/Tools

Original Reuters Article
The Al Jazeera Story
The Al Jazeera Tape with Commentary from the Huffington Post


You Can Help

Remember that forwarding a message you read but are unsure of without checking the available resources helps contribute to the Bilge. Help us battle it, and if you haven’t seen us write one of them up, email it to us here.

18 responses so far

18 Responses to “Bible Burning in Afghanistan?”

  1. Ayo Ogunleyeon 23 May 2009 at 12:56 pm

    That is the definition of Obama’s moral authority. Death to the child in the womb just because he/she has not been born. Freedom to practice gay. But no to religious freedom like carrying the bible. Pray, if the soldiers inpossession of the bible let it be their private property. They can just be forbidden fron transferring it but why take it from them to be burned. now the true Obama is coming out. The real moral world, not Obama’s kind shoukld gety ready for the anti-christ.

  2. Matthew LoFiegoon 25 May 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Sir, the prayer meeting video and the confiscation/burning of the bibles happened under the Bush administration, further research has revealed. Interesting that this piece of information did not make it into the email or conservative message boards.

  3. Joeon 27 May 2009 at 6:01 am

    Well, he still kills babies in the womb!

  4. Richard Bakeron 23 Jun 2009 at 9:29 am

    Centcom General Order 1-A over the signature of General David H. Petraeus, prohibits religious proselytizing by American personnel to native Afghanis and Iraqis.

    The accounts of the efforts by military chaplains to circumnavigate that order and allow their religious beliefs to bastardize the constitutional relevance of that order, leads me to believe that the chaplains and their accomplices have committed acts in direct contradiction to that orders.

    It is certain that the chaplains, responding with such weak and patently false excuses such as the bibles were privately owned and only to be passed out in friendship to receptive Afghanis and Iraqis while visiting in their homes might be convincing to those already in the thrall of religious hegemony but is so lame as to be ridiculous to the objective observer.

    It is clear that this form of coercive and overt proselytizing is the work of the Christian Reconstructionists or Evangelical Dominion Christian Movement in pursuit of a blown out of proportion “Great Commission.”

    It is also certain that the depth and breadth of this operation
    would not have been possible without the knowledge and acquiescence of supervisory level personnel well up into the chain of command.

  5. Lesleyon 23 Jun 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Regarding this portion, “Aggressive anti-Christian secularist Mikey Weinstein immediately demanded the chaplain in the video be court-martialed for encouraging voluntary evangelism in church…”, there are several issues of fact.
    1. Mikey Weinstein is not anti-Christian, nor is he a secularist. One might better describe him as a Constitutionalist, protected the religious freedom of all Americans, most notably those in uniform.
    2. The reason Mr. Weinstein recommended court martial of the chaplain is because, on the unedited video, it is plain to see that the chaplain deliberately instructs the men serving in Afghanistan with him, regarding how to break the law, how to circumvent General Order 1A, as though that were possible.
    3. More information, by far, can be found at this website: http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org. It was not listed among, in the article above, but it is an excellent source of further information regarding the illegal use of religion within the military.
    Military and former military members should remember their oath, and then recall that the Constitution is secular, our government is secular, and the reason is to protect all of us from being abused on the excuse of any religion.

  6. savedron 31 Jul 2009 at 11:13 pm

    1. It happened under Bush and Patraeus, not Obama. Obama didn’t take office until 2009, where this happened in May 2008.

    2. The bibles weren’t for soldiers’ personal use, unless those soldiers happen to natively read Pashto and Dari. They were printed in Afghan languages specifically for Afghanis.

    3. Afghanistan is a very traditional Muslim cleric-ruled government. Many statements from the Koran are enforced literally.. like the statement that says any Muslim converting to Christianity must be killed. If Afghanis were found by extremist groups to have been cooperating with American troops (or anyone else) to spread Christianity, their lives (and most likely their families’ lives) would be in danger.

    4. How much more insurgency do you think would be incited by Afghan natives believing that American troops are in Afghanistan converting Muslims to Christianity? You’d basically be CREATING a holy war where one doesn’t exist!

    5. Obama’s support of abortion has NOTHING to do with this matter, especially since Obama himself has nothing to do with this matter. I’m a Christian myself, a pretty good one, and I voted for the guy. I don’t support abortion, ever.

    But the only way we will stop him from passing pro-abortion legislation is through political action. REAL action. Contacting our senators and representatives. Raising awareness in America, and getting our fellow countrymen to make a decision and BACK UP that decision with action.

    If real people try to change the government and the government doesn’t listen, then we have the constitutional right to overthrown them. Did you know that? The American people actually have the right to overthrow their own government should it cease to serve us.

    But I don’t think we’re to that point yet. Obama hasn’t actually done anything yet! Let’s see what he’s planning, and if we don’t like it, take political action first. Then, if that doesn’t work, we take government back into our own hands.

    (As an alternative to living in fear, in the dark.)

  7. sam mohamadon 01 Aug 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Islam should be abandoned worldwide so that those brainwashed Moslems can start to use their brain and wake up and think. The world can not abandon Hitler and Communist idiology and allow Islamic idiology. Islam founded by a gang leader for his sexual and financial needs. Certainly many feared their lives and juined him and many more loved his sexual promiscuity and idiology and joined. 1400 of brainwashing prevent Moslems to think. Any athiest and sexual preditor can not teach worse that what Mohammad taught and practiced. Today non Moslem sexual preditors at least don’t kill to protect their addiction. Islam hateful verses in the Quoraan must be taken to courts world wide and prosecuted. Moslems are taught to cheat non-Moslems so now we will hear some say that only AlQuida did these things and they are peaceful and believe in Peaceful religion. No, Islam is not peaceful it means Submission and kill and hate all non-Moslems. The Quoraan must be abolished and prosecuted espicially in the Western world. We want Moslems to have the freedom to use their brain to think and decide about their life. Worshipping Mohammad’s teaching is worshipping teaching of sexual addict and gangster would only lead to distruction. They believe in weak Alat or as now they call Alah who require people to defend it. In deed because it is the god of the moon needs people who are terrorists and gangsters to defend it like Mohamad and his gang for 1400 years. What a weak Samad (Stone) alah they worship what is found in Mekah. I hope they wake up because their destiny is important to themselves as anyone else in the world. We love them, but hate their devile sexual idiology.

  8. Jim Reid, CW4, USA (Ret)on 04 Aug 2009 at 8:51 pm

    I’m glad “sam mohamad” writes so eloquently.

  9. Matthew LoFiegoon 05 Aug 2009 at 9:11 am

    And it is so refreshingly cordial…

  10. Mindyon 31 Aug 2009 at 9:27 am

    Have you heard about the American Bible Society’s Bible challenge for kids? It’s perfect for a Sunday school class project with the goal of raising money for the U.S. military to have Bibles. Check out this website: http://www.truthfortroops.americanbible.org/ for project ideas!

  11. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Paul K Estes, Political A. Science. Political A. Science said: http://j.mp/aqv1Vw RT @Theblacksphere When Bible gets burnt, no outcry, but burn a koran & the freaks come out. WTH! #TCOT #tlot [...]

  12. [...] to burn copies of the Christian Holy Book [2] on Halloween. The United States has officially confiscated and burned Bibles in Afghanistan [3]. Such incidents didn’t result in Christians storming the streets, howling in outrage or [...]

  13. [...] Lesley Shure, a Texas doctor with no apparent connection to either Colorado Springs or Michael Weinstein, last defended Weinstein in the “Letters to the Editor” section in the awkward family feud that played out in the Colorado Springs newspaper last year.  She also defended him as “not anti-Christian” on another site. [...]

  14. jeffon 16 Apr 2011 at 10:04 am

    ISIAIh 41 BRING forth your IDOLS did they PREACH to you see they can’t speak they can’t DO ANYTHING all they do is cause confusion. spalms 115 and spalms 135 thier IDOLS are FALSE cant speak can’t hear cant smell and those that make them shall become like them. Jeremiah 10 they nail their IDOL down like a scarecrow it can’t move can’……t speak can’t move must be carried these are nothing but the WORK of CON men.john 10 jesus christ sais his sheep hear his voice and another voice thy will not follow and if another person tries to preach to them they WILL FLEE from him. jeremiah 5 the priests bear rule on their own authority what will you do when your judged my word is not inside them. Now here is the kicker john 5 son of man voice goes back in time mathew 16 jesus christ claims to be the son of man.‎1 cor2 mind of CHRIST preached internally and john 16 sais the spirit of truth comes in the future. Ezekiel 13 lying prophets of ISRAEL my word is not inside them saying god sais god sais god sais wrote hoping mankind would CONFIRM their WORDS. all of this is EASILY verifiable

  15. Eric Pearsonon 02 Jun 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Under the leadership of President Obama, our Commander and Chief, in Afghanistan, U.S. soldiers who were sent much desired Bibles from back home were ordered to burn them because they might inflame the natives, those fundamentalist or ‘devout’ Muslims. Since they were in a Muslim country it became military policy to burn them. It gets even better as the throw up swells in my mouth. Their policy is to burn trash and that is what the military labeled the Bible gifts as, trash.

    Read at: http://www.unitedstatesgovernmentnews.com/?p=478

  16. Genoon 23 Jun 2011 at 9:24 pm

    It’s not an issue of just rules and regs. It’s an issue of hypocricy. Obama say’s there’s no reason to burn the Holy Koran but the Holy Bible is OK to burn. Common sense dictates they should have been returned not burned by the military. What kind of military officers organization is this anyway.

  17. Matton 24 Jun 2011 at 6:04 am

    Again, this incident took place in 2008 under the Bush administration. President Obama had nothing to do with it besides acknowledging that the Department of Defense confiscated and subsequently incinerated the bibles.

    Source: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2009/may/18/pray-jesus-name-project/bibles-sent-soldier-afghanistan-local-distributio/

    “The Pentagon under the Obama administration did “just acknowledge” that the Bibles were confiscated. But it’s important to note that the prayer meeting video was shot a year ago, and so the Bibles were confiscated and destroyed under the Bush administration.”

  18. B' Kelleyon 24 Oct 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Bible burning…this book of truths cannot be eradicated by fire…all you are doing is destroying fiber…paper and text…unlike the Koran once destroyed this book will continue on until all time ceases…this is the true history and word of God…!!!

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply