Selected Article Excerpts:
When the so-called “Jesus rifle” came to light in Jan. 2010, it sparked constitutional and security concerns, and a maelstrom of media coverage. The Pentagon ordered the removal of the secret code referring to Bible passages that the manufacturer had inscribed on the scopes of the standard issue rifles carried by U.S. soldiers into battle in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Nearly three years later, however, the code remains on many rifles deploying to Afghanistan, which some soldiers argue is endangering their lives by reinforcing suspicions that the United States is waging a crusade against Muslims.
“I honestly believe that this is a dangerous situation. It literally could be a matter of life and death for a soldier if he fell into the wrong hands,” said an Army officer who spoke to NBC News from Fort Hood, Texas. “The fact that combatant commanders are not following (rules set by Department of Defense) commanders is very disturbing to me.”
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit group that aggressively pursues the separation of church and state in defense institutions, first flagged the issue in late 2009 after receiving scores of complaints from active duty military members.
“It’s constitutionally noxious,” said foundation president Mikey Weinstein. “It’s an embarrassment and makes us look exactly like the tenth incarnation of the crusades which launches 8 million new jihadist recruiting videos.”
Contacted by NBC News, scope-maker Trijicon directed calls to the head of sales and marketing Tom Munson, who relayed the message through his secretary that “he had no interest” in discussing the Jesus rifle.