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By Joseph DeCaro
The detainees were part of almost 400 volunteers from 25 countries that had gathered near ancient Philippi to participate in a mass Bible distribution project called Operation Joshua 6.
Although most of the New Testament was originally written in ancient Greek, very few Greeks have their own Bibles because they believe it can only be understood and interpreted by Orthodox priests, theologians or academics.
Yet Greece has its own Bible Society, which has produced a modern Bible translation approved by the Greek State church; this translation — endorsed by four patriarchs of the Orthodox Church — was distributed by Hellenic Ministries during the Operation Joshua campaign.
However, the campaign has been strongly opposed by Greek civic and religious leaders who have condemned Hellenic Ministries as a cult even though there has been no attempt to enlist members into the movement, or to entice Greeks away from the teachings of their Bible and its Patriarchs.
Notwithstanding, some Orthodox priests have instructed their flocks to burn the scriptures being distributed by Hellenic ministries because "it cannot be a holy book if it is distributed by heretics"; others have threatened legal action and even physical force to oppose Operation Joshua.
"We are gathering almost 400 volunteers, who come to join us at their own expense …," said Steve Dutton, International Director of Hellenic Ministries, "yet, the work that they are doing is seemingly opposed at every turn. This sort of attitude is extremely difficult to understand from a country which claims to be a Christian country with ties to the early Apostles, the birthplace of democracy and with a constitution that today guarantees religious freedom."