By David Glenn Cox
There are no atheists in foxholes, it is said. In Afghanistan, in the midst of war, social and societal upheaval, the Nitwits for Jesus are hard at work. Perhaps if we all raise our hands to the sky and shout hallelujah at the Taliban they will throw down their arms and shout hallelujah back at us.
The irony of the words of the Prince of Peace being delivered by bayonet-wielding soldiers goes right over their heads. Former Afghan prime minister Ahmed Shah Ahmedzaihas called for an inquiry after Al Jazeera broadcast footage showing Christian US soldiers appearing to be preparing to try and convert Muslims in Afghanistan.
The US Army has responded by saying, “Most of this is taken out of context … this is irresponsible and inappropriate journalism.”
Yes, it is no wonder the irony goes over their head. Despite being against US military regulations, as well as being against Afghan law to proselytize any religion other than Islam to the public, certain members of the US military seem to be getting their marching orders from another source.
In the Al Jezeera footage, Sergeant Jon Watt, a future military chaplain, said during a Bible study class; “I also want to praise God because my church collected some money to get bibles for Afghanistan. They came and sent the money out.”
It was Jesus himself who said, “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet”
Translated, if they don’t want to hear it don’t force it on them; just keep moving.
But Jesus never had to deal with modern American evangelicals, just as modern evangelicals never have to deal with the real Jesus. These glassy-eyed automatons have every intention of shoving the word down the throats of the long-suffering Afghans, whether they like it or not.
“It’s a national security issue … our constitution says nothing can take place in Afghanistan against Islam,” said Sayed Aalam Uddin Asser, of the Islamic Front for Peace and Understanding in Kabul.
“Do we know what it means to proselytize?” a military chaplain asks the gathering.
A soldier replies, “It is General Order Number One.”
“You can’t proselytize, but you can give gifts,” the leader of the Bible study class offers. “I bought a carpet, and then I gave the guy a Bible after I conducted my business.”
He seems to have forgotten that while it is legal to peddle carpets in the marketplace, it is not legal to peddle your religion. But what is at work here is an evangelical synergy; a blending of God and patriotism mixed together in a noxious cloud of arrogant zeal.
I once made a sales call on an evangelical church / Christian school and in the lobby on an easel was a large picture of Jesus kneeling before the Liberty bell with his hand outstretched, touching its edge reverently. You see, to them Jesus worships America; it’s all one and the same.
American soldiers should, and I quote, “Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them into the kingdom. That’s what we do, that’s our business.” When merged with their role as soldiers it boils down to kill them or save them. It is an insight into a world of religious extremism, American-style religious extremism that knows no bounds.
God is country and country is God; if a regulation or law stands in the way of religion, it is wrong and can be ignored. Conversely, if as soldiers they are called upon to wage war in a third world country, they will do so with no questions asked because Jesus loves America. And perhaps they can convert the survivors to the words of the Prince of Peace. The words that they hear but do not understand,
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
They see themselves instead as persecuted for their righteousness, both as Christians and as Americans because if you question either, you are a heretic to both; God and country become the same.
This is why they see the secular world as on a crusade to destroy America and Christianity. What most of us see as religious freedom they see as consorting with the devil. It is always all right to attack the devil or an abortion doctor or the funeral of an Aids victim. We the secular are persecuting them just by questioning them. They are dangerous by their obedience. I once asked an evangelical if atheists should be allowed to vote and he answered, “They can vote but they should not be allowed to hold office.” I asked why and he answered, “Because this is a Christian nation and to hold office you must be a Christian.”
Partly for clarification and partly just being a smart-ass I asked, “What about Jews, Hindus, Buddhists or Moslems?” His answer was certain, “No, of course not.”
Lieutenant-Colonel Gary Hensley, the chief of the US military chaplains in Afghanistan, tells soldiers that, as followers of Jesus Christ, they all have a responsibility “to be witnesses for him.”
“The special forces guys – they hunt men basically. We do the same things as Christians; we hunt people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down.”
But the Lt. Colonel is wrong, dead wrong. His obligation and his responsibility is to follow the orders of his commanders and to minister to his flock. There is no exception for insubordination in the name God. He should be a witness as to how fast officers can be removed from the military for failure to follow orders.
“Render unto Caesar those things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”
(photo by fallacy)
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.