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Is the U.S. military proselytizing in Afghanistan?

The U.S. military today denied the allegation made in this Al Jazeera piece that evangelical chaplains are urging U.S. toops in Afghanistan to protelytize for Christianity: The reporting here does seem a little dodgy. The piece implies that this line from a U.S chaplain’s sermon is a violation of U.S. policy: "The special forces guys ...

The U.S. military today denied the allegation made in this Al Jazeera piece that evangelical chaplains are urging U.S. toops in Afghanistan to protelytize for Christianity:

The reporting here does seem a little dodgy. The piece implies that this line from a U.S chaplain’s sermon is a violation of U.S. policy:

"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 it’s not at all clear that this refers to converting Afghans and this seems like a line that one could hear in any evangelical sermon in the United States. None of the officers "caught on camera" in the segment ever actually instruct troops to proselytize, in fact the only discussion of the practice is about how it’s against military rules. 

As for the bibles in Dari and Pashto, the conversations in the video actually seem to better support the military’s explanation that a soldier had "showed them to the group and the chaplain explained that he cannot distribute them."

Afghanistan’s former prime minister has called for an investigation after seeing the segment. This is a serious issue and one that has gotten the military into trouble before. But without more evidence, this particular case seems like a manufactured controversy.

The U.S. military today denied the allegation made in this Al Jazeera piece that evangelical chaplains are urging U.S. toops in Afghanistan to protelytize for Christianity:

The reporting here does seem a little dodgy. The piece implies that this line from a U.S chaplain’s sermon is a violation of U.S. policy:

"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 it’s not at all clear that this refers to converting Afghans and this seems like a line that one could hear in any evangelical sermon in the United States. None of the officers "caught on camera" in the segment ever actually instruct troops to proselytize, in fact the only discussion of the practice is about how it’s against military rules. 

As for the bibles in Dari and Pashto, the conversations in the video actually seem to better support the military’s explanation that a soldier had "showed them to the group and the chaplain explained that he cannot distribute them."

Afghanistan’s former prime minister has called for an investigation after seeing the segment. This is a serious issue and one that has gotten the military into trouble before. But without more evidence, this particular case seems like a manufactured controversy.

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy  Twitter: @joshuakeating

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