Lieutenant General Jerry Boykin, deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence, ignited an international firestorm. Addressing a religious group in June 2003, Boykin said radical Muslims hate us "because we're a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian . . . and the enemy is a guy called Satan."
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Lieberman asked President Bush to denounce Boykin's "hateful remarks," adding, "The war on terrorism is a war on terrorists, not religions. The Bush administration, which claims to understand that, needs to condemn anyone who says otherwise." Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., said, "It is outrageous that someone who holds such extreme, close-minded, zealous views would be allowed such a prominent position in our military." An editorial in Investor's Business Daily notes that "A (Los Angeles) Times reporter called Boykin's comments 'extreme and pernicious.' NBC's Tom Brokaw termed them 'divisive.' ABC and CBS referred to him as a 'holy warrior.'"
But what exactly did Gen. Boykin say that smacked of religious bigotry and intolerance? Boykin called America a "Christian nation." So did President Harry S. Truman, who once said, "This is a Christian nation." John Jay, the first chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, said, "Providence has given to our people the choice of their ruler, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers." Patrick Henry said, "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Of Boykin's suggestion that terrorists hate us because of our non-Muslim religiosity, please refer to the new book by Robert Spencer, "Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West." Spencer, using Islamic sources, past and contemporary, makes the case that the call for jihad against Christians, the West and Jews springs from the dictates of the religion of Islam.
The Koran, writes Spencer, says, "Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free . . . (Sura 9:5)."