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Still, the scourge of public censure must sting the pride of a man who cultivated a stainless public persona. "He'd always preached to his proteges that character was what you did when no one was watching," writes Vernon Loeb of The Washington Post.

Petraeus also preached about the significance of spirituality, according to Army Chaplain Col. Brent Causey, who spent 13 months with the general in Afghanistan. At least four in 10 service-members stationed there attended chapel, Causey said.

"It was a reflection of Gen. Petraeus and his leadership in placing importance on spirituality," Causey told Baptist Press last year. "Gen. Petraeus focused on everyone's spirituality, not just Christianity."

Asked on Tuesday about Petraeus' own faith, Causey, who now serves with the Army Corp of Engineers in Washington, said, "Sorry, I'm not allowed to talk about that," and quickly hung up.

Breasseale, who worked with Petraeus, said he never heard the general express particular religious or political preferences.

Petraeus has never been beloved by anti-war liberals, though, especially those who see evangelical Christianity creeping over the military's church-state wall.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation chided the general for endorsing Under Orders: A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel, a book by former military chaplain William McCoy that the foundation says promotes Christianity and denigrates non-religious soldiers.

If Petraeus still harbors political aspirations, now might a good time for him to get religion and read that book. "If he licks his wounds and is seen praying humbly at his local church and does the right thing by his wife and family, America will probably forgive him," wrote Jon Lee Anderson of The New Yorker.

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