WASHINGTON (ABP) — The U.S. military says it has destroyed Pashto- and Dari-language Bibles confiscated from soldiers in Afghanistan to ensure troops did not break regulations against proselytizing.
According to Reuters, officials denied that evangelical Christian soldiers seen in a video by Al Jazeera tried to convert Afghans to Christianity. The video showed soldiers talking about giving away Bibles in the two official Afghan languages and a chaplain admonishing a congregation to "hunt people for Jesus."
Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, called the video about military proselytizing by military personnel in a Muslim land "extremely troubling."
"The mission of U.S. Military forces does not include armed evangelism for one particular religion," Gaddy said. "The U.S. military is present in Afghanistan to fight terrorism, not to spread religious doctrine."
Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation wrote in an online column warning that unless steps are taken to prevent evangelical proselytizing in the armed forces, "America is dangerously tiptoeing closer to a modern day reincarnation of the Crusade's Templar Knights."
"Every soldier has the right to pray or not in the manner they see fit," Weinstein said. "However, it is fundamentally wrong under any circumstance for that same soldier to directly or indirectly force his or her own religious traditions and beliefs on others under his or her command."
Bob Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.