Pushing Christian Conversion in Iraq

This article describes how some Marines are pushing for Christian conversions of Iraqis. Apparently, some Marines are taking it upon themselves to try to convert Iraqis by handing out some coins with John 3:16 on them.

FALLUJAH, Iraq – At the western entrance to the Iraqi city of Fallujah Tuesday, Muamar Anad handed his residence badge to the U.S. Marines guarding the city. They checked to be sure that he was a city resident, and when they were done, Anad said, a Marine slipped a coin out of his pocket and put it in his hand.

Out of fear, he accepted it, Anad said. When he was inside the city, the college student said, he looked at one side of the coin. “Where will you spend eternity?” it asked.

He flipped it over, and on the other side it read, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16.”

“They are trying to convert us to Christianity,” said Anad, a Sunni Muslim like most residents of this city in Anbar province. At home, he told his story, and his relatives echoed their disapproval: They’d been given the coins, too, he said.

Dogemporer over at DailyKos has a series of 3 stories covering this in more details: coin source,
history, and current proselytizing in Iraq.

As it turns out, one group of folks promoting these “bible coins” specifically to Marines are a group calling themselves Basic Training Bible Ministries and specifically a group calling itself Osborne Coinage.

and

Osborne Coinage would appear to be primarily a token manufacturer–making the sorts of coins formerly used in the NYC subway system, the tokens at old arcades and present-day casinos, and so on. (One of their more popular lines apparently seems to be custom coins for Mardi Gras krewes.) Hence, we must look more at the group promoting the coins.

The proprietor of these coins, one Gene Cunningham, is linked with at least two fundamentalist “Bible churches” (and maintains links with several others. (As best can be determined, his group would fit more in the vein of “Fundamentalist Baptist” than neopentecostal.)

It appears that this is an organized effort by several Christian ministries to try to convert Iraqi citizens to Christianity. The only problem to this scheme is that if an Iraqi converts to Christianity, the only choice the person has is to leave the country. Also, these “ministries”have helped destroy the existing Christian communities in Iraq by aggravating tensions between these old Christian communities and the Muslim majority. Two million Christians have already left Iraq as refugees.

Additionally, this will drastically increase the tensions between the mostly Christian US forces and the mostly Muslim Iraqis. Why allow this to happen?

Of course, as soon as this hit the press, a scapegoat or scapegoats have to be found.

A military statement said “appropriate action” will be taken if the reports are substantiated.

Yeah, but what about the commanders and chaplains who encourage this type of behavior? Will they be punished?

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