Pentagon: No more Bible quotes in briefings

Associated Press / May 19, 2009
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WASHINGTON - The Pentagon said yesterday it no longer includes a Bible quote on the cover page of daily intelligence briefings it sends to the White House, as was the practice during the Bush administration.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said he did not know how long the Worldwide Intelligence Update cover sheets quoted from the Bible.

For a period in 2003, at least, the daily reports prepared for then-President George W. Bush carried quotes from the books of Psalms and Ephesians.

At the time, the reports focused largely on the war in Iraq.

The Bible quotes apparently aimed to support Bush at a time when soldiers' deaths in Iraq were on the rise, according to the June issue of GQ magazine.

But they offended at least one Muslim analyst at the Pentagon and worried other employees that the passages were inappropriate.

"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand," read the cover quote on March 31, 2003, above a picture of a US tank driving through the desert, according to the magazine, which obtained copies of the documents.

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said US troops "are not Christian crusaders, and they ought not be depicted as such."

"Depicting the Iraq conflict as some sort of holy war is completely outrageous," Lynn said in a statement yesterday. "It's contrary to the constitutional separation of religion and government, and it's tremendously damaging to America's reputation in the world."

Air Force Major General Glen Shaffer, who was responsible for including the verses, retired in August 2003, according to his biography.