Religion in Society

U.S. Army Illegally Trying to Convert Afghans to Christianity

| by MPAC

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Muslim Public Affairs Council today called on Defense Secretary Robert Gates to open an investigation of U.S. military chaplains encouraging soldiers to convert civilians in Afghanistan to Christianity, as well as oversight to ensure military guidelines are followed by U.S. service members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

General Order Number 1 of the U.S. military's Central Command forbids active duty troops, including all those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, from trying to convert people to their religion.

A recent video posted on Al-Jazeera English shows U.S. soldiers being encouraged to convert predominantly Muslim population to Christianity. In one recorded sermon, Lieutenant-Colonel Gary Hensley, the chief of the U.S. military chaplains in Afghanistan, is seen telling soldiers that as followers of Jesus Christ, they all have a responsibility "to be witnesses for him."

He continues, "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. "

"Our soldiers task is to protect their country and to establish safety in Aghanistan, not converting Afghans to Christianity," said Salam Al-Marayati, MPAC Executive Director. "This type of open violation military guidelines will only fuel the Taliban insurgency and their recruitment efforts."

According to Al-Jazeera, the videos were shot last year by Brian Hughes, a documentary maker and former member of the U.S. military who spent several days in Bagram. The videos also show copies of the Bible in Afghanistan's local languages (Darsi and Pashto) intended for distribution to local Afghans.