U.S. military says Afghan Bibles have been destroyed

By May 8, 2009

Afghanistan (MNN) — Bibles in Afghan languages sent to a U.S. soldier at a base in Afghanistan were confiscated and destroyed to ensure that troops did not breach regulations which forbid proselytizing. That's the word from spokeswoman Major Jennifer Willis at Bagram air base near Kabul.

President of Open Doors USA Carl Moeller says, "A U.S. soldier, who had been mailed several copies of the Bible in the local Afghan language there stationed in Afghanistan, had the Bibles destroyed by the military because of their possible use to evangelize the local Afghan people."

Open Doors is an advocate of persecuted Christians around the world. Moeller says, "It's a little bit shocking about the U.S. government destroying Bibles simply because of the love these [soldiers] had for the Afghan people."

U.S. Central Command's General Order Number 1 forbids troops on active duty — including all those based in Iraq and Afghanistan — from trying to convert people to another religion.

Why did the U.S. government have to destroy these Bibles? That's the question Moeller is asking. "Had this been six or seven copies of the Koran that were destroyed, there would be no end to the amount of protest you would hear."

Military officials have said the Bibles were sent through private mail to an evangelical Christian soldier by his church back home. The soldier brought them to the bible study class where they were filmed.

Trying to convert Muslims to another faith is a crime in Afghanistan. An Afghan man who converted to Christianity was sentenced to death for apostasy in 2006 but was allowed to leave the country after an international uproar.

Moeller says the Bibles didn't need to be destroyed. "There's certainly many organizations that could put them to good use. Any time you see a Bible destroyed, it really should shake the core of every Christian to realize that this is the kind of desecration that can happen to God's Word."

While U.S. military policy forbids evangelism and proselytism, Moeller says, "I don't think it had to go to the degree that they took it. I think it sets a very bad picture of the U.S. military's perspective on Christianity, and frankly that troubles me."

This is just one reason why Open Doors is involved in Afghanistan. "We're involved in making sure that the fledgling Afghan church has enough Bibles for evangelism, and we're continuing to provide and supply those Bibles through other means."

If you'd like to help Open Doors supply Bibles to the region, click here.

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