I Get Religious Mail: Bibles, Not Peace

The flow of religious junk mail in my mailbox seems to be accelerating. Here’s the latest, a begging letter from the American Bible Society. (Click for larger.)

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The thrust of this solicitation is that American soldiers deployed abroad desperately want to read Bibles, but somehow can’t get any – a near-certain falsehood to begin with, given the extreme saturation of fundamentalist religion in the military.

Included in the envelope was a “Christmas Blessing” card with a nativity scene on the front and a pamphlet of Bible verses stapled to it, which they want me to sign and return so that it can be given to some soldier somewhere. But of course, what they really want is money. There’s one sentence that struck me as especially ugly, hinting that it’s urgent to get Bibles to soldiers because a service member killed in the line of duty might wind up suffering eternal torture if they don’t have one:

Every day could be a Service Member’s last. We must share Christ through God’s Word with them while we can.

Interestingly, this letter doesn’t make any claim that sending Bibles to soldiers will help end war, bring about a reduction in violence, or anything like that. Despite the Christmas theme, there’s a glaring lack of peace-on-Earth type messages. If anything, it implies that it will make the soldiers better at killing:

In God’s Word, they can find the hope, comfort and strength they need to do their most difficult jobs in the war zone.

This kind of letter is the archetype of purely individualized, self-focused American evangelicalism, where salvation has nothing to do with morality, nothing to do with peace, nothing to do with justice. It’s solely a matter of whether each person recites the proper magic words. As far as the American Bible Society is apparently concerned, bloodshed and killing can continue unabated, just as long as they get to press their religious books into the hands of all the combatants.

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