Where the US army fears to tread
Our military forces are admired and feared throughout the world for their technological sophistication and crackerjack organization. That's only the half of it, of course. The men and women who make up our fighting forces are fittingly cited for their courage and resourcefullness.
But when it comes to standing up for our values in foreign lands, our military often comes up short. Nowhere is this demonstrated more plainly than in an incident that occurred in Afghanistan at a military base.
A large cross that had been prominently displayed outside a chapel on an isolated military base in northern Afghanistan was taken down last week, prompting outrage from some American service members stationed there.
"We are here away from our families, and the chapel is the one place that feels like home," a service member at Camp Marmal told POLITICO. "With the cross on the outside, it is a constant reminder for all of us that Jesus is here for us."
"Not having it there is really upsetting," added another. "I walk by the chapel daily on the way to chow and the gym, and seeing the cross is a daily reminder of my faith and what Jesus accomplished for me. It is daily inspiration and motivation for me to acknowledge my faith and stay on the right path."
Surprisingly, there were no complaints from local Muslims. It turns out that this is army policy:
"Distinctive religious symbols, such as crosses... will not be affixed or displayed permanently on the chapel interior, exterior or grounds," reads the manual.
No doubt the reason it's in the manual is to avoid having to deal with issues such as Muslims becoming angered about a Christian symbol in their country. It's a horrible rule and should be rescinded.
You certainly can't argue with this:
"I really don't understand why Christians are always attacked. If it was a crescent moon on top of a mosque, it would never be taken down," said an Army serviceman.
"We would just like to know where the line is. The chaplains wear different religious symbols on their uniforms depending on which religion they are. Is that the next thing to be targeted?" added a second service member