Outrage Over US Military Bible Burnings In Afghanistan

Friday, May 22, 2009 | Tag Cloud

By Worthy News Chief International Correspondent Stefan J. Bos with reports from the United States and Afghanistan

WASHINGTON/KABUL (Worthy News)-- The president of a US-based group helping Christians persecuted for their faith has expressed outrage that United States military personnel have burned confiscated Bibles in Afghanistan.

"It really should shake the core of every Christian to realize that Bibles are being burned," said Carl Moeller President of Open Doors USA in an interview with Mission Network News monitored Friday, May 22, by Worthy News.

The Bibles, printed in the two most common Afghan languages, were burned amid concern they would be used to try to convert Afghans, the Cable News Network (CNN) quoted a a Defense Department spokesman as saying.

The unsolicited Bibles sent by a church in the United States were confiscated about a year ago at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan because military rules forbid troops of "any religion" from proselytizing while deployed there, Lt. Col. Mark Wright said.

Such religious outreach can endanger American troops and civilians in the devoutly Muslim nation, Wright added.


"The decision was made that it was a 'force protection' measure to throw them away, because, if they did get out, it could be perceived by Afghans that the U.S. government or the U.S. military was trying to convert Muslims," Wright said.

The military said a soldier at Bagram received the Bibles and didn't realize he wasn't allowed to hand them out. The Al Jazeera network has shown footage of the Bibles at a prayer service where an unnamed soldier says members of his church raised money for them.

The chaplain later "corrected" the soldier and confiscated the Bibles, Wright said.

However military analyst and Pentagon adviser, Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis, criticized the move. "There is no need to burn the Bibles. They could have been shipped back," he said. "Just imagine if we, the same the United States military, were to take a bunch of Korans and burn them. I can imagine the ramifications across the world."


In a statement, the Pentagon said military officers considered sending the Bibles back to the church, but they worried the church would turn around and send them to another organization in Afghanistan -- giving the impression that they had been distributed by the U.S. government.

There is reportedly a tiny Christian minority in Afghanistan, however especially former converts can faith death because of their faith, several rights investigators have confirmed.

The row over the Bible burning comes shortly after the Pentagon announced this week that it no longer includes a Bible quote on the cover page of daily intelligence briefings it sends to the White House as was practice during the George W. Bush administration.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said he did not know how long the Worldwide Intelligence Update cover sheets quoted from the Bible. Air Force Maj. Gen. Glen Shaffer, who was responsible for including them, retired in August 2003, according to his biography.


On Thursday, April 10, 2003, for example, the report quoted the book of Psalms —  "Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him. ... To deliver their soul from death." —  and featured pictures of the statue of Saddam Hussein being pulled down and celebrating crowds in Baghdad, reported the Associated Press news agency.

"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand," read the cover quote two weeks earlier, on March 31, above a picture of a U.S. tank driving through the desert,  according to the magazine, which obtained copies of the documents.

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, has said U.S. soldiers "are not Christian crusaders, and they ought not be depicted as such."

"Depicting the Iraq conflict as some sort of holy war is completely outrageous," Lynn said in a statement. "It's contrary to the constitutional separation of religion and government, and it's tremendously damaging to America's reputation in the world."

While the policy was controversial, supporters said it was aimed at relieving some of the stress faced by President Bush, as the death toll of American troops continued rising in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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23 thoughts on “Outrage Over US Military Bible Burnings In Afghanistan”

  1. {{{ The chaplain later "corrected" the soldier and confiscated the Bibles, Wright said. }}}

    "For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels." Luke 9:26


    "There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God." 1 Samuel 2:2

    Hosanna LORD, Save Now!


    • Try living abroad under other countries' rules while trying to exercise the ones you enjoy every day. We still have more freedoms than the 'free' peoples living in other nations.

    • The US was not founded solely on the Christian faith. It was founded on FREEDOM OF RELIGION. All of you that want to burn the Quran and call yourselves Christians are not acting Christ like. Just think about the hatred that you are preaching by doing so. Therefore, you are not doing the works of God, but the works of Satan. Give yourselves a big self-righteous pat on the back.

  3. When I first read this news story, I thought it quite alarming to know that Bibles were burned by our military. But I stepped back from my emotional reaction to do a little thinking.

    First of all, being a male American Christian who has never had to serve in the armed forces, I'm thankful to God first and also to those past and present who've served our country in military service during war and peace. And since today is Memorial Day in the U.S., I got to thinking that we as a nation do not send our armed forces overseas as a conquering bunch of Christian crusaders. But it appears that radical Islam must think that we do.

    So I can see why the miltary might have reacted as they did. I just don't like the idea of burning Bibles. They could have returned them to the U.S.

    I'm also considering a few things here since there are not more details to the story.
    #1)---Were the Bibles actually burned, or did the military just "announce" publicly that the Bibles were burned in order to keep radical muslims inside and outside of Afghanistan from going beserk?
    After all, the Taliban's push in neighboring Pakistan doesn't need a little "emotional fuel" from Al Jazeera reporting that the American miltary is "really trying to conquer and convert" Afghanistan.

    #2)---I guess the easiest way to get Bibles into Afghanistan in the native languages is to send them to an American soldier or soldiers stationed there. Hopefully churches in the U.S. will see this story and be moved to send more Bibles into Afghanistan through Open Doors and any other organizations that know how to get Bibles into Islamic-dominated countries.

    #3---God bless the soldiers stationed in Afghanistan who are Christians, saw the need for Bibles for the Afghan people, and got their home church(es) to send them.

    #4---Remember in 2 Timothy 2: 3-4, Paul tells Timothy: "Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs--he wants to please his commanding officer."

    I wish the military didn't have to have this "force protection" measure, but I understand why they do. May God give strength and wisdom to all our great young men and women serving in Afghanistan, and also to their commanding officers.

    • Pete, I don't think Open Doors were being "strategic" or anything. They are very good Christian organization, which makes most of our stateside Christian organizations seem quite lame. They are unique as they deal with Christian martyrdom on an everyday basis-something many evangelical churches quietly sweep under the carpet. When some churches back home here are content to preaching "health and wealth", they are out there living, telling and dying the truth. I truly believe if the Commander out in the field had simply sent those Bibles back to them with a note explaining everything, they would have understood.

      Bless the heart of the airman, or airmen and their good intentions. But the Chaplain could have showed a little more courage. He could have made a stance against the burning. Sadly this is more in keeping where the Chaplain Corps is heading as of late.

      As I write this, there are Chaplains in the military who compromise their faith,let Christian programs fall by the wayside, at the cost of those airman, sailors, marines and soldiers' souls, simply because their leaderships, who aren't believers order them, and they don't want to put their careers in peril by rocking the boat. Such a situation happened in Naples, Italy. The Christian Chaplains work for a Rabbi, and they have let many Christian programs fall by the wayside. But they are not alone. Read the vehement letters on Stars and Stripes, or in the Military times by those controlled by satan, and they say that the Chaplain Corps should be done away with. Its ironic how unbelievers quote Jefferson on "Separation of Church and State" , but totally forget the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment, "nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Those Chaplains are there to be ministers to those who are serving of their faith." Unfortunately, they have let the "separation of church and state" jack booted thugs bully them into not even ministering to those who are of their same faith. Thus I safely conclude that it is the Separation of Church and State Bullies that are denying people the right to worship their own way while serving. So who is really the villains?

  4. After hearing of this grevious sin, I found a range a emotions from disbelief to anger. This order of burning God's word came out of fearing mans religion and never took into account the fear of God's wrath!
    Please contact your senators and all representitves for answers to who really gave these orders and pray ever so hard for God's forgiveness; if forgiveness is possible.

  5. I don't care what your beliefs are, it is totally hypocritical to be against book burning but then say its okay in this case. The military is not in the poition to be burning them either, ( the little hitlers) If the military wants to have good repoir with fellow Americans when they return, they best stop offering excuses. This is bad for recruiting, retention and makes our guys look like a bunch of goose stepping huns! The officers initiating the orders need to be relieved. Separation of Church and State....what a bunch of hypocrites. Poor reflection on us Americansl. Barry Lynn you are hypocrite and may the Lord you don 't acknowledge rebuke in such a way that you will regret you ever opening up your mouth. The Lord will deal with all who defend such foolishness! what goes around will come around. So IT SHALL BE in Jesus name.

  6. If they are afraid of what the enemy might do for having Bibles, then they best not be in the military. There is no excuse or justification for burning Bibles; they could have been given to troops, Afganian Christians, or sent back. I'll re-iterate what FresnoJoe said, “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.” Luke 9:26

  7. Grow up.

    'God's word' cannot be burned. If you genuinely believe that God's word could be so easily destroyed, your own faith is in serious jeopardy. It's as ridiculous to complain about this as it is for a Moslem to complain about burning the Koran. It's a book - there's plenty more where they came from.
    Quoting scripture is no substitute for rational thought (and what's the point of the quote about shame? There's a difference between being ashamed and being intelligent). If you genuinely believe that the US military is doing God's work in Afghanistan (which is definitely up for debate), unless you are a military strategist it might be wise to keep your thoughts to yourself.

    Their concern is completely valid - the role of the military is not to put Islam under the sword (regardless of what tenets of Old Testament bigotry you subscribe to). At this point, they are attempting to ensure that the military and humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan are not jeopardised by the perception that they are engaged in some sort of religious mission (which they're not).

    Burning the Bibles is certainly a little OTT, although as 'Pete in Texas' says, how does anyone know they were even burned?

    Congratulations to the afore-mentioned Pete for engaging his intellect before ranting. Every church has a strategy of some description for 'making the world a better place'. What makes you think the US Military is likely to be any different?

    • Finally, I read a response that is logical. What is all the noise about burning a book? God's word lives in me and supposedly everyone else. If we burn the bible, does that some how imply that we have burn Jesus and he no longer exists...I think the world has lost it!

  8. Actually, there was a report of US soldiers using a Qur'an for target practice in Iraq. We are not in Afghanistan to convert people, change their government or destroy their poppy crops. We are there to capture Osama so lets capture him and bring our boys home.

  9. I do not think any book should be burned for the Lord God since his is not here but in Heaven does not answer to every one in his righteous ways.. The Bible that we have to day is in an altered states from its own translation brought upon by King James him self That is King James Charles Stuart.... Have mercy that the same family them selves were Catholics as well Save face for his own mother was murder via having her head chopped off all cause she was having affairs with men.. Could the very Bible we preach from today have scores of ill fated hate crime in it as well? Did the true records as there were meant to be from the get go have a book of Revelations in it or were they to the very self soul hating facts of what King James had to go through in his life of not having his own mother. SO is todays Face books and My space not the same or the same versions of writings or each and every one a place to bounce of as a sounding wall our own feelings of with in a the new wave of Dear Diary.... WE all have feelings and we all know those feelings can go one way or the other as if the very works of the devil and his lord ships ways working side by side. WE need to actually step back and see the picture in a whole for what it really is... is it good to face off and Behead those whom do not do as the Queen or is it more Christian to live and let live as long as thou don't Kill Steal Convert Blasphemy Commit Adultery hold graven images ....wait hold graven images why I do believe that the bible was a part of a graven image for its words were engraved with the words of his lord ship... As so much as I hate to admit I my self have Bibles in my home the reason why is because I live in America the land of the free and the brave ... and well as I live in the land of the free and the brave ...to but hear that yet our Military is not serving their country as they are not providing and instead fearing of the possible facts of what some others might think of us converting thy Neighbors.... what has happened to you boys and now girls is that you have fallen out the graces of the BRAVE just to try and make a conservatory piece in your own history of WAR> Get off the pay roll of the military for you need to know what has been going on in the sense of REAL TIME. The world need to live in peace and you are the ones causing the WARS.... Government need to know we the PEOPLE that wish to have peace would like the pay of our Government kept at home end this war now ....... For WE the PEOPLE do not need all these ill fated mishaps happening to our countries as a whole We seek Peace and they are using the BIBLE issue to gain their own worships of hate.

    • EveryONE has the right to serve and worship as they choose. That's what wrong with the world, trying to change what others think, feel, or speak...We must learn to tolerate all, even if we are not in agreement.

  10. If and when the Quran gets burned, does it burn white hot?? I'll bring my marsh mallows and graham crackers along with some chocolate...mmmm....yummy.....I can't think of a better way to make S'mores than to burn a Muslim Holy Book. Muhammad was born about 570 years after Christ(the one and only true Messiah) was born, therefore, Muhammad is not a true Messiah, or God's messenger.

  11. The burning of the Quran was not an act of disrespect or negligence. How is it that one makes a huge deal over something made by a human hands and can also be replaced by human hands? I know someone whose house got burnt down with few Bibles in it but they replaced them, you didn't see the church going into a rage over it.

  12. I can absolutely assure those that read this - the Bibles were not burned!!! The statement made by the Pentagon was made a year after all of us soldiers who were involved had left Afghanistan. The day this hit the news, back in May 2009, I had been back in the US for about 2 months. A "gag order" was immediately imposed on me from the base commander. I do think it is interesting that the only news organization to contact me for a comment at that time was Al Jazeera -- why not any of the American media? Those of us, with whom I have had opportunity to speak with, that were involved in providing Bibles have praised God that the Bibles were distributed and have praised God for the way the local Afghan people received them. I have been retired now for over 2 years, so feel I can actually speak the truth now.

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