US Military Celebrates Easter in Afghanistan with Run for Jesus

Bagram Air Base’s chaplains organized a Run for Jesus 5-Miler in which nearly 600 US servicemembers attended a sunrise Easter service followed by a run around the base.  One group even carried an 8-foot cross.

The 82nd CAB Chaplain’s team hosted the first “Run for Jesus” on Bagram Apr. 8. Held on Easter Sunday, the 5-mile race began with a sunrise service hosted by three of the CAB Chaplains. More than 560 people completed the track around Bagram Airfield.

Nearly 700 photos of the event are available on the unit’s Facebook page (in Part I and Part II).

Other US servicemembers in Afghanistan were also able to take time to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior, led by US Army Chaplain (LtCol) Michael Travaglione:

Led by an Army chaplain at FOB Salerno in Khost province, Afghanistan, the small gathering commemorated the life, death, passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

It seems US military units run for everything.  There are memorial runs, “awareness” runs, fun runs, unit runs, anniversary runs, etc.  That the chaplains could organize their own “run” for an event meaningful to the participants is one more statement on the military’s protective treatment of religious freedom.

The event clearly demonstrated the extent to which constitutionally-protected religious exercise is supported by the US military, even in a war zone.  Just don’t tell Chris Rodda.  Her “religious freedom” group thinks American servicemembers celebrating Easter in the AOR puts “the safety of their fellow troops at risk.”  (Scratch that.  Casey Weinstein is on the case…)

For another perspective, read what an atheist wrote on his ongoing blog about the local dining facility at his deployed location (warning for vulgar language) here.  As a retired Air Force officer, Mr. Mark Levack has apparently been on Kandahar Air Base for 3 years and enjoys writing about the DFACs.

51 replies to “US Military Celebrates Easter in Afghanistan with Run for Jesus

  1. Chris Rodda

    Hey, JD, remember who else thought displays of Christianity by our military in Muslim countries put the safety of our troops at risk? General Norman Schwarzkopf.

    You never did answer the question that I’ve now asked you a number of times about whether or not you thought General Schwarzkopf was wrong when he set a policy of not allowing Christian worship services and displays in Muslim countries, right down to having the chaplains removing their crosses from their uniforms.

    So, I’m asking again. I want to see you say flat out, right here, that you think that General Schwarzkopf’s decision not to “wave a red flag in the face of religious extremists,” as he put it, was wrong. Do you think that General Schwarzkopf’s policy regarding religious services, which was “we won’t advertise them, publicize them, or let them be filmed — we don’t want them broadcast on TV for the whole Moslem world to see,” was wrong?

    Come on, JD, don’t you have the guts to answer this simple question?

    Is your answer yes or no? Do you think that General Schwarzkopf’s decision was wrong?

  2. Chris Rodda

    To clarify, Christian worship services were allowed to take place, but they couldn’t be visible and no crosses or other Christian symbols could be displayed at them. That was General Schwarzkopf’s policy.

    So come on, JD. Is your answer yes or no? Do you think that General Schwarzkopf was wrong? Yes or no?

  3. BC

    I for one think Schwarzkopf was wrong to strip chaplains of their branch insignia, and to send Jews out to ships to celebrate Passover. It’s one thing not to wave a flag, it’s something else to hide it and to pretend that America is governed by the rules of the strictest interpretation of Islam–as if we don’t have a First Amendment which prohibits the establishment of religion. Ironically, Prince Bandar gave a crystal chandelier to a Catholic tent chapel in Saudi to complement the faux-marble wooden altar.

    I’m wondering why Chris Rodda and MRFF have been so silent in the wake of the failure of the non-event at Fort Bragg. They spent years fighting to have an atheist event and only a couple hundred came–probably the majority from off post. And they have been silent. It’s been two weeks! No press release!

  4. Richard

    These “Runs for Jesus” seem to counter and even violate CENTCOM’s General Order #1 prohibiting any form of religious display that could be construed as proselytizing.

  5. Richard

    @BC

    BC,

    Sometimes silence is the best way to avoid bigotry and violence. My guess is that many Atheists were afraid to be identified at this event and those who did attend are keeping a low profile. Christians, especially of the Dominion variety can be pretty nasty.

  6. BC

    Oh, I understand that, Richard, on the part of any minority. And I think that MRFF has done some good work in speaking up for those minorities–as Mikey has noted, most of his clients are, in fact, Christians. But here I’m speaking of the silence of the organizations that did so much to make this a high profile event. Not even a report of how it went, who was there, how they felt, what went right, what went wrong. No AAR on whether they did the right thing in the right way. That’s what I’m looking for.

  7. Richard

    @JD

    Centom General Order #1-B.

    Prohibited Activities

    Paragraph K.

    Proselytizing any religion, faith or practice.

    Now, if you are a bunch of G.I’s running in plain view of native workers or general public, carrying a large visible Cross and shouting Jesus name, I would assume that could be construed as proselytizing.

  8. Richard

    @JD

    Please JD. A bunch of white Christians running in their skivvies carrying a 7 foot cross and shouting Jesus name in full view of a Muslim community is not proselytizing? What would you call it? Freedom of Religion? In an Islamic Republic?

    Deaf, Dumb and Blind. I’m sorry. Your objectivity is in question by thinking people.

  9. BC

    Looks to me they are within the wall in that picture. On a US base. Not running through downtown Kabul. You aren’t going off post in shorts. I personally don’t “get” running around the base carrying a large cross, or having a run to celebrate Easter. But it is not proselytizing.

  10. Richard

    Jesus was the guy who said to not make a pulic spectacle of religion. He said not to be as the hypocrites who prayed loudly on the street and in the synagogue that people may see them. He recommended privacy and a whispered prayer.

    It seems to me that the only reason anyone would make a public spectacle out of Christianity is to comply with the dominionist version of the “Great Commission” and display, against orders, an unquestionable attempt to proselytize Christianity.

    As far as the venue of this crass display of religious superiority, it would not matter if only a few Muslim workers or bystanders saw it. If only one saw it, it would still be a concious violation of the intent of General Order #1.

    JD’s defense of this display of disobedience and religious supremacy indicates that he, too, is willing to throw good order and discipline under the bus in favor of his beliefs.

  11. BC

    Obviously the military that gave the order And approved the run disagrees. That’s like saying if one Muslim saw a chaplains branch insignia it would be a violation. As to what Jesus might think of such a display– I think you might be right.

  12. Richard

    @BC

    BC

    Those who allowed this demonstration knew full well that what they were doing was against the very spirit of the order. Like Gen. Boykin, many senior military officers, members of the Officer’s Christian Fellowship, ignore SOP and standing orders to advance their warped Christian belief system .

    The OCF mission is clear: A Spiritually Transformed Military with Government Paid Ambassadors for Christ in Uniform. Doesn’t leave a lot of room for Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and others, does it?

    Throughout the U.S. military, with chapters on virtually every military installation worldwide, lurks an organization of over 15,500 fundamentalist Christian military officers who think their real duty is not to protect and defend the Constitution, but to raise up “a spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit.”

    Religious orthodoxy can best be described as the grave of intelligence. It has caused a number of incidences in the armed forces that could literally be called stupid. These races for Jesus are among those.

  13. JD

    @Richard
    You’re plagiarizing again. If you’re going to use someone else’s words, at least give credit.

    For the record, your erstwhile boss appears to disagree with you. The MRFF does not appear to consider this illegal, amazingly enough.

  14. Richard

    OMG! Plagiarizing! I am so sorry. I just saw that when I googled OCF that was their definition. Would it help if I rephrased it? Let me know.

    Meanwhile with the OCF, MCF, and numbers of commands which sponsor Christian Dominion hegemony in the armed forces, we’ll be lucky to forestall Theocracy. You would think that a reprise of dangerous Christian doctrines would immediately be recognized for what it is, a return of dark ages religion and all that it represents. A giant step backward to a time of religious death and destruction. You can see it in the vacuous eyes of of Gen. Boykin, Gen. Born, Gen. Gould and a number of wing and base commanders, the look of extremism.

  15. JD

    @Richard
    Your entire third paragraph was verbatim from Chris Rodda’s Huffington Post article.

    a return of dark ages religion and all that it represents…

    You’re quite the selective pessimist. On a relative scale, it’s far more likely a Middle Eastern nation — some of which already are theocracies — would try to establish the Caliphate by nuking Israel, yet you don’t seem worried about them.

  16. Richard

    @JD

    Au contraire, mon ami.

    I am certainly worried about Islamic Republics and their own Dominionists. Islamic Dominionists are as ugly, if not more so, than Dominion Christians. Both the Christian and Islamic agendas are on a parallel track. Their efforts are focused on world conquest resulting in mass conversions to Islam or Christianity respectively.

    As yo well know, Israel is a client state of the USA and is basically our foothold in the middle east. We keep them fat and happy with money, weaponry, including nukes, missiles, air craft, etc. Israel is our protege’. Iran and other players are not going to nuke anyone, including Israel because of the sure and swift retalliation winging it’s way to any aggressor from any number of US installations world wide. Now the possibility that an entire nation would join the Martyr Parade still exists and maybe they would be happy to perish if they could get even one shot at Israel.

    But in disecting all this furor do you not agree that religion is the basis for all discord in the mid east and Islam’s desire to obliterate Judaism and Christianity, and our desire to obliterate Islam?

  17. Nate

    Richard :
    Jesus was the guy who said to not make a pulic spectacle of religion.

    Yeah, but Jesus hated religious people. The comment you’re referring to was directed at the Pharisees, very religious people who were very far from God. Read the context. Read one of the Gospels, and you’ll understand what was going on.

  18. Nate

    Maybe hate’s too strong of a word – I mean, he loved them because they were people, but he publicly criticized and rebuked them and hated what they did.

  19. Richard

    Hi Nate. I just figured Jesus was talking about the local Bible Thumper crowd, you know the vocal religious folks like many of our Evangelical, Charismatic and Pentcostal Christians who, even today, find it necessary to loudly proclaim their beliefs and demonstrate their faith. I figure He was not fond of them because they made a dog and pony show about religion which dishonored his Dad and missed the point of quiet worship. I guess that could have included the Pharisees but probably included more. By the way who were the Saducees? (sp)

    The Middle East is a prime example of one religion clashing with another. Islam and Christianity are diametrically opposed on all counts with no points of amelioration.

    Religion and fanatical belief in it have pitted both the militant Dominionist Christians and Islamic Jihad in a death grip of fight to the death. I see absolutely no way to bring these two powerful sides to terms.

  20. Nate

    Richard, your description of the Bible Thumpers is pretty accurate. Jesus didn’t like them. But he never advised against proclaiming or demonstrating faith – in fact, he encouraged it.

    I don’t think these soldiers carrying a cross were trying to proselytize. I wear a cross around my neck 24/7. It stays inside my uniform, like all necklaces must do in uniform, but when I’m in civies it comes out sometimes. I don’t wear it to proselytize. I wear it as a reminder of the price which Jesus paid for my soul. By carrying a cross, these men and women are doing something similar.

    The Saducees were above the Pharisees. They had wealth and power,and they only believed in the Torah, the first five books of the OT. They’re mentioned once in the Gospels, questioning Jesus about the resurrection. Jesus refutes them using a passage from the Torah.

    I suggest you do a little more research into Islam and Christianity before you say they are diametrically opposed. There is a little common ground, and true Islam recommends respect for “People of the Book,” or Christians. And the Bible instructs us to live at peace with everyone, if it is possible.

  21. Chris Rodda

    Come on, JD, you’ve now had a whole week to contemplate my question. You’ve been back to this post several times to respond to other comments. Why not mine?

    Is your answer yes or no? Do you think that General Schwarzkopf’s decision was wrong?

  22. BC

    “Yeah, but Jesus hated religious people. ”

    Jesus was a religious person. He prayed at the temple. He sacrificed at the temple. He ate kosher. He prayed traditional prayers. He wore tallit and tefillin.

  23. BC

    “Islam and Christianity are diametrically opposed on all counts with no points of amelioration. ”

    Well, no. Both believe in the God of Abraham, and that that God created the world, rules men, calls them, speaks through and to them, and will judge them at the end. Both believe that Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus were prophets sent by God. Both believe in prayer, in lives of humility, in modesty and in caring for the poor. They’ve influenced each other positively–the Desert Fathers influenced the Sufis, who in turn influenced St. Francis of Assisi and St. Theresa of Avila and others.

    “Dark ages religion.” Yeah, that dumb era in which Muslim scholars like Averroes and Avicenna, Catholic scholars like Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, and Jewish scholars like Maimonides were able to put aside the hurling of texts and come together using Aristotelian metaphysics as a common language to discuss questions of law and grace, freedom and determinism, the nature of the ideal society, of the virtues, and the oneness of God and the nature of humanity. We could use some of that “darkness” today.

    I am a Christian, I have spoken at mosques, I have Muslim friends.

  24. Richard

    Look you guys I appreciate the history lesson and I understand the higher goals of understanding between religions and those of each faith that strive to point out common ground but irrespective of all that intellectual treatment the bottom line is that to Mulsims, Christians are infidels to be summarily killed. Christians are not a whole lot more civilized and call Muslims “Rag headed heretics and blasphemers.

    I’m sure that between religious scholars of both stripes there can be some degree of cooperation and agreement but in the main, Muslims will kill Christians and visa versa.

    As for both believing in the God of Abraham I just don’t see a lot of compatibility between Allah and Yahweh.

  25. Nate

    @Richard
    Richard, you’re way off. First of all, how many Muslims do you know? How many are in the military? I know there are a few at USAFA, and I was close friends with one in high school. I’ve never killed them, and obviously they’ve never killed me.

    You’re stereotyping both sides based on extremists who don’t even follow important tenets of their respective religions. I stated some of those tenets above.

    Richard :
    the bottom line is that to Mulsims, Christians are infidels to be summarily killed. Christians are not a whole lot more civilized and call Muslims “Rag headed heretics and blasphemers.[sic]

    Bottom line according to who? If you’re looking for the bottom line, I’d go to the Koran and the Bible, and I already told you what they say on the matter.

  26. Richard

    @Nate
    Look, I’m not talking about Americanized Muslims or Moderate Bible Christians. I’m talking about Jihadists Muslims and Dominion Christians. Of the three levels of Jihad, the third calls for violence against non-believers. So even though the basic tenets of Islam call for peaceful practice it can be disrupted, even on a continuing basis by Jihad.

    One can easily tell by the bitter proclamations of many highly placed Dominionist Christian leaders, political and military figures against Islam. Ranging from Pat Robertson, John Hagee and Franklin Graham, to Gen. Boykin, George Bush and others condemning Islam as a false and dangerous religion. I don’t see much brotherhood there.

  27. Nate

    @Richard
    Richard, you didn’t specify who were talking about before – by using the general terms “Muslim” and “Christian,” you implied that all Muslims and Christians were terrorists and downright jerks, respectively. I now realize your point, but please try to avoid lumping everyone in with extremists.

    Is this Franklin Graham’s “bitter proclamation” you were referring to? Doesn’t look very bitter to me. In fact, I see a decent amount of brotherhood.

    http://www.covenantnews.com/graham.htm

    Sorry, not sure how to code the link… or if it will code automatically.

  28. Richard

    Hi Nate. The URL coded fine.

    But this is not what I was saying about Graham. It’s best if you just google Franklin Graham’s remarks on Islam you will see the broad spectrum of attacks and denigrations.

    Lately, under pressure Graham has recanted a bit. But look for the originals. No brotherhood there, my friend.

  29. Nate

    I Googled “Franklin Graham on Islam” and that was the first result I saw. I didn’t see many reputable sources with quotes of Graham on Islam, and it appears most of what he said was taken out of context.

    In any case, he’s made his thoughts clear now, and we can stop saying he’s making” bitter proclamations… against Islam.”

  30. Richard

    @Nate
    OK, I understand why you must have this conclusion on Graham. Otherwise it would conflict greatly with your beliefs. I wouldn’t want to cause you that pain. It is clear that both you and JD must alter the reality of criticism againsy Christianity run amok to assuage any guilt you might feel in that regard.

  31. Nate

    Richard, an ad hominem is a logical fallacy. If you have any real logic or evidence to support your claims, please present it. Otherwise, stop saying he’s making bitter proclamations against Islam, because the primary source is saying nothing of the sort.

  32. Richard

    Graham slammed Islam mercilessly and now has recanted some of it. As long as there are American citizens who are Muslim and in the armed forces, I must try to keep things such as religious supremacy out of the mix. There may well be some hi fallutin’ Muslim and Christian scholars who can point out a detached philosophy in which Christians and Musloms find common ground. But the every day, run of the mill Christian and Muslim are gonna be at each others throats. You’ve just got to read some of your right wing Christian friends to see the blistering hatred for Islam. Peeing on their corpses and burning Kurans doesn’t help either.

  33. Nate

    Richard, you made some claims but provided no sources. None of my “friends” have a blistering hatred for Islam.

    In fact, the philosophy which incites violence between Christians and Muslims based on stereotypical descriptions of faith is the detached one.

    Pretty sure the Quran burning has been discussed here. Peeing on corpses is a terrible thing, but similar – and worse – things have been done in almost every war. Can you provide some background (sources) on this? I suspect it’s not religiously motivated, as such things usually aren’t.

  34. Richard

    @Nate
    Nate, you are probably correct that incidences of enemy corpse desecration is not generated by religious difference but rather by political or just plain enemy differences. There was plenty of corpse desecration between majority Christian forces.

    It must not be forgotten that standard combat training contains racial, religious, gender and nationality elements to describe the enemy and make them seem inferior. Hence, “Jap, Gook, Kraut, Slant, Bosch and even some for our allies like “Limey and Frog.”

  35. Nate

    That’s exactly what I was referring to, although it’s not usually a part of “standard combat training.” It’s usually something soldiers/sailors/airmen/the press come up with on their own.

    You’ve still provided no proof of Franklin Graham’s “blistering hatred for Islam.”

  36. Nate

    What critique have I turned back against you?

    Also, I haven’t been allowed to use Wikipedia as a source since… never. And as I’ve said before, I believe Franklin Graham has made his position clear now, so we can both agree he’s no longer making “bitter proclamations… against Islam.” In fact, he has a pretty brotherly outlook on Islam.

  37. Richard

    Sorta strange how old Franklin changed his minds so quickly after decades of condemning Islam. Now I am snot saying he was entirely wrong anout Islam in the sense of the way it has been practiced under Jihad and Sharia Law. But by lumping all Muslims into one group he did a disservice to the more gentle ones.

    I am including an E-mail received by Mikey Weinstein via the public information dept of MRFF. It’s from an anonymous Christian Women’s Prayer Circle I can vouch for its authenticity and I will send a reply I wrote to them after you have had a chance to digest this letter. I am sending it only to remind us all that there is a lot of calling the kettle black lately.

    [Redacted by Admin]

    Sounds a bit harsh.

  38. Nate

    Richard :
    But by lumping all Muslims into one group he did a disservice to the more gentle ones.

    Earlier, you said,

    …the bottom line is that to Mulsims, Christians are infidels to be summarily killed.

    So you criticized Graham for lumping all Muslims into one group, yet you did the same thing.

    Also, you did not explain how I used the Tu Quoque Defense, although I asked you to.

    The email you quoted is entirely unrelated to the discussion at hand (conflict between Muslims and Christians). Since you are not replying to my questions and instead changing the subject, I’m done here.

  39. JD

    @Richard
    Not only was the email you referenced irrelevant, it is part of an ongoing concerted publicity campaign by Weinstein. As has been noted before, this site is not for his propaganda.

  40. Richard

    This site seems also not for the truth but only for your stilted religious platform. When one redacts a post without letting the site population make a judgement then the site and its management are guilty of preventing evidence from being presented. And I can understand why.

    Nate, I’m sorry, but you will learn the truth at some point. Hopefiully it is not too late. I wish you well but its is time for you to go and cover your head and pliug your ears so that no information contrary to the mythical garbage instilled in you since birth can be debunked in your presence. Your fear is palpable.

  41. Richard

    @JD

    Truth is often hard to take JD. But blocking it out is just a temporary measure. Much like the totalitarian governments of the world, censorship seems to be a viable way to keep public opinion in line but in the end the truth will out.

    It won’t go away. The item you redacted is just one of many hundreds received monthly from Christian supremacists, dominionists and sycophants by MRFF. The word is getting out and soon many more thousands of Americans will be stunned by the near criminal messages received by this fine organization. What matter if the criminals say they are Christian? The matter is that they cast such a chilling pall on religion in general and Christianity in specific that even staunch but legitimate Christians will join the fight against these usurpers of true Christianity.

  42. JD

    @Richard
    Everybody who has a remotely public presence gets “hate mail.” It does not legitimize an otherwise invalid argument.

    This site gets “hate mail,” too, some of it directed here expressly by the MRFF. Inappropriate conduct knows no ideology.

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