Chaplain Bans Quran Distribution in Afghanistan

Prominent milblogger BlackFive obtained a copy of a US Army memo from Afghanistan restricting the distribution of Qurans:

Qurans will only be distributed to US Servicemembers who are Muslim as indicated on their identification tags…Exceptions…will be granted if the Service Member has a memorandum signed by his Commander that states the reason for obtaining a Quran provided by the chaplain.

Qurans will not be placed in general literature distribution racks.  They will be kept in a secure location…

The memo is signed by US Army Chaplain (LTC) Eric Albertson, a Catholic priest with a long military history that includes a Purple Heart.  He specifically notes it is relevant only to RC(E), which refers to a military regional command of Afghanistan (over which he is presumably the Command Chaplain).  USAF Chaplain Jon Trainer commented on the article emphasizing it was not USFOR-A guidance (that is, coming from the US leadership in Afghanistan).

While it may seem moot to some (what non-Muslim wants a Quran anyway?), it is actually not unusual for servicemembers to explore other religious beliefs — or even convert (to Islam) — while deployed.  Arguably, given the cultural importance of Islam in the region, members of the military might actually benefit from reading the Koran.

Blackfive accurately notes the overrestrictive irony:  Those same service members can get a Quran from anywhere else, just not chaplains:

Can you order one up from Barnes & Noble?  Sure.  You just can’t get one from the chaplain.

Perennial critic of Christian religious freedom, Michael Weinstein, has predictably remained silent on this uniquely restrictive order on religious freedom.

Via and John Hayward at