Air Force Throws Out Bibles but Forces Observance of Ramadan

The Air Force has decided to force our airmen serving in Bahrain to observe the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. In case you think I must be making it up, read it for yourselves at Stars and Stripes, the official military news website.

U.S. personnel accustomed to drinking their coffee on the drive to work will have to put that habit on hold for about a month. It’s one of a few lifestyle changes Americans will have to make during the holy month of Ramadan.

For the 8,200 U.S. personnel living here, and those serving throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility — including service members, civilian personnel, contractors and family members — the month may require changing some daily routines.

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Navy officials are requiring U.S. personnel to dress more conservatively off-base during Ramadan. Although not a requirement by Bahraini authorities, the Navy is demanding that men wear long-sleeved shirts and women wear sleeved blouses that cover their elbows. Also, men must wear long trousers, and women should wear pants or skirts that cover the knees.

Base cultural advisers have spent the last few weeks conducting Ramadan briefs to educate Americans about the holy month. Ali Hassan briefed about 150 personnel Tuesday about Islam, the lunar calendar and customs and traditions during Ramadan.

islamsoldiersHassan encouraged personnel to experience Iftar in a Ramadan tent, many of which are set up at various locations around Bahrain during the holy month and welcome non-Muslims.

“Make it a point to visit these tents while you’re here. You don’t know if you’ll ever come back to Bahrain in the future,” Hassan said during the brief.

For the last few years the Air Force has been cracking down on the rights of its Christians servicemen and women (see examples here, here and here), so this embrace of Islam is downright disturbing. The Air Force has repeatedly claimed that it is not persecuting Christian servicemen but only enforcing the imaginary “separation of church and state.” This latest acceptance of Islam seems to throw all of those rebuttals into question.

Just a couple of months ago the Air Force decided that they wouldn’t allow one of America’s most cherished Christian organizations, the Gideons, to distribute Bible’s to welcoming service people anymore.

For more than a decade new military recruits at Maxwell Air Force Base – Gunter Annex in Alabama have received a Bible from Gideons International volunteers. But that tradition has come to an end after volunteers said they were told by the military that they would no longer be allowed to personally distribute the pocket-sized Bibles to recruits.

“They kicked us out,” Gideon’s volunteer Michael Fredenburg told me in a telephone interview from his home in Montgomery, Ala. “They told us, ‘get your Bibles out.’”

So it’s not okay for the Gideons to give Bible’s to our airmen, it’s not okay for a soldier to write a verse on his white board which is for private and public correspondence, and it’s not okay for Christian servicemen to believe gay marriage is wrong… but it is totally acceptable for the military to force our servicemen and women to learn about Ramadan, to adjust their lifestyle for Ramadan, and to encourage our servicemen and women to TAKE PART in RAMADAN?

This makes absolutely no sense.

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