McClatchy says the U.S. military is investigating reports that Marines have been handing out religious material at checkpoints in Fallujah, Iraq.
"Multi-National Force-Iraq is investigating a report that U.S. military personnel in Fallujah handed-out material that is religious and evangelical in nature," spokesman Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll says in a statement to the news organization. "Local commanders are investigating since the military prohibits proselytizing any religion, faith or practices."
Local residents say the Americans distributed coins inscribed with a verse from the Bible.
"We say to the occupiers to stop this," Sheikh Mohammed Amin Abdel Hadi says, according to McClatchy. "This can cause strife between the Iraqis and especially between Muslim and Christians . … Please stop these things and leave our homes because we are Muslims and we live in our homes in peace with other religions."
USA TODAY has requested additional information from commanders in Iraq.
Update at 8:55 a.m. ET: One of the coins, according to McClatchy, says "Where will you spend eternity?" on one side and "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16." on the other side.
Some of you may be wondering, "So what?" The "so what" is that many in the Arab country think that the United States is on a crusade to change them. They think the United States does not respect their values, culture, and mostly, their religion. Of course, that is not true, as a matter of policy. But this type of thing makes that deniable difficult to stand by. It certainly looks like the government of the United States is trying to prosyletize, when uniformed soldiers are passing out the Gospel.
The guys should be tried, convicted, and discharged.
"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." — Ann Coulter, 9/13/01