Violation on Video

"God's Soldier"

"Hey, this is God. Come to Bible study!"
- Chaplain Capt. Popov, illegally promoting evangelical Christianity in Discovery's Military Channel documentary

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On September 10, 2008, the Discovery Channel's Military Channel aired a two-hour program titled "God's Soldier." Filmed at Forward Operating Base (FOB) McHenry in Hawijah, Iraq, the program's credits say it was "Produced with the full co-operation of the 2-27 Infantry Battalion "Wolfhounds.'"

The co-producer of "God's Soldier" was Jerusalem Productions, a British production company whose "primary aim is to increase understanding and knowledge of the Christian religion and to promote Christian values, via the broadcast media, to as wide an audience as possible." In its attempt to get non-Christians to watch Christian programming, the company "focuses on those programmes which are broadcast outside designated religious slots and which appeal to an audience which does not necessarily have an active Christian commitment."

The Military Channel's description of the program was highly deceptive and inaccurate: "Follow a group of U.S. Army Chaplains from different faiths on a tour of duty in Iraq as they comfort wounded and dying soldiers, reassure panicked and depressed soldiers, as well debriefing those soldiers that return from their tours of duty."

There was no "group" of Chaplains or representation of different faiths. The entire two-hour program was about one Christian chaplain, Capt. Charles Popov. This was Christian programming marketed to a mainstream audience with the help of the U.S. military.

Bible verse text captions that appear between segments of the program included "I did not come to bring peace, but the sword" and "Put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may stand your ground."

As the narrator of "God's Soldier" introduces Chaplain Popov at the beginning of the program, Popov is standing on on top of what appears to be a building or vehicle, yelling out to the base, "Hey this is God. Come to Bible study tonight at 1900. Purpose Driven Life. You only have 25,000 days in your life, and probably half of it's gone."

The next shot of Popov shows him looking out over the base towards the chapel, which, in violation of Army regulations for chapels, has a permanent cross on its door. Later scenes reveal that this cross is actually a large cross shaped window covering about a third of the height of the door.

Popov blessing a group of soldiers about to go out on a patrol: "I pray that you would give them the ability to exterminate the enemy and to accomplish the task that they're been sent forth by God and country to do. In Christ's name I pray. Amen."

This is immediately followed by Popov saying to more soldiers: "Every soldier should know Romans 13, that the government is set up by God, and the magistrate, or the one who wields the sword -- you have not swords but 50 cals and [unintelligible] like that -- does not yield it in vain because the magistrate has been called, as you, to execute wrath upon those who do evil."

If this "execute wrath upon those who do evil" mantra sounds familiar to the regular readers of our newsletter, it should. This is the same ideology pushed by Campus Crusade for Christ's Military Ministry.

It is also promoted by Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren, who stated in a recent interview with Sean Hannity that "the Bible says that evil cannot be negotiated with. It has to just be stopped.... In fact, that is the legitimate role of government. The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers. Not good-doers. Evildoers."

The Purpose Driven Life, as noted in MRFF's recent exposure of the use of creationism as a means of preventing military suicides, is second only to the Bible itself as the most widely promoted religious book to our military. Clearly, as the first quote above shows, Capt. Popov is one of the many chaplains using this book.

According to the "God's Soldier" program, "Chaplain (CPT) Charles Popov is currently studying at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina's US Army Chaplain School in the Army C-4 class, which is preparing him for a Brigade Chaplain supervisory position and the rank of Major."

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