The Pentagon said Monday it no longer includes a Bible quote on the cover page of daily intelligence briefings it sends to the White House as was 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. Air Force Maj. Gen. Glen Shaffer, who was responsible for including them, retired in August 2003, according to his biography.
For a period in 2003, at least, the daily reports prepared for President George W. Bush carried quotes from the books of Psalms and Ephesians and the Gospel of Peter. 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 CQ magazine. But they offended at least one Muslim analyst at the Pentagon and worried other employees that the passages were inappropriate.
On Thursday, April 10, 2003, for example, the report quoted the book of Psalms — "Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him. ... To deliver their soul from death." — and featured pictures of the statue of Saddam Hussein being pulled down and celebrating crowds in Baghdad.
"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 two weeks earlier, on March 31, above a picture of a U.S. 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, on Monday said U.S. soldiers "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. "It's contrary to the constitutional separation of religion and government, and it's tremendously damaging to America's reputation in the world."