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January 19, 2010

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 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.”

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 10:56 AM | | Comments (28)


However well intentioned this guy (and his soon to appear apologists) may be... this is wrong on so many levels. The equipment should immediately be recalled and everyone involved should be reprimanded.

I don't object to it, necessarily, but I just wonder about what it means to recite christian verse as you're sighting a, and pulling the trigger to end their life. Is this supposed to make it feel better, easier, justified? Seems sick to me, but that goes with the territory.

Dear MrRational, I assume based on your comments that you refuse to use U.S. currency. To not do so would be wrong on so many levels.

YAWN... It's a commercial off the shelf product. Everyone concerned about this needs to get a life and move on or successfully compete for the contract with their "new and improved" secular rifle scope.

I'm conflicted. As an atheist, I hate to see religion used as a weapon, but as a patriot I want our boys to use what they need to get through the day.

Will the verse magically stop PTSD from settling in after sniping a few towelheads? I doubt it.

Jesus loves a good war. He did say sell your cloak and buy a sword...

I'm a Christian, but I agree with MrRational on this one. Mr. Buckner also raises a very good point as well in regards to Islamic Extremists taking advantage of this

@ RationalMy Arse:

Yes having "In God We Trust" on our money is wrong on so many levels. As is invoking "God" in our national Loyalty Oath. As is invoking the "Diety" when we convene our legislatures.

But just because something is "wrong" (and clearly contrary to the Consitution) doesn't keep it from happening every day. Many of us have just been inured to having popular will trump the First Amendment. Gets tiresome having that argument. It does make you a little sad for the Founding Fathers though, who had the right idea so many years ago.

Reminds me of the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

"And the Lord spake, saying, 'First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then, shalt thou count to three. No more. No less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.'"

Seriously, I think that just the appearance that we are seeking to fight a religious war puts our troops in danger, and should therefore be stopped immediately. It's a good way to recruit insurgents.

Christ is always the best thing to keep in our sights. God also says, "thou shall not kill" though.

Clay - One doesn't need coded rifle sights to keep Christ in their sights. Somehow putting secret bible references on tools to be used to take life seems run contrary to the message of Christ.

Its not like these rifles inscribed with the words of Jesus are being used only to kill Muslims. I'm sure other cultures will also be targeted.

If I had one of those sights, I'd clean it off with a Dremel tool and deburring bit. If I had the time and money, I'd send a few thousand to any of our troops who wanted one.

Wake Up - Do you honestly think islamic extremists need a reason? They want to take over the world for islam - PERIOD. Either convert or die.

Who Would Jesus Shoot?

To Ravensfan. No kidding. Read what I said. Thanks.

Clay - All I was doing was making a general comment that keeping Christ in your sights doesn't require having coded Bible verses on rifle sights. It wasn't meant as anything more than that.

Its just a company making sights that the army happens to use. Apparently its a tradition in the company itself, and not intended to offend anyone at all. Why should they be forced to stop producing these just because some people choose to take offense while none was intended in the first place?

Yes think about this. People have Clearly committied violent acts to our great country, and killed innocent people as well as our children. "But wait a minute" Let me take off my scope before i can defend our great country and my fellow soldier,our children, our wifes, our brothers and sisters And the list goes on. So If You Love This Country, and your freedoms you recieve by the fallen soldiers,Quit your Bitchn. And stand up for what this country has given you, Take off your hat and say" ONE NATION UNDER GOD". "AMEN"

By the way if we bring the attention to things like this, dont you think it alone comprimizes the safety of our brave men and women serving all over the country.???I will be one of the first to say Thank you to all of our service men and women who are defending my freedoms and giving me the right to say" ONE NATION UNDER GOD" THANK YOU!!!

I believe you've made a mistake; the advocacy group who first brought this issue to light don't represent athiests, they represent military men who advocate for the separation of church and state, composed mostly of christians.

As an athiest I don't imagine these little citations would cause much offense (apart from the security risk they pose). They're easy to overlook. But I know a great many christians (most, I would hope) would find the citations offensive. (inscribed as they are on professional killing machines.)

More to the point, although the people at Trijico are clearly well-meaning, the inclusion of the citations places your troops in greater danger. while they might know a lot about tactical gunsights they obviously don't know much about diplomacy.

American Atheists you are all fcking retards you can barely make it out the serial # and ref afterwards and who knows what those verses mean unless your catholic you people make me sick always trying to worm yourself into the limelight. Why not sue the Muslims for yelling ALLAH before killing hundreds of people ???? May you die an agonizing death since you don't believe in a hell.

In this sight (commonly referred to, appropriately enough, as "crosshairs"), you shall conquer.

Sounds like typical Americanism to me. The Yanks are incapable of doing anything without bringing a uniform or their mythical religion into it. They remind me of people leaning very heavily on a crutch. Take away their crutch (religion) and they would all fall over.

Don't put sights on guns that sre sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, if they don't want them. Who is protesting, is it American Athiests or is it the Iraqi and Afghan soldiers who are, apparently, given the guns for their protection? If it is the soldiers, I would call this "Looking a gift horse in the mouth."

The founder of the corporation wanted to witness for Christ and he used his opportunity to do so. It is no different than witnessing by giving out witnessing tracts. Some people accept them, some dont. President Bush never objected and if he didnt know about the practice he probably wouldnt object if he had found out about it. I am sure our current president doesnt accept the practice, and from what I understand they are being taken off of U.S. rifles. Some accept the word of Christ, some dont.

There is a difference Clay. The people giving out the tracts don't do it secretly as was done here. More than likely President Bush never knew. The current objections are coming from an atheist group and now the military. The problem is that no one was given a choice here and that it violates the establishment clause of the constitution by promoting a religion.

If we are going to worry about everyone's objections to witnessing why witness to begin with? Thanks.

Funny definition of "witnessing," Clay. You would liken shooting someone with "witnessing"? While anonymous makes a good point, I'd say the larger point (besides the security/propaganda issue) is the import of where and how the inscriptions were placed.

No wonder I get nervous when y'all show up at my door....

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About Matthew Hay Brown
Matthew Hay Brown writes and blogs about faith and values in public and private life for The Baltimore Sun. A former Washington correspondent for the newspaper, he has long written about the intersection of religion and politics. He has reported from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, traveling most recently to Syria and Jordan to write about the Iraqi refugee crisis.

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