A US Marine in Iraq has been removed from duty amid complaints that he was handing out coins with Bible verses at an American checkpoint, the military said Thursday.
A military spokesman said Iraqis in Falluja have complained that the Marine was giving the coins, printed in Arabic, to people at an entry control point in Falluja — they claimed that US troops were acting as Christian missionaries. US military regulations prohibit religious proselytizing.
Col. James L. Welsh, chief of staff of Multi-National Force, West said, "this has our full attention. We deeply value our relationship with the local citizens and share their concerns over this serious incident."
One of the coins is stamped with the words "Where will you spend eternity?" The other side of the coin reportedly contains a verse from John 3:16 that reads, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life."
A Coalition spokesman said, "regulations prohibit members of the coalition force from proselytizing any religion, faith, or practices. Our troops are trained on those guidelines before they deploy." A military statement said "appropriate action" will be taken if the reports are true. What action would be appropriate?
Another article tells the story of how tough it is to be a military chaplain in wartime — it's clear that religion is important to soldiers serving. Was handing out the coin, proselytizing? Was being removed from duty, fair?