Readers respond to "Onward Christian Soldiers" by Max Blumenthal.

Published April 17, 2003 10:32PM (EDT)

[Read "Onward Christian Soldiers" by Max Blumenthal.]

Is this the Charles Stanley who did not consider an adulterous affair a sufficient reason to resign as a minister of the gospel?

I am an elder in a Baptist church in the UK and have many Christian friends, most of them Southern Baptists. I have watched with great sorrow the Southern Baptists become a group more concerned with imposing upon others their own narrow understanding of scripture than on living in step with the Holy Spirit.

This latest manifestation of their arrogant self-righteousness, and their attempts to conflate the gospel of Jesus Christ with the program of the GOP, serve only to confirm my fear that the Southern Baptist Church can no longer claim to be a church of Christ. Instead it is the church of the apparently sin-free and God-appointed United States.

-- Frank Baines

What exactly is your point?

That Iraqis may receive succor, aid and compassion from Christians?

That, possibly, if asked, those Christians may share the Gospel with Muslims?

That, perhaps, if moved by the Spirit, some Muslims may become Christian?

I'm not a wild-eyed evangelical. Though I live in Tennessee, I'm a Yankee by birth and upbringing. I belong to an Episcopal church; I voted for Bill Clinton (once) and I read the New York Times every day. Listen to NPR, too.

I don't fit the mold into which you have tried to force every Christian. And I think this piece is silly, trite, and attempts to generate disdain and hatred. It calls the reader to make blanket generalizations and appeals to an ugly fear and prejudice. It truly insults the readers' intelligence.

-- Mary Schaefer

No one should be surprised at the Christian Right evangelizing in post-Saddam Iraq. The Bush administration wishes to reward its far-right-wing supporters by permitting this, even though it will inflame followers of Islam and undo whatever good comes from obliterating the regime in Iraq.

Since Bush was elected, the Christian right has been emboldened by the faith espoused by Bush, Ashcroft, and now, Mr. Paige, our secretary of education.

I firmly believe that since the Republican Party is vigorously funded by right-wing Republican groups, the Bush administration feels it must return the favor by allowing proselytizing Christians to muck up the picture in Iraq.

Money and votes. Dear God, please save us from people who believe in you.

-- Susan Weaver

Max Blumenthal's report on evangelical activity in Iraq is disturbing, but only to those who believe their moral opposition to any Christian evangelism should translate into government opposition to such evangelism. It's a tired, threadbare trope of the anti-Christian left, almost an inside joke, that the presence of an evangelical Christian in the White House by definition betokens a breakdown in the separation of church and state.

As if Blumenthal's report actually presented evidence of U.S. government support -- as opposed to toleration -- of American evangelism!

Left unspoken, as part of the facade of journalistic objectivity, is Blumenthal's favored response to this threat of Armageddon: kick the evangelists out, prohibit evangelical broadcasts, prohibit the importation of the Bible into Iraq, etc.

Well, this would be exactly what the Hussein regime did, and what the Taliban did, and what the Saudis and Chinese and other regimes still do.

I wouldn't have thought that Blumenthal would associate himself with such policies. But then again, anti-Christianity is such a crucial leg of the anti-Republican agenda that no friend is too tainted -- e.g., ANSWER -- to qualify for allegiance.

In any case, it is not, nor should it ever be, the business of the U.S. government to restrict religious activity -- anywhere.

I concede that if it could be demonstrated that evangelical activity poses a direct threat to the safety of American personnel, strictures and proscriptions would be in order.

But I refuse to believe that Christians should be denied their right to religious expression because some intellectuals believe that evangelicals are acting against America's long-term interests.

-- James Clark

As a Christian, I am often troubled by the equating of Christianity and the "religious right" movement in politics. There are those who will use any means, including religion, to further their political agendas, and it troubles me deeply that many Christians in power were in support of this, or any, war.

That said, I find it difficult to believe that the sending of food and water and, yes, the Christian message, is being met with vehemence and opposition in the media. I have seen more coverage about this one issue in the past day than I have of the long-standing persecution, mutilation, and killings of Christians by the tens of thousands in Sudan, Nigeria, and many other countries by the Muslim majorities.

As a Christian, I have a duty to tell others of the life-altering love available in Jesus, and that by calling on Him they can be saved. But it is a message that must be spoken in love, not through manipulation or at the end of an M-16.

The Christian message is the ultimate message of acceptance; Christ takes you just where you are in life, accepts you and transforms you. I just pray that those who choose to go to Iraq do so in love and not to further their political agenda.

-- Luis Garcia-Rivera

I knew it would not take long for our Bible thumpers to raise their voices in an attempt to convert the infidels.

Sound familiar? The Crusaders did it over a thousand years ago. Richard the Lionhearted massacred Muslims by the thousands, all in the name of Jesus. The Inquisition worked on the unredeemed to change their hearts to the loving Christian religion -- and if it didn't work, into the bonfire with them.

Nowadays, the Inquisition and the Crusades are called Southern Baptists, etc. It is the same dog with a new collar. What arrogance born out of stupidity and ignorance.

We do not need more fire and brimstone. The Muslims have Allah and he is the same as God. Religion has been responsible for most of the wars and philosophy has not yet decided whether God even exists.

-- Richard Palmer

The article "Onward Christian Soldiers" fails to mention the key issue about Christian evangelism. The U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees free speech and freedom of religion. This declaration means that Christian evangelists are guaranteed free speech, and Muslims are guaranteed the right to convert to Christianity if they so choose.

I'd hope that Salon could support the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, instead of justifying repressing free speech and freedom of religion.

Blumenthal also leaves out another key fact about Christian evangelists in Muslim countries: They get lots of converts to Christianity.

Muslims are free to seek converts in non-Muslim countries. Why shouldn't Christians be free to seek converts in Muslim countries?

Blumenthal's article is unfortunately supporting a racist double standard, and Salon should give this kind of logic the boot.

-- Richard Koris

Considering all the abuse the Iraqi people have suffered under the Saddam regime since 1979, is it justified to inflict more psychological damage upon them?

There is an intense need for medical supplies in Iraq. Those needs have not been met by the U.S. military, and civilians injured as a result of American bombs and shootings are dying.

Will these Christian missionaries offer such aid in exchange for baptism? How about food for baptism? Or showers? Are these Christians not embarrassed?

Provide humanitarian aid. Leave the Bibles at home.

-- Gregory Mysko

By Salon Staff

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