Gen Robert Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently attended an iftar meal ending Ramadan fasting in Baltimore. Generally speaking, such events should be non-events, though senior military leaders publicly attending religious events occasionally brings criticism (normally when they’re Christian events).
One notable statement from Gen Neller [emphasis added]:
Neller shared some stories about his travels as a Marine to places where he was the minority as a white, Catholic American. He spoke about using what he knows about Islam to find common ground with Iraqi leaders during a year spent in Anbar province.
“We’re all sons of Abraham – why are you fighting me?” Neller recalled telling them.
It’s a fascinating statement on several levels. It’s a valid Read more
Members of the 90th Air Refueling Squadron deployed to Incirlik, Turkey, took full advantage of their exposure to a foreign culture — even participating in the local Islamic “Feast of Sacrifice:”
The feast’s origins come from the story of Abraham heading up a mountain to sacrifice his son, but his son’s life was spared by God’s provision of a ram. In a spirit of thankfulness during this festival, animals are sacrificed and the meat divided into portions — some being kept by the family, and the rest given away to the poor.
The unit’s commander noted the troops’ desire to participate in the religious festival, despite the fact they weren’t Muslims: Read more
Special Forces from Albania recently helped their fellow coalition troops participate in the Islamic celebration of Eid al-Adha, which “celebrates Abraham’s act of obedience” with regard to the command to sacrifice his son Isaac.
The event organized by the Albanian Special Operations Force Contingent Eagle Five brought together Muslim and non-Muslim service members Read more
Lt. Col. John Painter is the wing chaplain at Charleston Air Force Base and the staff chaplain at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston. He has served servicemembers in war as well as their families back home.
Regardless of the religious denomination, Painter serves as an everyday spiritual needs adviser, providing religious consulting and Read more
The previous article began to answer the question Can a Christian Serve in the US Military? by addressing the common pacifist criticisms of military service by Christians. This article asks the more direct question: Does the Bible actually support military service by Christians?
Men of God, and War
Despite the sometime pacifist assumptions placed upon Christian belief, many Biblical men of old and renown have been soldiers and still been faithful men of God — and nowhere was their military service questioned. Abraham, whom God selected to bless as the father of His chosen nation, was one of the earliest “generals” (Genesis 14:14-15). Moses and Joshua both led the Israelites in countless battles. God Himself ordered the Israelites to battle, and commanded His own army, for that matter (2 Kings 6:17). David, a “man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), said that God “trained his hands for battle” (Psalm 18:34). David not only fought in war but also participated in some of the most brutal acts of slaughter recorded in the Bible (for example, when he arbitrarily killed every two lengths of the defeated Moabites (2 Samuel 8 )). In the military tradition of “praise the Lord and pass the ammunition,” Nehemiah “prayed to…God and posted a guard,” and told the leaders of Jerusalem to “remember the Lord…, and fight” (4:9, 14).
Thus, to claim all war is evil is to say not only that God Read more
Frequent articles have noted the unique experiences to which US military members have access as they travel the world at their nation’s call. They may be able to visit the home lands of Abraham; they may be able to travel to Mecca at the government’s expense. In Japan, they may be able to join a military-based tour group on a “spiritual journey” to a local Buddhist monastery.
As noted in an official Marine article, Marines based at Iwakuni went on a “spiritual journey” to a local temple hosted by Tadahisa Teshima: Read more
Previous articles have noted that US forces have taken the advantage of the unique opportunities to see once-in-a-lifetime sights while deployed to Iraq. Another recent trip to the Ziggurat of Ur near Talil, Iraq, highlighted that these trips are certainly not mere MWR outings:
Since the ziggurat was located outside COB Adder, Soldiers convoyed to the site in Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. Read more