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Former Bergdahl Pastor Calls for Mercy for 'Prodigal Son' Bowe
U.S. Army Handout / AP

Since his release on Saturday, white-hot controversy has dogged US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was exchanged for five senior Taliban leaders. The Taliban held him captive for the past five years. Bergdahl is being branded as a deserter for abandoning his unit in eastern Afghanistan.

On Sunday at a White House press conference, President Obama with Bergdahl's parents Robert and Jani at his side announced Bowe's release. Earlier this week, Phil Proctor, pastor of Sterling Presbyterian Church, an Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Sterling, Virginia, began distributing an email in response to questions he was receiving about the Bergdahls since he served as their pastor and has remained close to the family. In the five years since Bergdahl's capture, there has been a nationwide campaign for his release with many posters describing Sgt. Bergdahl as a POW.

Proctor said he wrote the email to counter false reports about the Bergdahl family, including that the father had become a Muslim. Right now, Bergdahl is being treated in a military hospital in Germany and the date of his return to the US is unclear. Washington-based journalist Sheryl Blunt spoke with Proctor earlier this week. The interview has been edited for clarity.

After serving as an interim pastor at the Bergdahls' church in Boise, you served as a missionary in Uganda and kept in touch with them. How close were you to the family?

We stayed in touch with different people in the congregation. When we would come back on furlough, we would get together with people and the Bergdahls were among those we would get together with regularly. In 2011, I took the congregation here in Sterling.

Providentially, Bob and Jani were traveling in and out of the ...

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Former Bergdahl Pastor Calls for Mercy for 'Prodigal Son' Bowe
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