US Military Celebrates Jesus Christ’s Resurrection in Baghdad, 2016
How many people thought after the US invaded Iraq in 2003 that we’d still be celebrating Easter in Baghdad in 2016?
In Iraq, chaplains and their support teams used air and ground support to provide Easter services for troops throughout the country, including the location formerly known as Fire Base Bell — the small outpost attacked a little more than a week prior.
The Easter sunrise service was just one of five religious services held at Union III and one of many services across the CJFLCC-OIR area of operations in celebration of the holiday.
A few official news sources have begun to document this year’s other celebrations of Easter by US military forces around the world.
We go through a lot of different situations in life and difficult times, and our faith gets us through. I am glad we could come together and worship as a family.
During the Easter sunrise, they sang hymns and read scriptures.
In the field at US Air Force survival training, Fairchild AFB, Washington, a chaplain received special permission to enter the training environment for Easter services:
“We started Easter services because we saw Easter Sunday as the holiest day in the Christian calendar,” said Chaplain (Capt) Joshua Rumsey. “We wanted to meet that need with as limited interruption to their training day.”
Rumsey and Chaplain (Maj) Jonathan Harmon coordinated with leadership on base and the churches to be able to provide the services correctly. Harmon received special admittance to be able to present the Eucharist himself.
On the USS Harry S. Truman, Easter was accompanied by three baptisms:
“Baptisms are a sacred tradition for us and to have it done on a carrier makes for a very special occasion,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kimberly Cain, one of Truman’s Chaplains. “While out at sea we use any resources available to us – like a tub filled with water. In our tradition, we do a full immersion for a baptism – this is when the water covers their entire body and the candidate is completely submersed. It feels good to be able to worship and hold a service on this particular day.”
Religious freedom is a human freedom, and it is our “first liberty.” It is admirable the US military would take such steps to ensure the ability of its troops to celebrate their holy days — even when they’re in combat zones, and even when they’re in countries whose governments might be hostile to the celebration of their religion.
Of course, US troops have been celebrating Christ’s resurrection during wartime for many years:
On the other hand, military religious freedom does have its detractors. Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s research assistant Chris Rodda once famously claimed Easter services conducted by US troops in the Middle East and Afghanistan “put the safety of their fellow troops at risk,” implying the Christianity of US troops shouldn’t publicly be displayed. While it was notable she wasn’t concerned about other religions’ public displays — like Jewish Sukkahs and pagan bonfires — it seems history has confirmed her anti-Christian scare-mongering was unfounded (as is just about everything Chris Rodda says).