Objections to Marines' Bible-coded rifle sights
An atheist group is objecting to coded references to New Testament passages that a Michigan manufacturer is inscribing on rifle sights it provides to U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Trijicon has a $660 million contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the Marines, and other contracts with the Army. ABC News reported Monday that the manufacturer, founded by a Christian, had long marked its products with what ABC News called “secret ‘Jesus’ Bible codes:”
One of the citations on the gun sights, 2COR4:6, is an apparent reference to Second Corinthians 4:6 of the New Testament, which reads: "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
Other references include citations from the books of Revelation, Matthew and John dealing with Jesus as "the light of the world." John 8:12, referred to on the gun sights as JN8:12, reads, "Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
Trijicon confirmed to ABCNews.com that it adds the biblical codes to the sights sold to the U.S. military. Tom Munson, director of sales and marketing for Trijicon, which is based in Wixom, Michigan, said the inscriptions "have always been there" and said there was nothing wrong or illegal with adding them. Munson said the issue was being raised by a group that is "not Christian." The company has said the practice began under its founder, Glyn Bindon, a devout Christian from South Africa who was killed in a 2003 plane crash.
American Atheists President Ed Buckner warned that Islamic extremists could take advantage of what he called "a major blunder that seriously risks efforts to reach out to people in Muslim countries threatened by groups like the Taliban and al-Qaeda."
"Part of the U.S. message abroad should emphasize the core American value of secular government and respect for individual religious liberty – and instead the U.S. military is promoting Christianity, literally with the barrel of a gun. We call on President Barack Obama to repudiate this effort immediately."
Kathleen Johnson, Vice President and Military Director for American Atheists, said that the religious inscriptions "clearly violate the First Amendment and the U.S. Constitution, as well as armed forces regulations against promoting sectarian religion."
"We are not going to enjoy much success in trying to achieve 'nation building' and self-sufficiency for democratic governments in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan if our troops are seen as modern-day 'Crusaders' out to impose Christian fundamentalism," she said. "These rifle sights should be phased out of use as quickly as possible. The mission of the U.S. military cannot include proselytizing for Christianity or any other religion."
Army and Marine spokespersons told ABC News that their services were unaware of the markings. But Michael Weinstein, a former Air Force attorney now with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said that members of his group on active duty spoke of commanders who referred to weapons with the sights as “spiritually transformed firearms of Jesus Christ.”