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'God and country' recruit poster axed from Army office

January 16, 2015 (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Military Religious Freedom Foundation)

A poster with the phrase "On a mission for both God and country" on display outside a Phoenix recruiting station was removed Friday morning, an Army Recruiting Command spokesman said, hours after the unapproved display was brought to the command's attention.

The poster, which features a Special Forces patch along with Ranger, Airborne and Special Forces tabs, includes "a stock image" the command makes available for local recruiters, spokesman Brian Lepley said in an email, "but the text was changed by the local recruiting personnel" and not cleared by command headquarters.

"Had the process been followed, the copy shown would not have been approved," Lepley said.

The command first became aware of the poster Friday morning when it received questions about the display from Army Times. It was unclear when the display went up, but images of the sandwich board outside a recruiting office appear online in places like Reddit and Flickr with dates as far back as October.

It received more online attention on Thursday, when an image of the display was the center of a news release and a post on the Daily Kos website from Mikey Weinstein, president and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. In the post, which had nearly 400 comments as of Friday afternoon, Weinstein called the display a "stunning, unconstitutional disgrace" and labeled it the "Poster of Shame."

He said a number of his group's clients brought the item to his attention. The MRFF claimed in January to represent more than 40,000 service-connected individuals.

Local recruiting offices order such display materials online, Lepley said, and the orders are filled by Accessions Support Brigade. An ASB catalog shows a similar image available as a sandwich board, with the tagline, "We don't call for reinforcements. We make them."

There are instructions in the catalog on how to tailor some materials to suit a local audience, but the wording on the Phoenix poster isn't listed as one of 47 taglines that cover a variety of products.

Army Recruiting Command is investigating who ordered and/or approved the display, Lepley said.

"The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is delighted that the Constitution has been adhered to by the U.S. Army Recruiting Command," Weinstein said after the poster was removed. "But whoever, in any way, shape or form, allowed that poster to be designed, prepared and displayed, those individuals should be aggressively investigated and very visibly punished."

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