To Be a Christian in Today’s Military
“I know that I will be called upon to perform tasks in isolation, far from familiar faces and voices. With the help and guidance of my faith, I will conquer my fears and succeed.” From the U.S. Army Special Forces Creed, De oppresso liber U.S. Army Special Forces Motto, subvenite oppresso Isaiah 1:17
Bible-believing Christians in America have had things easy compared to many places where there has been real persecution against those who stand firm in their beliefs in Christ; however suppression and denunciation against Christian beliefs have become more and more commonplace in our society under the guise of “equality and tolerance”. Sadly, it is becoming all too familiar in our Military as well.
The U.S. Army is ordering troops to remove Bible inscriptions that a company had etched on the weapon scopes they produced and sold to the U.S. Army. Scopes manufactured by Trijicon had Bible verses referenced at the end of their serial numbers without the Army’s approval so soldiers at Fort Wainwright in Alaska were instructed to have the scriptures removed from their weapon’s scopes. John 8:12 and 2nd Corinthians 4:6 appear as “JN8:12” and “2COR4:6.” They were told that the biblical verse (JN8:12) must be removed utilizing a Dremel type tool and then painted black.
One of the soldiers who is a Christian and received the order to remove the verses said, “It doesn’t help the Army do its mission to take off a biblical reference.”
This reminds me of a similar case brought up in 2010 when Army and Marine Corps weapons were also found to have Bible inscriptions on them. Trijicon, the same manufacturing company, has a multimillion dollar, multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the Marine Corps, and additional contracts to provide sights to the U.S. Army. The company has said the practice of including Bible references began under its founder, Glyn Bindon, a devout Christian from South Africa who was killed in a 2003 plane crash. Their Mission statement says, “We believe that America is great when its people are good. This goodness has been based on biblical standards throughout our history and we will strive to follow those morals.”
Maj. John Redfield, spokesperson for CentCom, brought up a good point about whether it was proper or not to have Bible verses inscribed.
“[It] Is between the statement that’s on the back of our dollar bills, which is ‘In God We Trust,’ and we haven’t moved away from that”, Maj. Redfield said. “Unless the equipment that’s being used that has these inscriptions proved to be less than effective for soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and military folks using it, I wouldn’t see why we would stop using that.”
My Rifle – The Creed of a United States Marine is still being taught to Marines undergoing Basic Training at the Recruit Depots at San Diego and Parris Island. It was first published in the San Diego Marine Corps Chevron March 14, 1942. Marines take this 7-part creed seriously, including number 6, which states: “Before God, I swear this creed. My rifle and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.”
To a Marine, honor is loyalty and dedication to God, Country, Corps and Family. Notice that God comes first.
In 2009 Military personnel threw away, and burned confiscated Bibles because they were concerned that they would be used to try to convert Afghans. The Bibles, which had been sent by a church in the United States, were confiscated at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Why were the Bibles burned? According to Lt. Col. Mark Wright, “The decision was made that it was a ‘force protection’ measure to throw them away, because, if they did get out, it could be perceived by Afghans that the U.S. government or the U.S. military was trying to convert Muslims.” When asked why they were burned, Lt. Col. Wright responded, “Troops at posts in war zones are required to burn their trash.”
The Holy Bible, it seems, is “trash” according to some in our Military. Perhaps some of you don’t remember that story because the media was, as usual, silent. However, the world heard about it when Korans were burned in Afghanistan. They were burned because detainees at Parwan Detention Facility were writing on the documents to exchange extremist messages. According to Islam, a Koran can only be buried or burned if they are corrupted. Regardless, the Army, by showing respect for Islamic rules, sparked riots and anti-American, anti-Military demonstrations, which resulted in the deaths of multiple civilians and at least 2 U.S. servicemen.
Immediately after the incident, Obama apologized to Afghan President Karzai. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta promised to review the results of the coalition’s investigation to ensure that all steps were taken to prevent it from happening again. U.S. Gen. John Allen, the top commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan at the time, apologized to the Afghan people and said the books were inadvertently given to troops for burning. He then issued a new directive ordering all coalition forces in Afghanistan to complete training in the proper handling of religious materials including the identification of religious materials, their significance, correct handling and storage.
So where we seem to be is that burning Bibles is okay, yet we apologize for burning Korans. The U.S. military orders soldiers to remove a cross and a steeple from atop a chapel, and to board up cross-shaped windows at a remote American FBO in Afghanistan. Bible inscriptions are being removed from weapons and Christians are being labeled as extremists. And now the Southern Baptist Convention website has been blocked from some military bases because it contains so-called “hostile content”…Unfortunately the opposite is true: Those in our Military’s upper echelon are creating a hostile environment for Bible believing Christians.
G.K. Chesterton once said, “There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.” I personally deal with day-to-day events by reading my Bible and gathering with other believers for encouragement, prayer, worship and spiritual feeding. It makes me sad that Christians in our military are in danger of losing their same rights, when they– more than anyone–should be able to speak freely of their faith.
It is criminal that those who sacrifice so much to defend our rights have to give up so many of their own rights during critical times where their faith is what gives them the courage, commitment and strength to do what they need to do to spiritually survive the hellish environment of war.
Perhaps our Military leaders should reflect on the Nation’s first real Commander of the Continental Army, George Washington, who said, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great Pillars.”
Anyone who might wonder which religion Washington was talking about, he never hid his Christian faith. “It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.”