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Marine Removed From Duty For Handing Out Bible Coins. Fair?

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?

Join The Conversation
stephley stephley 9 years
If a Muslim was on the street here in the U.S. and offering people the coins as they walked past, I would not be offended. But we're talking about a U.S. Marine in a warzone giving them to people who have to go through a check point. Iraq "is supposed to be making its self into a 'free country, with our 'help'" based on our decision that they needed to change and needed our help to do it. Two very different situations.
geezy geezy 9 years
No, he should not be removed for pasing out a coin. Muslims try to convert people by beheading them if they refuse to convert. Handing out a coing with a Bible verse on it that says: "God so loved the world..." is not offensive, stoning women to death for wearing make up is. Iraq is supposed to be making its self into a 'free' country, with our 'help'-- with that comes the responsibility to act like civilized human beings and be tolerant of other folks with different faiths, even when the display their faith. If a Muslim handed coins out to a group of Christians with a verse from the Quran on it, would you 'offended' folks feel the same 'offense' for the Christians? Probably not. Moral relativism will be the down fall of civilization.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
This is a bad situation. I can understand giving them to the "unchurched" troops, but to give them to muslims is a sign of severe disrespect. Personally, I think it's hilarious. It reminds me of the Jehova's Witnesses who visit me (regularly) and try to convert me to their denomination. I tell them every time "My wife is a pastor at such an such church of the sleeping Lutheran." They always act suprised. What idiots.
janneth janneth 9 years
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
lol Lyv. Yeah, I can sympathize, but if he wanted to be a missionary, this was not the time and place. Honestly, it almost seems dangerous to do that in an area where tensions are running high. It could give the impression that all of the troops believe there is something wrong with the Muslim faith in Iraq, and that is ony going to make things worse. A chaplain is supposed to help with the faith of the troops, if they think they are in need of help anyway. Hopefully he respects the troops also if they are, ya know of diverse faiths or no faith.
Lyv Lyv 9 years
Fair. You can't just impose your imaginary friend over other people's imaginary friends, it's not right.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
God has no place in Iraq!
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
What a tool. Way to respect the local population. I do have to say that I'm curious what the details were. If he was giving these to specific Iraqis with whom he had developed any sort of relationship vs. handing them to any and all people who came through the checkpoint...that would make a difference in the severity of the screwup, IMO. As for where did he get them...? The first place I'd look would be his church back home. If the implication of the commenters is that the military made them up and this chaplain is just being scapegoated, that's absolutely ludicrous. The military goes out of its way to not push Christianity. Of the last three chaplains my husband has had, only one of them was Christian. One was Jewish and one was Muslim.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
Let's see.... There is a rule against it. He broke it. I don't see any gray here.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
They were right to remove him. He does not work for the State department nor is one of his duties propaganda. He should leave that to the politicians and keep his mind and his actions on his explicit orders.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 9 years
Hm... if it was the chaplin handing out these coins, he should've known better in the first place. Navy chaplians receive training to able to offer support and services from many of the world's religions and are specifically told not to force a particular faith on the troops, not to mention the people of an occupied land. I find what he did to be extremely offensive, he SHOULD be removed from duty and he SHOULD be NJP'd.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I have a ton of Chuck E Cheese Tokens, I should send those over and see what the iraqis think about them.
em1282 em1282 9 years
Yeesh. Bad idea...definitely not a smart thing to do. As a soldier I'm surprised he didn't think about the repercussions of these actions towards his fellow soldiers.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
"Where did he get the coins printed in Arabic from?" Great question!
snowysakurasky snowysakurasky 9 years
Not only is it 'against the rules' and makes Americans look almost like colonialists, it is likely offensive to the Iraqis who obviously have their own religion, and thus puts the other soldiers in danger. As Pvellozzi said, I have to wonder if this was his sly way of getting out safely without being punished too badly or getting a bad record (i bet some future employers would not mind this in his past at all)--very clever and can;t say i wouldnt want to get out either
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
If he was doing this then yes he should be removed. He broke the rules.
RosaDilia RosaDilia 9 years
Where did he get the coins printed in Arabic from?
pvellozzi82 pvellozzi82 9 years
maybe he did it with the intentions of being removed from duty. I know if i could do something that would send me home I would :o)
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
not good.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
If he was handing them to other soldiers, I think it would be different. But handing them to Iraqis does seem out of line, IMO. We really need to try not to give the impression that we are on a crusade.
nicachica nicachica 9 years
Yeah, that's a great way to build relationships with the Iraqis - let's try and convert them! I'm sure the chaplain is a perfectly decent person but he HAD to have known what he was doing and i'm glad he was taken off that post. You can't just try and convert someone like that, especially with tensions so high!
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