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.”
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.
ABC has a slideshow of Trijicon rifle pictures here.
Late Update: Our latest post on this: Despite Extensive Online Discussions, Military Denies Knowledge Of Rifle Scope Bible Verses.