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Topic: Bible ban

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Subject: Bible ban
Date Posted: 5/17/2009 9:45 PM ET
Member Since: 7/6/2005
Posts: 404
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Date Posted: 5/17/2009 11:16 PM ET
Member Since: 6/8/2007
Posts: 6,358
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I thought our soldiers weren't allowed to distribute Bibles anyway?  I know that when sending a package to troops, it states that you can send a bible for that soldier, but not a box of Bibles to distribute.  hhhmmm....



Last Edited on: 5/17/09 11:16 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/18/2009 1:34 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
Posts: 5,091
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Yes, troops on active duty are not supposed to distribute Bibles, or promote Islam, or Buddhism or any other religion.  It's a violation of military rules, specifically Central Command General Order 1B.  This order prohibits, among other things, proselytizing of any religion, faith or practice.  It's paragraph 2(k) and it's on page 4 of the rules.

If the link below doesn't work, google "Central Command General Order 1B" and the first link should be a pdf file you can download if you want to read the whole thing.

http://www.tac.usace.army.mil/deploymentcenter/tac_docs/GO-1B%20Policy.pdf

 



Last Edited on: 5/18/09 1:34 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/21/2009 1:23 AM ET
Member Since: 12/25/2008
Posts: 79
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"Central Command General Order 1B" is a directive to troops under CENTCOM only (CENTCOM includes most of the deployed troops in the Middle East, but not those in Europe, Asia or the US, for example), and does not explicitly prohibit soldiers giving away bibles, especially if they are their own.  Giving someone a religious book doesn't *necessarily* amount to proselytizing.  Deployed troops (and chaplains) have carried and distributed bibles among themselves and the local populations for a long time without objection from their chain of command, until this confiscation happened.  In my opinion, this represents a change in tone because of the religious sensitivities in the Middle East, rather than an enforcement of current rules regarding distributing or sharing religious literature.  I don't doubt that the Pentagon is legitimately concerned about the potential backlash in Muslim countries of American troops distributing bibles to the population, but it's not correct to say that these troops and chaplains were violating any pre-existing order by doing so.

Date Posted: 5/21/2009 2:43 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
Posts: 5,091
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Forgive me, I failed to include the term "in Afghanistan" in my post.  I thought it was implied because we were talking about Bibles that were sent to Afghanistan for the purpose of distribution to the Afghan population, but I should have been more explicit.

I rather think that the argument that giving away Bibles is not proselytizing would carry very little weight with most officers.  Certainly if I was an officer and the soldier in question gave that an excuse, I would not be buying it.  :)

The rule was passed in 2006, so yes I think this is a violation of a previously existing order.

Date Posted: 5/21/2009 10:58 PM ET
Member Since: 12/25/2008
Posts: 79
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As an officer, it seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable argument.  Furthermore, I think most reasonable officers believe that it was not the intent of CENTCOM's order to forbid soldiers from freely expressing their faith and sharing their bibles.  What convinces me even more is the opinions of the many Air Force chaplains that I have known that share the same opinion.

Did you know that chaplains regularly distribute bibles to troops in deployment processing lines, for instance?  It's what we in the military call SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) that chaplains provide religious literature to anyone who seeks it.  This is well outside the bounds of proselytizing according to the military chapel.

Date Posted: 5/23/2009 2:38 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
Posts: 5,091
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As an officer, it seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable argument.

As a former officer, I disagree.  Particularly given that this is a Muslim country with Muslim sensibilities.  Given that the Bibles were not printed in English, but in local dialects, it is clear that the only reason they were sent was in an effort to spread the Christian religion, which is specifically against the regulations.

What soldiers do amongst themselves is irrelevant, since these bibles were clearly not for the purpose of sharing their religion with fellow soldiers.

Date Posted: 5/23/2009 10:42 AM ET
Member Since: 12/25/2008
Posts: 79
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I'm not disagreeing with you when you say that handing out pashto bibles was a bad idea and the Pentagon had to put a stop to it--like I said, the chain of command was trying to make sure that religious sensitivities didn't compromise military objectives.  But it's not true that these soldiers were violating an existing order, especially if the only thing they can point to is the CENTCOM order, which does not prohibit distributing bibles.



Last Edited on: 5/23/09 10:45 AM ET - Total times edited: 1