Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should fire a top-ranking Pentagon official who has repeatedly told evangelical Christian audiences that the U.S. struggle against terrorism is a religious conflict against Satan, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Gen. William G. Boykin, who recently was named deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, said the United States is being attacked because we are a Christian nation, insisted that Muslims worship idols and said the real enemy of America is not Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein but Satan.
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, said, "Boykin literally believes that the United States government is engaged in a holy war. That's totally unacceptable for someone in a top government post.
"A man who sees the conduct of U.S. foreign policy as some sort of Christian religious crusade should not be making policy. I urge Secretary Rumsfeld to remove Lt. Gen. Boykin from his post and distance the Bush administration from Boykin's extreme views."
According to NBC News and other sources, Boykin has repeatedly appeared before evangelical Christian groups, often in uniform, and characterized the U.S. war with terrorism in stark religious terms.
In a June appearance in Oregon, Boykin reportedly said that Islamic extremists hate the U.S. "because we're a Christian nation, because our foundations and our roots are Judeo-Christian." Boykin said the real enemy is not Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden. "The enemy," he said, "is a guy called Satan."
In a January speech in Daytona, Fla., Boykin recalled his efforts to capture an Islamic militant in Somalia who had said he would be protected by Allah.
Said Boykin, "Well, you know what I knew, that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God, and his was an idol."
After the militant was captured, Boykin told him, "Mr. Atto, you underestimated our God."
This is not Boykin's only venture into inappropriate religious activity.
Earlier this year, Americans United protested strongly when Boykin tried to bring a Baptist pastors' evangelism group to Ft. Bragg for special training and overnight accommodations. After the AU protest, military officials scaled back the visit to the same level given other civilian groups.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.