Military Mission

Back in 2003, Porter Memorial Church in Lexington led a Southern Baptist mission to Iraq. The AP reported at the time:

The group’s destination is northern Iraq. They say they are obeying Jesus’ command to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, but say they will be respectful of the Muslims they encounter.

“We’re going to go in as Christian Americans. We’re not going to go in as ugly Americans, thinking the world revolves around us,” said one of the missionaries, Mike Moynahan.

…Trent Snyder, the church’s minister of singles, says the Baptists will be culturally sensitive and won’t coerce anybody.

“We are not going over there to cram our faith down anyone’s throat,” he said. “We’re not going to be going over there shouting ‘I’m a Christian. Take this bible or else.'”

Fair enough in principle – although there is always the worry that American missionaries might offend local Muslims who might then take things out on local Christians. The Kentucky Baptist Western Recorder gives a report on the mission, which took place at the end of the year:

The group distributed 200 Bibles along with 650 bags of food weighing about 40 pounds each, according to Bill Henard, pastor of Porter Memorial.

Henard had an encounter with a Kurdish chief:

The chief replied, “We are not friends, we are brothers,” before embracing the pastor and kissing him on the cheek.

When Henard followed up with the offer of a New Testament, the leader put the Bible on his head and said, “If this is a gift from you, I must receive it and I must read it.”

Back in Kentucky, the Men’s Ministry of Porter Memorial has now just hosted a “Men’s Night Out” worship service that doubled up as a military recruitment drive. Of course, “Southern Baptist Church is pro-Military” is hardly a headline, but the event, described here (reposted from another site, from where it has been taken down) with photos, appears to be on a new level of bombast, and the recruitment aspect is a new element. The writer, a pro-war conservative, noted:

I know it’s ridiculously bad taste but yes, that really is Jesus on the cross in the first picture…in behind our troops. When the final modern troop stepped out too the front and center he thrust his rifle one handed into the air to shouts of approval, the Jesus footage was still playing, and at that particular point even my dad was uncomfortable.


Somalia veteran Jeff Sturecker provided the sermon:

Captain Sturecker preached to us in full dress uniform about his early faith was based in fear of going to hell, but now he doesn’t need to fear death, and about his experiences in the black hawk affair. In particular he prayed after his first drive back to base (If you’ve seen the movie, he was the humvee driver with the injured man on strecher [sic] in the back. He was also the guy that said, “The difference in between heroes and cowards isn’t the fear it’s what they do with it”), and after that even though the vehicle was shot to hell, he had no casualties. He even watched an RPG barely miss its mark and deflect off his hood. Every word of this might be true, but it was also part of a “The lord will protect you in the military” themed sermon.

Those wanting to sign up there and then could go to tables of literature.

So, the US armed forces are recruiting at a church that puts a high premium on converting Iraqi Muslims. And a church that wants to present its missionaries as culturally sensitive Christians rather than as “ugly Americans” has decided to celebrate American militarism in the most triumphalist manner possible. Some would say that might be rather unwise for all concerned…

(Link via Jesus’ General)

One Response

  1. […] with Episcopal Church? Posted on November 8, 2005 by Richard Bartholomew Back in February, I reported on a church service at Porter Memorial, Kentucky which was doubling as a military recruitment […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.