The ABC News story was initiated by Mikey Weinstein and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, after being alerted to the practice by multiple sources including active-duty service members.
Tom Munson, director of sales and marketing for Trijicon, said the practice of including the references was started nearly 30 years previously by the company’s founder, devout Christian Glyn Bindon, who died in a 2003 plane crash. When hearing about this even some Christians objected, but little was done until recently to correct this condition.
On January 20, 2010 the BBC reported that the British Ministry of Defense, which had—when unaware of the issue—recently purchased 480 Trijicon sights for use in Afghanistan, but appreciated that the markings could cause offense, and had taken the matter up with the company. We don’t know what happened next but one can hope the company offered some assurances that this odious practice was stopped.
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.
A spokesman for U.S. Central Command, which manages military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, opined the inscribed sights do not violate the military’s self-imposed 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”.
Nearly three years later — despite the military’s assertion that is making “good progress” — 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.
The Department of Defense said it would modify the scopes, starting with those on bases, though in March said it might take as long as a year.
Not all observers thought removal of the unobtrusive lettering on the scopes was a matter of great urgency.
“I understand that we have already started to address this issue,” said retired Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis, in a debate with Weinstein on ABC News in March 2010. “You may argue it’s not fast enough,” but he said he saw “no evidence” that the code presented a security issue.
I submit that Mr. Maginnis is likely a Christian proselytizer, because taking such a position when the United States is involved heavily in the Middle East flies in the face of common sense.
Fast forward two and a half years, and “Jesus rifles” are still widely used in the United States and in areas of conflict, according to the Fort Hood officer, who was deployed to Iraq in 2010-2011. He says he has never seen a fixit kit.
Weinstein of MRFF said he has received more than 2,800 complaints from troops about the Jesus rifles — now even more widely known to Afghans and Iraqis, in part because of the controversy.
Iraqis “absolutely” know that it’s a Jesus rifle, said the Fort Hood officer, based on his experience.
“Do all the Afghans and Taliban know about this? Probably not. But the ones who do could ultimately affect the life of a soldier,” said the officer. “There’s absolutely no reason this couldn’t have been done in the first six weeks. And that just leads me to wonder why is the Army leadership not taking ownership of the responsibility of completing this task?”
So, it appears the Jesus Jumpers are having a negative influence on America’s combat efforts. It’s bad enough that the Crazy Christians rushed to invade Iraq with missionaries, but now they are jeopardizing the security of American troops by placing references to a book that for centuries has been responsible for the senseless slaughter of millions
Many thanks to NBC News and Wikipedia for their contributions to this article.