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May 29, 2008

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Sorry. It's hardly ever just "a few bad apples." These coins didn't come from nowhere, and they weren't a secret.

At a minimum, these guys' training was woefully inadequate. At worst their superiors knew very well what they were doing.

Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, said in a statement e-mailed to McClatchy. "Local commanders are investigating since the military prohibits proselytizing any religion, faith or practices."

This strikes me as a CYA approach, since I doubt the local commanders were totally unaware of the activity.

For those of us who don't like to click the links, this one tells of an Iraqi college student who examined the coin he was given: ""Where will you spend eternity?" it asked.

He flipped it over, and on the other side it read, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16.""

I like how the coin reinforces the notion that Americans and their religion are all about money and greed and are tightly bound with the government.

Hey turby, pass along the collection box please...

Yeah Turbulence, the only way the symbolism could have been worse is if there was a drop of oil on the front of the coin and a map of future US bases in Iraq on the back.

Really stupid and unnecessary way to aggravate local grievances, but I'm doubting this will be something the US military cracks down hard on. Too high a % of their support comes from highly religious areas at this point.

Not only counter productive in a COIN sense, but just plain silly.

Do they really think they are going to convert a lot of Iraqis to Christianity?

I say, Anne Coulter for Ambassador to Iraq!

At least it would get her out of America.

I say, Anne Coulter for Ambassador to Iraq!

How about Ambassador to Fallujah!

"I say, Anne Coulter for Ambassador to Iraq!"

Probably you mean "Ann Coulter."

"Do they really think they are going to convert a lot of Iraqis to Christianity?"

Which "they"? Do you have reason to believe this is more than low level soldiers or low level officers being idiots? Or are you aware of some organization to this we should be aware of?

If it's individuals you're referring to, it's hardly surprising when evangelicals feel the need to evangelize.

Stupid, but not surprising. It should be utterly suppressed by superior ranks, of course.

Regarding a possible organization behind this,I suggest checking out the Officers Christian Fellowship website ocf.gospelcom.net

or a Mother Jones article on an officer opposing this. http://www.motherjones.com/news/update/2007/11/anti-crusader-mikey-weinstein.html

Wow. -- I mean, it's not surprising, given how many people we have over there and the small odds that not a single one would be an idiot. But still.

This isn't a bizarre aberration, or the act of "idiots".

It's highly implausible that superior officers weren't aware of this.

Early in the occupation, Baptist missionaries were welcomed into Iraq by the U.S. authorities and given military protection, until it became clear that this was going to create more trouble for the occupation than it was worth. Just recently there were several stories in the news about Christian missionary groups re-grouping to go back in; spokespeople made it sound very much as if they'd been given encouragement from within the U.S. government.

There has been an organized and at least partly successful effort by fundamentalist Protestants to take control of the military chaplains' organization.

The all-volunteer force has led to fundamentalist and evangelical Protestants making up a much higher percentage of the services than their proportion of the population.

There are networks of Protestant officers within the services who encourage evangelizing among the troops, and who view the prohibition on evangelizing among the occupied Iraqis as something to be skirted rather than enforced.

Non-Protestant, non-Christian, and nonbelieving soldiers and marines are in the best position to describe what the atmosphere is like wrt religious issues in their units. I doubt very seriously that this incident is the only one of its kind in Iraq.

Has General Boykin come out of retirement?

And no, Gary and all, I am not going to provide links or cites for anything in that comment.

Therefore anyone who chooses not to accept these assertions is free not to.

Anyone inclined to accept them but wanting more specifics should be able to find supporting links. I can't take the time right now.

I'm going to add Nell's comment at 5:48pm to my growing list of reasons why the U.S. should not have a standing army.

The second link in mikesdak's post above was truncated (at least to my browser, Firefox 1.5.0.4). Here's its ending:

anti-crusader-mikey-weinstein.html

Thanks, mikesdak for a read that is both entertaining (Mikey Weinstein shares an appearance and persona with Veronica Mars's dad) and highly pertinent: the article says last summer Weinstein "uncovered plans by the Pentagon to ship "freedom packages" to soldiers in Iraq that were to contain ... proselytizing material in English and Arabic."

Mikey Weinstein also has a website:

www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/about.html

Apparently it was one guy and he has been reassigned.

I'm not sure about the description of one soldier's actions being "all too typical." Was that a reference to typical situations that arise in occupations or typical actions of U.S. soldiers?

I especially took note of the closing quote:

"Now we have this missionary way by these coins," he said. "We feel the Muslims are weak and we hope that we will reach a point when we are strong to let them know what is wrong and what is right. "

Why do I have the funny feeling that "letting them know" means blowing something up?

Nell:

Not asking for cites, but what makes you think superiors knew about what was going on and did nothing? I ask because without more info I personally wouldn't assume the brass would be so stupid. But you seem to have more information and I'm interested.

bc,

If I may answer, since I too expressed doubt that it was just one or two "bad apples:"

Obviously I don't know for sure who knew what. I do know that our military has had problems with over-zealous religious types (see Boykin). I also know that it's hard to keep a secret, even assuming the guy in question wanted to keep things secret. So, yes, it might be one guy operating on his own without his immediate superior knowing anything about it, but that's not the way to bet.

Yet more indignities visited upon a city bitterly opposed to US occupation, and now turned into virtually a controlled prison. Blast walls, checkpoints, biometric IDing, mass arrests and torture (see this art. from WaPo: "Peace Through Brute Strength"...
http://tinyurl.com/2jqvzf)
define life for the put-upon citizenry, and now, as a captive audience, they have to endure Christianity shoved at them? Well, in the greater scheme of things, better a two-headed coin pressed into one's hand than a sniper's bullet in the back from their overlords.

The linked article describes these coins as silver. Real silver? How many have been handed out? This could be very expensive missionary work. The work of one marine at one checkpoint, I think not.

"Apparently it was one guy and he has been reassigned."

You want your link to go here.

"Why do I have the funny feeling that 'letting them know' means blowing something up?"

Fortunately, the U.S. would never make its feelings known on something by blowing anything up.

And anyone who thought it looked rather differently to them, and thought that the U.S. actually did engage in a lot of blowing up of things, clearly simply doesn't understand the beneficent intent of the U.S. government and its people.

"The linked article describes these coins as silver. Real silver?"

Clearly neither you nor I know the answer to that, and it does seem rather unlikely.

"The work of one marine at one checkpoint, I think not."

Even if they're not real silver, it's clearly a fair amount of effort to have custom coins minted with an inscription in Arabic.

It's clear he got them *somewhere*. Probably some Hagee-style person's organization.

You aren’t supposed to explain other religions to Muslims. They are allowed to cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, or crucify you, if you present other religions to members of the religion of peace.

Bad, bad Christians. Handing out coins.

I’ve reflected upon my intention of pretending to be a Democrat if I were ever single again. Upon reflection I’d instead pretend to be a Muslim Democrat.

That way I’d be able to take four Type 3s as wives, direct them to shut up if they pissed me off, and they’d probably be convinced that they liked it.

That would be cool.

"The linked article describes these coins as silver. Real silver?"

Melted down purity rings, since you ask.

"You aren’t supposed to explain other religions to Muslims. They are allowed to cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, or crucify you, if you present other religions to members of the religion of peace."

This explains the rash of hundreds of thousands of cut-off hands and feet, and crucifixions, currently being found across America, caused by the several million Muslims compelled to do this.

Yes, Bill's reading of the Koran always trumps actual facts. Since Bill's reading must be what's important, those cut-off limbs must be out there by the millions!

The alternative, that Bill's reading is completely unconnected from reality, and he doesn't notice, couldn't possibly be right.

Meanwhile, there's nothing evangelical Christians like more than to have Muslims preach to them: why, the tolerance and kindness commonly shown by such Christians to members of other faiths who evangelize is downright inspiring!

Gary:

5:33-5:33-5:33-5:33-5:33-5:33-5:33-5:33-5:33-5:33-5:33-5:33-5:33-5:33-5:33

Here we are.

So, Bill, where are all the cut off hands and feet?

Or is it your contention that American Muslims are protected from, and never see, evangelicals and people of other religions, in America?

Is this a real threat, or isn't it? If it's real, please point to the reality.

Go right ahead. I'll just wait right here.

I'm sure BYOBill would take a strong stand in favor of allowing armed Muslims to proselytize in American public places.

Okay now I'm irritated and going to play with the troll.

The Christian Bible isn't without its atrocious acts, almost as if the past was a more barbaric time.

"Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." (I Samuel 15:2-3)

"And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God..." (Deuteronomy 13: 5)

"If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;" (Deuteronomy 13: 6)

"Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people." (Deuteronomy 13:8-9)

"Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword." (Deuteronomy 13:15)

Finally,

"The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance. He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked." (Psalms 58:10)

A commenter at Balloon Juice made a point I'd not quite articulated, but agree with: the people most likely to suffer physical harm because of this sort of thing are other American soldiers. For the people of Iraq it's one more in " a long train of abuses and usurpation", if I may coin a phrase, and some of those abused and usurped will strike back. And Jesus never said anything like "blessed are you when you set up your neighbor as a target".

At the risk of piling on with Gary regarding BOB's careful and nuanced understanding of al-Qur'an...

A portion of Asad's footnote to his translation of the passage in question:
"In short, the attempt of the commentators to interpret the above verse as a 'legal injunction' must be categorically rejected, however great the names of the persons responsible for it. On the other hand, a really convincing interpretation suggests itself to us at once as soon as we read the verse -as it ought to be read -in the present tense: for, read in this way, the verse reveals itself immediately as a statement of fact - a declaration of the inescapability of the retribution which 'those who make war on God' bring upon themselves. Their hostility to ethical imperatives causes them to lose sight of all moral values; and their consequent mutual discord and 'perverseness' gives rise to unending strife among themselves for the sake of worldly gain and power: they kill one another in great numbers, and torture and mutilate one another in great numbers, with the result that whole communities are wiped out or, as the Qur'an puts it, 'banished from [the face of] the earth'. It is this interpretation alone that takes full account of all the expressions occurring in this verse-the reference to 'great numbers' in connection with deeds of extreme violence, the 'banishment from the earth', and, lastly, the fact that these horrors are expressed in the terms used by Pharaoh, the 'enemy of God'."

So let's see: the passage itself cannot be taken as unambiguously calling for proselytizers to be killed, crucified, deprived of right hand and left foot, or banished from the face of the earth. Looking at this and another commentary (the other wanting to take it as legal prescription), it doesn't even appear to address proselytizers. But that's all academic; even if the Qur'an isn't calling for their death or maiming, it's still a widespread practice inevitably carried out by all Muslims everywhere, right? Just like Gary said?

BOB, I still wanna know what translation you're using. The only thing that you've made clear about it is just how awful it must be.

I'm not sure about the description of one soldier's actions being "all too typical." Was that a reference to typical situations that arise in occupations or typical actions of U.S. soldiers?

The former. I mean to say that "things" will go wrong, and that is typical. Indeed inevitable. The actual "thing" going wrong is the variable, though ultimately less important to the big picture.

Let me know if that answers your question.

BOB wrote: "You aren’t supposed to explain other religions to Muslims."

You know, I bet that if an armed US Marine guarding a US embassy in Israel handed these out to every visitor, it'd go down badly there too.

That would be Israel, where Orthodox Jewish hard-liners recently burned a pile of New Testaments that were distributed by Christian missionaries.

@bc: Far from a complete set of links, but this post is a roundup of some of the ways in which evangelizing Protestant fundamentalism has risen to new levels of prevalence and power in the U.S. military.

Note especially the part about pre-assault-on-Fallujah conversions.

Hey, Nell?

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