Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Spiritually transformed guns of Jesus

Despite specific rules banning proselytizing in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, a manufacturer of gun sights for the military inscribes the sights with references to bible verses. Really. Bible verses, etched into the rifle sights. Promising that god is with them. On guns. I boggle.

That's just...well, it seems so ridiculously inappropriate that it's almost funny. Inscribing verses of the bible -- ostensibly to support and bolster the soldier and let them know that Jesus supports them -- on a weapon used to kill people is just wrong. Talk about reinforcing the idea of a god-driven crusade, eh?
Coded references to New Testament Bible passages about Jesus Christ are inscribed on high-powered rifle sights provided to the United States military by a Michigan company, an ABC News investigation has found.

The sights are used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers. The maker of the sights, 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.

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." [...]

Trijicon confirmed to ABCNews.com that it adds the biblical codes to the sights sold to the U.S. military.
Wow. The company -- which is very upfront about their Christian beliefs, has crossed a line, in my opinion. I'm not against this because of the idea that it could inflame religious animosity in a muslim country, I'm against this because it is a serious violation of church and state, with the military tacitly expressing a preference and strong support of a specific religious belief system. In an era when evangelical Christians have inappropriately used positions of power in the military to proselytize and actively attack non-christians, this is just another transgression, I guess. But it is a serious one.

I'm against this because it is a gross application of a religious idea used to support war. It implies that god supports and encourages "our side" of the war, by "blessing" the weapons. That's just..distasteful. It is pushing christianity and their particular version of god, quite literally at the point of a gun.

Would I be so upset if they were inscribing bible verses on body armor or helmets? Not really, I guess. It'd still find it inappropriate, but it wouldn't be actively offensive. It's the idea that anyone would invoke their god as a blessing on a weapon that is pretty weird to me. We should be long past the age of religious crusades -- but I forget, for many people, the war against terrorists is a religious crusade. They have used it to demonize muslims and "others" and are arrogantly and smugly sure that their god is on their side. That's a frightening thought, if you ask me.
Weinstein, an attorney and former Air Force officer, said many members of his group who currently serve in the military have complained about the markings on the sights. He also claims they've told him that commanders have referred to weapons with the sights as "spiritually transformed firearm[s] of Jesus Christ."
I sincerely hope that they lose their very, very lucrative military contract.

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