against Afghanistan despite fears for the safety of eight detained Western aid workers, accused of preaching the Gospel in this Moslem nation.

The Presbyterian News Service said Tuesday, September 25, that some of the more than 64,000 Presbyterians serving in the active forces of the military have already been deployed to potentially explosive areas such as the Persian Gulf.

Christian military personnel of other denominations are also believed to be among US troops serving in that troubled part of the world.

Thomas Chadwich, director of the Presbyterian Council for Chaplains and Military Personnel, was quoted as saying that thousands of Presbyterians, including chaplains and uniformed personnel, will be used in the US response to the terrorist attacks against America earlier this month.

"They make sacrifices, so that others might live in comfort. I think it’s a very humanitarian calling that these young people answer," said Chadwick, who referred to chaplains as "Christ-like" patriots.

He said that some have already notified their sessions and congregations that they will be mobilized or are standing by for possible activation and that they are trying "to get their house in order."

"I’ve been getting lots of calls from ministers," Chadwick told the Presbyterian News Service.  "They’re anxious. … (They ask), ‘If I am called up, does my church continue to pay my pension? Do I get any salary from the church? Do I only get salary from the government?’"

The deployment came as relatives of detained Christians continue the struggle to save the lives of two Americans, four Germans and two Australians, who Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban regime accused of converting Muslims to Christianity.

In addition at least 16 Afghans were arrested last month on similar charges, which can carry the death penalty under the regime’s strict interpretation of Islamic law.

The workers, who have denied the accusations, are staff members of the Christian relief agency Shelter Now, which has provided humanitarian to tens of thousands of refugees in the war-ravaged country.

Relatives fear that any military action will undermine the ongoing trial against the aid workers, although Taliban officials have said they are safe. The father of an American aid worker has reportedly offered to go to jail in Afghanistan in place of his daughter, but there were no indications that the authorities would accept his offer.

Pakistan has urged neighboring Afghanistan to avoid a war by handing over Osama bin Laden, the Saudi exile suspected of supporting the worlds worst ever terror attacks on American soil, in which at least 6,000 people are believed to have died.


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