A senior White House official has denied that the US president, George Bush, said God ordered him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq.
A spokesman for Mr Bush, Scott McClellan, said the claims, to be broadcast in a TV documentary later this month, were “absurd”.
In the BBC film, a former Palestinian foreign minister, Nabil Shaath, says that Mr Bush told a Palestinian delegation in 2003 that God spoke to him and said: “George, go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan” and also “George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq”.
During a White House press briefing, Mr McClellan said: “No, that’s absurd. He’s never made such comments.”
Mr McClellan admitted he was not at the Israeli-Palestinian summit at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in June 2003 when Mr Bush supposedly revealed the extent of his religious fervour.
However, he said he had checked into the claims and “I stand by what I just said”.
Asked if Mr Bush had ever mentioned that God had ordered him into Afghanistan and Iraq, Mr McClellan said: “No, and I’ve been in many meetings with him and never heard such a thing.”
The claims are due to be broadcast in a three-part BBC documentary which analyses attempts to bring peace to the Middle East.
Mr Shaath, the Palestinian foreign minister in 2003, claims Mr Bush told him and other delegates that he was spoken to by God over his plans for war.
He told the film-makers: “President Bush said to all of us: ‘I’m driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan. And I did, and then God would tell me, George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq… And I did.
“‘And now, again, I feel God’s words coming to me, Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East. And by God I’m gonna do it.'”
The Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, who attended the June 2003 meeting as well, also appears on the documentary series to recount how Mr Bush told him: “I have a moral and religious obligation. So I will get you a Palestinian state.”
Mr Bush, who became a born-again Christian at 40, is one of the most overtly religious leaders to occupy the White House, a fact that brings him much support in middle America.
“History is littered with examples of people doing the most bizarre and sometimes wicked things on this basis,” said Andrew Blackstock, director of the British-based Christian Socialist Movement. “If Bush really wants to obey God during his time as president he should start with what is blindingly obvious from the Bible rather than perceived supernatural messages.
“That would lead him to the rather less glamorous business of prioritising the needs of the poor, the downtrodden and the marginalised in his own country and abroad.
“When we see more policies reflecting that, it might be easier to believe he has God on his side. And more likely that God might speak to him.”
The TV series, which starts on Monday, charts recent attempts to bring peace to the Middle East, from the former US president Bill Clinton’s peace talks in 1999-2000, to Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip this year. It seeks to uncover what happened behind closed doors by speaking to presidents and prime ministers, along with their generals and ministers, the BBC said.
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