The lexicographer columnist for the New York Times
has recognized the Military Religious Freedom Foundation's description of the Trijicon gun sights, "Jesus Rifles," as a
notable addition to the modern lexicon

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Opinion Section
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"Jesus Rifles"

Rifles with sights that are inscribed
with Biblical references.

By Ben Schott

Monday, January 25, 2010

ABC News

At the end of this gun scope’s model number is a Biblical reference, “JN8:12,” for the Book of John, Chapter 8, Verse 12.

“Coded references to New Testament Bible passages about Jesus Christ are inscribed on high-powered rifle sights provided to the U.S. military by a Michigan company,” ABC News reported:

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.”

According to the report, such markings may break U.S. military rules that prohibit proselytizing by American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some also worry that the presence of Biblical inscriptions could prove inflammatory:

“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.

Trijicon, the company which manufactures the rifle sights, told ABC that it has been inscribing its products with Biblical references for a number of years. In a later report, ABC noted that Trijicon announced it would cease to add religious inscriptions on products for the U.S. military and would provide kits for removing existing inscriptions.

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Hold The Hallelujah: The Perils Of Rifles And Religion


Monday, January 25, 2010

Audio for this story from All Things Considered
will be available at approx. 7:00 p.m. ET, on January 25th.
Please click here for audio after that time.

Soldiers with Rifles
AFP/Getty Images

Marines of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines battle insurgents in the streets of the devastated city of Fallujah, Iraq in 2004. (Click image to enlarge)

Benjamin Busch was an infantry officer in the United States Marine Corps. He served two tours of duty in Iraq.

As a Marine invading Iraq in 2003, I thought we actively separated church and state from our motives.

I know that Scripture embedded in the obscure numbers on rifle scopes may seem like a small detail, and that manufacturer Trijicon likely intended no particular malice by placing biblical references on its equipment. Like, 2COR4:6 represents 2 Corinthians 4:6, "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." There seems to have been neither marketing nor secrecy associated with the presence of these inscriptions.

But these are not innocent times, and the codes are still messages printed and sent out. These notes have now been read and exposed, and we have the baggage of explaining ourselves to people convinced that many of our actions are motivated by religion instead of self-defense, justice or altruism.

As a Marine, I aimed at Iraq through rifle scopes, my vision amplified. When viewing other cultures, even enemies, I think we should be wary of seeing them through a lens marked by religion.

Quote from articleThe United States is fighting Islamic extremists. But we are not Christian extremists. When I returned for my second tour in 2005, we were in the embattled city of Ramadi, and we fought jihadists, tribal factions and criminals alongside almost entirely Muslim Iraqi soldiers. It was impossible to segregate the ambitions of singular religions then.

Although the rifle equipment was stamped as a private act by a private company, it was sold to governments, and therefore unavoidably and knowingly coupled with politics. Biblical quotes were thoughtfully chosen — thoughtful enough not to be allowed as innocent of larger context.

By branding weapons with Christian messages, there is a deep and ugly blending of religion, politics and bloodshed, and it has unwittingly painted our government and military with the embarrassing language of "crusade."

America is largely composed of people who consider themselves Christian, separated by various interpretations of the same book. But I did not go onward as a Christian soldier. I went forth as an American, a Marine. I was sent by my country to fight a threat, and thereafter with the best intentions of democracy, not theocracy.

Our efforts in the Middle East were complicated enough, and small symbols are examined carefully by our opponents. Based on my understanding of the teachings of Christ, he would be very disappointed to see his Gospel assigned to war of any kind in the first place.

I leave you with a verse that has not been stamped on our weapons: "But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you" — Matthew 5:44.


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