The situation regarding the role of religion in the U.S. military just got a whole lot stranger.
ABC News is reporting that a major manufacturer of rifle scopes has been engraving citations from the New Testament on the sights. The company, Trijicon, freely admits what it has done and defends its action.
"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,'" reported ABC.
The network added, "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, located in Wixmon, Mich., was founded by a South African man named Glyn Bindon, whom ABC describes as a "devout Christian." Tom Munson, the firm's director of sales and marketing, told ABC the Bible references "have always been there" and dismissed complaints about them raised by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), saying that group is "not Christian."
In fact, the MRFF, like Americans United, is a nonsectarian organization, consisting of people of many different religious backgrounds and none. Many of its clients are Christian. The group believes the military, like any branch of the government, should be neutral on questions of theology.
Engraving Bible verses on weapons is not neutrality. And it's an especially foolish thing to do when those weapons will be used in predominantly Muslim nations. As MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein pointed out, it evokes echoes of the Crusades, with Western "Christian" armies facing off against the military might of Islam.
"It's wrong, it violates the Constitution, it violates a number of federal laws," Weinstein said. "It allows the Mujahedeen, the Taliban, al Qaeda and the insurrectionists and jihadists to claim they're being shot by Jesus rifles."
Trijicon has been awarded a $660 million multi-year contract to provide rifle scopes to the U.S. military. The group's religious bias is clear on its Web site, which reads, "We believe that America is great when its people are good. This goodness has been based on biblical standards throughout our history and we will strive to follow those morals."
It appears the firm undertook these actions without the approval of military officials. That alone is reason enough to cancel the contract. What else might they be doing without the government's knowledge?
The company's dismissal of the complaints also shows gross insensitivity and arrogance. It's time for the military to find another supplier for rifle scopes.