photos by Michael Macor
Near Fallujah
With US forces massing outside Fallujah, 35 marines swayed to Christian rock music and asked Jesus Christ to protect them in what could be the biggest battle since American troops invaded Iraq last year. Men with buzzcuts and clad in their camouflage waved their hands in the air, M-16 assault rifles beside them, and chanted heavy metal-flavoured lyrics in praise of Christ late on Friday in a yellow-brick chapel. They counted among thousands of troops surrounding the city of Fallujah, seeking solace as they awaited Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's decision on whether or not to invade Fallujah. "You are the sovereign. You're name is holy. You are the pure spotless lamb," a female voice cried out on the loudspeakers as the marines clapped their hands and closed their eyes, reflecting on what lay ahead for them. The US military, with many soldiers coming from the conservative American south and midwest, has deep Christian roots.
In times that fighting looms, many soldiers draw on their evangelical or born-again heritage to help them face the battle. "It's always comforting. Church attendance is always up before the big push," said first sergeant Miles Thatford. "Sometimes, all you've got is God." Between the service's electric guitar religious tunes, marines stepped up on the chapel's small stage and recited a verse of scripture, meant to fortify them for war. One spoke of their Old Testament hero, a shepherd who would become Israel's king, battling the Philistines 3 000 years ago. "Thus David prevailed over the Philistines," the marine said, reading from scripture, and the marines shouted back "Hoorah, King David," using their signature grunt of approval. The marines drew parallels from the verse with their present situation, where they perceive themselves as warriors fighting barbaric men opposed to all that is good in the world. "Victory belongs to the Lord," another young marine read. Their chaplain, named Horne, told the worshippers they were stationed outside Fallujah to bring the Iraqis "freedom from oppression, rape, torture and murder ... We ask you God to bless us in that effort."
Holy oil
The marines then lined up and their chaplain blessed them with holy oil to protect them. "God's people would be anointed with oil," the chaplain said, as he lightly dabbed oil on the marines' foreheads. The crowd then followed him outside their small auditorium for a baptism of about a half-dozen marines who had just found Christ. The young men lined up and at least three of them stripped down to their shorts. The three laid down in a rubber dinghy filled with water and the chaplain's assistant, navy corpsman Richard Vaughn, plunged their heads beneath the surface. Smiling, Vaughn baptised them "in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." Dripping wet, corporal Keith Arguelles beamed after his baptism. "I just wanted to make sure I did this before I headed into the fight," he said on the military base not far from the city of Fallujah.


  1. I think you'll find that Jesus called his followers to be peacemakers, not kill people.

  2. Jesus says, "God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God" in Matthew 5.

    The US military is working for peace by stopping the real killers who are terrorizing and murdering innocent victims. I shudder to think what the world would be like today if the allies had not stopped Hilter and his armies in World War 2!

    And in World War 1, there was a Christian soldier named Alvin York who struggled over the idea of fighting in a war. After much prayer, York eventually experienced an "emotional commitment to the war against Germany," convinced the Germans were trying to overrun the world. York matched this idea with a Biblical quote: "Blessed are the peacemakers ...", taking the stance that " ... We were to help make peace the only way the Germans would understand ..." He became a hero and a movie was made about him in 1941 called, "Sergeant York" with Gary Cooper (and believe it or not, my 2nd cousin, Joan Leslie, starred as his wife in the movie). To read his story, go here: and to see pics of Joan Leslie, go here:

    We are also in a spiritual war but as Christians, we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms. (Eph 6)

    Please note that Jesus also says Matthew 10, "Don't imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! No, I came to bring a sword. I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be right in your own household! If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give it up for me, you will find it." In Luke 12 it is written like this: "Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to bring strife and division! 52From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against--or the other way around. There will be a division between father and son, mother and daughter, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law."

    Yes, war is hard any way you look at it, but if you need to defend yourself, defend your family or your nation, sometimes war is necessary. The war in Iraq was needed to rescue innocent victims living there. Instead of being critcal, let's pray to God for a speedy end to this conflict while supporting our military.


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