By The Way, We Never Learn

« May 2009 »

Memo to Christian Soldiers: WHY CAN'T YOU STOP?

It's funny - just last week I was going through the top-linked YAD articles of the past year, and one of them was something I'd completely forgotten about since I wrote it - the Iraq soldiers who were passing out fake gold Jesus coins at checkpoints to try and spread the "good word" to the heathen Muslims whose country they've been shooting up for going on seven years now.

And the more I think about it, the more I realize that this religion drug must be incredibly intense for the hard-core users. Because I can't think of a single act less in an American soldier's basic self-interest than fucking WITNESSING. First, it's against military regulations, so if you get caught at it, you could get court-martialed, booted out of the service, and have to hope that Chik-Fil-A is hiring in a recession. Second, if you're in the middle of a war zone, especially an insurgency, why would you piss off the civilians? Today's Jesus coin is tomorrow's shrapnel. But they do it anyway.

And sure enough, they're still doing it. This time in Afghanistan. A big-ass stack of bibles, translated into Pashtun, and intended to be handed out to locals. Somehow, an al-Jazeera reporter got footage of the soldiers and the bibles at a "bible study" a year ago, and it turns out the military confiscated and destroyed them, but what the fuck? How is this ever a good idea? Check out the awesome logic, by the way. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"You cannot proselytize, but you can give gifts. I also want to praise God because my church collected some money to get Bibles for Afghanistan. They came and sent the money out." That was one of the unidentified soldiers, who apparently thinks he's found a loophole where, if your "gift" is your religion's holy book translated into the heathen's language, it doesn't count as proselytizing. Also, I'm not sure, but he appears to be giving a shout-out to his home church on al-Jazeera, which I guarantee not a single one of the parishioners there watches. But anyhow.

Al-Jazeera also had some other fun, related footage - of a military preacher delivering a sermon. This is an especially important ACTUAL QUOTE TIME, and I want you to read it carefully, because when I get to the military's official response to the quote, you'll want this fresh in your mind. Ready? I know you think you're ready, but I've read this quote and you haven't, and I'm betting you're not actually ready. Up-armor your mental Humvee, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

"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. Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them into the Kingdom. That's what we do, that's our business."

If you're going to count the bad turns of phrase in that paragraph, you're going to have to take off your shoes. We hunt people for Jesus? We get them into the Kingdom? That is a fucking nightmare scenario right there, and this is just the guy they caught on tape! How many more are out there doing this? But the horror is not yet complete, because as promised, here is the official statement on that statement, and all the cognitive dissonance that comes with it.

"A defense official tells the Huffington Post that the preacher did not mean that soldiers should hunt for Afghani souls, but was speaking in general terms."

Really? General terms? So he wasn't saying that the soldiers were there specifically to convert the Afghans - just that the military's role is to convert the population of whatever country they happen to be occupying, and in this case, coincidentally, it happened to be Afghanistan? Because I don't know if this defense official realizes this, but if that military preacher was speaking generally, it's EVEN WORSE.

Not that the fucking whackjobs realize it, of course. Wingnut web-news outlet OneNewsNow, whose mailing list I have also inexplicably ended up on, framed the story thusly: "U.S. Military Destroys Soldiers' Bibles". That's sure to inflame the faithful. Which it did. The comments thread there was 90% apocalyptic doomsaying and criticizing the military (which I thought counted as hating the troops, but I guess not), but the most delusional of the bunch has to be this:

"I think it is terrible that the U.S. military would do this. I don't think it is pushing a religion on someone. If you have a bible study and invite people to come, they have a choice as to whether they want to attend or not. It would be a different story if they dragged people in and forced them to listen."

Yeah. That's how it was going down. The soldiers merely had a stack of Pashtun bibles handy on the off chance a curious Afghani, despite his country's legal prohibitions against converting to Christianity, decided to ask all the nice men with very large guns if they would kindly let him read one. How stupid do you have to be to fall for that warped vision of geopolitical reality? Fuck, how stupid do you have to be to think this gives you plausible deniability, even?

Look. I don't really know at this point why all you soldiers are over there, but I know why you're not there. You're not there to spread Jesus to the natives. And you know why I know that? Because it's not the eighteenth fucking century, and some of us have actually learned from history and figured out that missionaries with guns fuck everything up for the rest of us. So cut it out, because while you may not care if you die bringing the word of your savior to the Afghan people, a few of the guys next to you damn well care if they get shot because you couldn't keep your god in your pants.