Bible Texts Misused In Rumsfeld Reports, Religious Leaders Say

May 25, 2009

Author: Manya A. Brachear

Source: The Los Angeles Times,0,163380.story

One passage plucked from the New Testament's Epistle to the Ephesians instructs believers to "put on the full armor of God."

An excerpt from the Old Testament's Isaiah directs them to "open the gates that the righteous nation may enter."

As American troops fought in Iraq in 2003, these biblical verses and others reportedly prefaced intelligence reports approved by then-Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Disclosed last week on the website of GQ magazine, the hawkish use of scripture has prompted many faithful to ask whether Americans lost their lives in Iraq defending democracy or fighting a religious crusade.

Meanwhile, some Jewish and Christian leaders say that the biblical passages were misused -- just as moderate Muslims say Al Qaeda twisted the Koran to justify the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"What is at issue is the possibility that the highest levels of the executive branch took biblical texts out of their proper context to cast the mission of the U.S. military in explicitly religious terms," said Scott Alexander, director of the Catholic-Muslim Studies Program at Chicago's Catholic Theological Union.