Anglican Samizdat

May 19, 2009

Some of the few things that can still scandalise: Bible quotes

Filed under: Christianity,Politics — David Jenkins @ 10:16 pm
Tags: ,

It’s instructive to ponder the whips with which a navel-gazing super-power chooses to flagellate itself. In this particular case it is the printing of bible passages on Bush’s Iraq briefings:

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was sold as a fight for freedom against the tyranny of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction.

But for former U.S. defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his elite Pentagon strategists, it was Add an Imagemore like a religious crusade.

The daily briefings about the progress of the war that Mr Rumsfeld gave to President George W Bush were illustrated with victorious quotes from the Bible and gung-ho photographs of U.S. troops, it has emerged.

A photograph of Saddam Hussein included a quotation from the First Epistle of Peter: ‘It is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.’

The religious theme for briefings prepared for the president and his war cabinet was the brainchild of Major General Glen Shaffer, a committed Christian and director for intelligence serving Mr Rumsfeld and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In the days before the six-week invasion, Major General Shaffer’s staff had created humorous covers for the briefings to alleviate the stress of preparing for battle.

But as the body count rose, he decided to introduce biblical quotes.

However, many of his Pentagon colleagues were reportedly opposed to the idea, with at least one Muslim analyst said to be greatly offended.

A defence official warned that if the briefing covers were leaked, the damage to America’s standing in the Arab world ‘would be as bad as Abu Ghraib’ – the Baghdad prison where U.S. troops abused Iraqis.

Since Christopher Hitchens supported the Iraq war, one wonders what he will make of this. The curious thing is not the fact that it happened – something that is really only mildly surprising – but the fuss its discovery is creating.

The fear appears to be that, in spite of the fact that the US was at war and embroiled in all the horror and mess that accompanies war, the last thing it could afford to do was offend those who are being bombed – or liberated. Could America’s standing in the Arab world be any lower? After this, I suppose Obama will have refine his ingratiation technique and bow to the Saudi King – even lower.

Saddam’s gruesome little tyranny was secular not religious so billing the Iraq war as a crusade, bible verses or not, does not hold water; the mixing of politics and religion is often a recipe for disaster, but those who are most prone to do it – the religious left – will be the noisiest critics of this discovery.

I wonder if anyone would be surprised to find verses of the Koran on the plans that led up to 911?


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