U.S. Rifle Scopes In Iraq And Afghanistan Feature Bible Verse Citations
Justin Elliott | January 18, 2010, 1:21PM
Here's one that will play well in the Muslim world.
ABC is reporting that soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have been using rifle scopes that bear abbreviated references to Bible verses, including lines like "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."
That verse is rendered on tiny letters on the the scopes, made by Wixom, Michigan-based Trijicon, as "2COR4:6" referring to chapter 4, verse 6 of the Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians.
While it's not clear exactly how many of the scopes are in use, there are Pentagon images on the Internet (for example here) with the Trijicon scopes being used in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chris Rodda, a researcher at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the group that is the source for ABC's story, tells TPMmuckraker that federal contracts suggest the military has bought scores of thousands of the scopes for Iraq and Afghanistan. The foundation advocates for religious freedom and separation of church and state in the military.
ABC reports that 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."
The company is not shy about its belief system. It confirmed to ABC that its scopes have the Biblical codes. Trijicon's Web site even says under a section titled "Values" that, "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."
Trijicon sight with reference to "JN8:12" or John, Chapter 8, Verse 12
Rodda also notes that the Biblical messages on the Trijicon scopes has been known for some time, pointing to Web gun forum threads on the topic posted as early as 2006.
This is hardly the first time the Pentagon has come under fire for using religious messages in the course of conducting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. GQ reported last May on Donald Rumsfeld's presidential briefing folders that were peppered with Biblical quotes ("Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him...To deliver their soul from death.") printed on images of war.
Trijicon, for its part, dismissed the charges as coming from a group that is "not Christian," according to ABC.
In an interview with TPMmuckraker, Military Religious Freedom Foundation president Mikey Weinstein called that "a garbage and mean-spirited and un-American reply," noting that most of his group's clients are Christian servicemembers.
Gun sights used in Iraq and Afghanistan have coded Bible references.
In August of 2005 Trijicon was awarded a $660 million dollar, multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 of its Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG) to the U.S. Marine Corps. According to Trijicon, the ACOG is "designed to function in bright light, low light or no light conditions," and is "ideal for combat due to its high degree of discrimination, even among multiple moving targets." At the end of the scope's model number, you can read "JN8:12", which is a reference to the New Testament book of John, Chapter 8, Verse 12, which reads: "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (King James Version) (ABC News)
Despite Extensive Online Discussions, Military Denies Knowledge Of Rifle Scope Bible Verses
Justin Elliott | January 18, 2010, 6:20PM
Responding to the revelation that rifle sights used by the military in Iraq and Afghanistan are inscribed with Bible citations, a Marine Corps spokesman told TPMmuckraker today that the branch simply didn't know about the inscriptions until inquiries were made last week.
But posts on gun enthusiast forums from as early as 2006 and Youtube videos watched thousands of times extensively discuss the Bible verses on the Trijicon rifle sights, casting doubt on the military's claim that it was unaware of what was apparently a poorly kept secret.
At issue here are citations of various New Testament verses (e.g. John 8:12 -- "When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'") that are inscribed in abbreviated form (JN8:12) on sights made by Trijicon, a major supplier for the Army and Marines. The inscriptions, which are visible with the naked eye, typically follow the serial number on Trijicon's scopes (see examples here).
Marines spokesman Carl Redding told TPMmuckraker that the Marine Corps -- which, according to ABC, has a $660 million contract with Trijicon -- only just found out about the inscriptions. "We're still investigating it to try to understand what we can and should do," he said, declining to comment further.
But the inscriptions were hardly a secret among many gun owners.
Check out this January 2006 thread on an online gaming forum by user "DesignatedMarksmen" titled, "Interesting-DoD contractor puts bible verses on it's products."
And then there's this thread on Militaryphotos.net from May 2006, that begins: "Just found this on ARFcom, Has anyone ever noticed the Bible verse on their ACOG [sight]?" That links to yet another (now dead) thread on site AR15.com. User "Kersh" responds: "Yeah I read about that recently, but I didn't know there were that many different verses on all the different optics."
Here is yet another discussion of the inscriptions from last February on the Web site of the Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association.
And, finally, in the below video posted last July, YouTube user "sootch00," who produces a series called "Fun Gun Reviews," discusses the Trijicon inscriptions at length. The clip has nearly 20,000 views.
"Now one of the really cool things that I like about this sight ... it does say in the little crevice here, Trijicon ACOG, then it says JN8:12. What that is is John 8:12," he says, reading the Bible verse. "I love it, I love it. Yes, Trijicon, those guys are Christians. On all of their different sights they have verses on there. So, just a little neat side note. For those of you who aren't Christians, well, you know, get over it."
In this video also posted last July, the same user points out the (go to about 3:35) a Corinthians citation on the scope, noting that it's in line with Trijicon's Christian values. The clip has over 9,000 views.
We'll be tracking the military's investigation on Trijicon's sights, so stay tuned.
Firearm Scope Maker's Bible Verses On Products Used By Military Ignite Controversy
January 19, 2010 7:10 a.m. EST
Kris Alingod - AHN Contributor
Washington, D.C., United States (AHN) - A Michigan-based company that manufactures scopes for firearms is under scrutiny because a report has found that it includes New Testament verses in its products, some of which are used by the U.S. military.
According to ABC, Trijicon has contracts with the Defense Department, including a $660 million multi-year contract to provide 800,000 optical sighting devices to the Marine Corps. The sights contain Bible verses that include JN8:12, which refers to John 8:12, "Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
The devices from the company are used by American troops in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as to train Afghan soldiers ahead of the scheduled troop drawdown in 2011. According to details of one $33 million contract approved last year by the Defense Department, Trijicon is supplying the Marine Corps. with a device, called M240B medium machine gun day optic, that helps a machine gunner recognize and identify a target.
The U.S. military prohibits proselytizing of any faith in Afghanistan or Iraq, according to ABC. The Army and the Marine Corps said in the report that they were unaware of the Bible codes.
The company told ABC that the New Testament codes are included in the scopes being sold to the U.S. military, and that concerns about the verses were being raised by a group that is not Christian.
Trijicon's website says its vision is, "Guided by our values, we endeavor to have our products used wherever precision aiming solutions are required to protect individual freedom." It adds, "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."
The issue has ignited debate, with a commenter named Michael Martin on the online Christian news magazine, Worldmag.com, saying, "There is no separation of church and state issue here. The company can put whatever they want to on their product. The government is free to buy, or not buy the product as is."
ABC sets sights on military’s “Secret ‘Jesus’ Bible codes”
Written by Mickey McLean January 18, 4:43 PM
Who said investigative reporting was dead? ABC News has dug down deep to discover that a Michigan company that supplies high-powered rifle sights to the U.S. military tacks on abbreviated Bible-verse references to the tiny model numbers engraved on the base of its sights. (ABC alarmingly calls them “Secret ‘Jesus’ Bible Codes.”)
“This is probably the best example of violation of the separation of church and state in this country,” said Michael “Mikey” Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. “It’s literally pushing fundamentalist Christianity at the point of a gun against the people that we’re fighting. We’re emboldening an enemy.”
The maker of the sights, Trijicon, confirmed to ABCNews.com that it adds the verse references (such as “JN8:12″) to its sights. Tom Munson, director of sales and marketing, told ABC that the inscriptions “have always been there” and that there was nothing wrong or illegal in doing so. He added that the company’s founder, South African Glyn Bindon, who was killed in a 2003 plane crash, originally came up with the idea.
The company makes no secret of its Christian leanings. Its website states: “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.”
Rifles used by U.S. troops include Bible verse inscriptions
WASHINGTON (AP) — Combat rifle sights used by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan carry references to Bible verses, stoking concerns about whether the inscriptions break a government rule that bars proselytizing by American troops.
Military officials said the citations don't violate the ban and they won't stop using the telescoping sights, which allow troops to pinpoint the enemy day or night.
The contractor that makes the equipment, Trijicon, said the U.S. military has been a customer since 1995 and the company has never received any complaints about the Scripture citations.
"We don't publicize this," Tom Munson, Trijicon's director of sales and marketing, said in an interview. "It's not something we make a big deal out of. But when asked, we say, 'Yes, it's there."'
The inscriptions are subtle and appear in raised lettering at the end of the stock number. Trijicon's rifle sights use tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, to create light and help shooters hit what they're aiming for.
Markings on the Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight, which is standard issue to U.S. special operations forces, include "JN8:12," a reference to John 8:12: "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, 'I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life,"' according to the King James version of the Bible.
The Trijicon Reflex sight is stamped with 2COR4:6, a reference to part of the second letter of Paul to the Corinthians: "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," the King James version reads.
Photos posted on a Defense Department website show Iraqi forces training with rifles equipped with the inscribed sights.
The Defense Department is a major customer of Trijicon's. In 2009 alone, the Marine Corps signed deals worth $66 million for the company's products. Trijicon's scopes and optical devices for guns range in cost from a few hundred dollars to $13,000, according to the company's website.
Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, says the biblically inscribed sights could give the Taliban and other enemy forces a propaganda tool: that American troops are Christian crusaders invading Muslim countries.
"I don't have to wonder for a nanosecond how the American public would react if citations from the Koran were being inscribed onto these U.S. armed forces gun sights instead of New Testament citations," Weinstein said. The foundation is a nonprofit watchdog group opposed to religious favoritism within the military.
Weinstein said he has received complaints about the Scripture citations from active-duty and retired members of the military. He said he couldn't identify them because they fear retaliation.
A spokesman for U.S. Central Command, which manages military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, said the inscribed sights do not violate the ban on proselytizing because there is no effort to distribute the equipment beyond the U.S. troops who use them.
"This situation is not unlike the situation with U.S. currency," said the spokesman, Air Force Maj. John Redfield. "Are we going to stop using money because the bills have 'In God We Trust' on them? As long as the sights meet the combat needs of troops, they'll continue to be used."
Capt. Geraldine Carey, a Marine Corps spokeswoman, said Tuesday in an e-mailed statement that "we are aware of the issue and are concerned with how this may be perceived." Carey said Marine Corps acquisition officials plan to meet with Trijicon to discuss future purchases of the company's sights. The statement did not say what the nature of those discussions would be.
Gary Tallman, an Army spokesman, said the service was not aware of the nature of these markings and its acquisition experts are investigating to determine if Trijicon violated any procurement rules.
Munson, Trijicon's sales director, said the practice of putting Bible references on the sites began nearly 30 years ago by Trijicon's founder, Glyn Bindon, who was killed in a plane crash in 2003. His son Stephen, Trijicon's president, has continued the practice.