May 28, 2009
The Pentagon and the ‘armor of God’
I learned in Sunday School, as all Christian children do, that the way we are to survive the great spiritual war of daily life is to “put on the full armor of God.” Paul gives this instruction in his letter to Ephesus. The armor, he writes, includes the “belt of truth,” “breastplate of righteousness,” “the shield of faith” and “the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
This is about as militant a passage as the song we used to sing “Onward Christian Soldiers.” We’re not actually marching off to war, and if we were the battle would require different tools. The shield of faith only goes so far in hand-to-hand combat.
But this passage, along with a few other choice verses from the Bible’s New Testament, found there way onto Pentagon cover sheets around the time the United States led an invasion on Iraq. The cover sheets’ existence were recently revealed in a GQ profile of former Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld, titled “And He Shall Be Judged.”
Obviously, these passages were stripped of context and re-appropriated for political purposes. But just how bad was it? Well, Manya Brachear relates a sobering comparison:
She goes on in her article, a follow-up on the GQ story for the Chicago Tribune and LA Times, to quote a few of those religious leaders and to question “Whether Rumsfeld acted out of authentic religious motivation or, as some critics have suggested, to sell a war to an evangelical president.”