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US military destroys soldier's Bibles in Afghanistan

By Adriana Stuijt     May 8, 2009 in World
The US military confirmed that it 'has destroyed some Bibles belonging to an American soldier serving in Afghanistan." The stack of Bibles at Bagram Air Base north of Kabul were filmed over a year ago.The clips were shown by Al Jazeera TV this month.
The clips showed US soldiers at a Bible class on a base with a stack of Bibles translated into the local Pashto and Dari languages. see
The US military forbids its members on active duty — including those based in places like Afghanistan — from trying to convert people to any other religion.
The footage, shot about a year ago by Brian Hughes, a documentary maker and former member of the US military who spent several days in Bagram, was obtained by Al Jazeera's James Bays, who has covered Afghanistan extensively.
In other footage captured at Bagram, Sergeant Jon Watt, a soldier who is set to become a military chaplain, is seen giving thanks for the work that his church in the US did in getting Bibles printed and sent to Afghanistan.
"I also want to praise God because my church collected some money to get Bibles for Afghanistan. They came and sent the money out," he is heard saying during a Bible study class.
It was never made clever if the Bibles were ever distributed to Afghans, but Hughes said that none of the people he recorded in a series of sermons and Bible study classes appeared to able to speak Pashto or Dari.
"They weren't talking about learning how to speak Dari or Pashto, by reading the Bible and using that as the tool for language lessons," Hughes said.
"The only reason they would have these documents there was to distribute them to the Afghan people. And I knew it was wrong, and I knew that filming it … documenting it would be important."
Maj. Jennifer Willis at the Bhagram Air Base, north of Kabul said this week that “I can now confirm that the Bibles shown on Al Jazeera’s clip were, in fact, collected by the chaplains and later destroyed. They were never distributed.”
According to military officials, the Bibles were sent through private mail to an evangelical Christian soldier by his church back home. see
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, also told a Pentagon briefing Monday that the military’s position is that it will never “push any specific religion.”
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