Talk about painting a target on our men and women! Talk about more or less making the Taliban and Al Qaeda’s next recruiting video!
I'm talking about a news story on the ABC News website -- "U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret 'Jesus' Bible Codes" – (Jan 19, 2009) Coded references to New Testament Bible passages about Jesus Christ are inscribed on high-powered rifle sights provided to the United States military by a Michigan company, an ABC News investigation has found.
The sights are used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers. The maker of the sights, Trijicon, has a $660 million multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the Marine Corps, and additional contracts to provide sights to the U.S. Army.
U.S. military rules specifically prohibit the proselytizing of any religion in Iraq or Afghanistan and were drawn up in order to prevent criticism that the U.S. was embarked on a religious "Crusade" in its war against al Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents.
One of the citations on the gun sights 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's vision is described on its Web site: "Guided by our values, we endeavor to have our products used wherever precision aiming solutions are required to protect individual freedom."
"We believe that America is great when its people are good," says the Web site. "This goodness has been based on Biblical standards throughout our history, and we will strive to follow those morals."
Spokespeople for the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps both said their services were unaware of the biblical markings...
"It's wrong, it violates the Constitution, it violates a number of federal laws," said Michael "Mikey" Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group that seeks to preserve the separation of church and state in the military. "It allows the Mujahedeen, the Taliban, al Qaeda and the insurrectionists and jihadists to claim they're being shot by Jesus rifles," he said.
The makers of this gun sight and the military officers who have known about this, are unpatriotic in their criminal negligence. I come to this story as, 1) the father of a Marine and, 2), as a former religious right fundamentalist who, before I left the movement in the mid 1980s was part of the evangelical subculture that specializes in just this sort of religious crusade (as I describe in my new book Patience With God--Faith For People who don't Like Religion (Or Atheism).
What is so terrible about this breach of our Constitution is that it shows just how deeply embedded the evangelical subculture is in our military. From fundamentalist chaplains, to zealous proselytizing generals our military is rife with our own version of the extremists we’re fighting. To fundamentalist "Christians" in love with the apocalypse we really are fighting a "Bring it on!" Bush-type Crusade.
It’s time for the government to step in a and stop this nonsense once and for all. Officers who knew should be court marshaled. The company in question should lose its contract and never be hired again for any military project.
And the evangelical idiots who look at our military as a mission field wherein to convert soldiers on the one hand and through whom to project worldwide missionary efforts on the other, have got to be told once and for all: Hands off our military!
We’re fighting people who recruit based on their belief they are fighting a “holy war” and -- as Mikey Weinstein properly noted -- this plays into their hands. The makers of this weapon sight might as well have painted targets on the backs of every man and woman serving. They are traitors to our military and our country.