Archives For Trijicon

Pagan News Updates

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  January 22, 2010 — 9 Comments

Here’s a round-up of updates concerning stories and issues covered previously by The Wild Hunt.

Martha Coakley and the Fells Acre Case: In a historic upset, Republican candidate Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate seat left vacant by Ted Kennedy’s death, defeating Democratic candidate Martha Coakley, who many initially saw as a sure thing. The media, and many politicians, are ruminating on how it all happened. While some are debating whether Brown’s win was a referendum on Obama’s presidency, others are saying that the reasons were very local. Columnist Carey Roberts claims that Coakley’s ties to the infamous Fells Acre ritual abuse case damaged her chances far more than the national political media are willing to credit.

“This legal travesty did not attract national attention until last Fall. At that point, Coakley held a nearly insurmountable 30-point lead over her Republican challenger. Then Ann Coulter devoted her December 9 column to the case, calling it the “second-most notorious witch trial in Massachusetts history” and charging Coakley had “kept a clearly innocent man in prison in order to advance her political career.” A month later, Dorothy Rabinowitz delivered the coup de grace. Recounting in the Wall Street Journal how prosecutors cast Gerald as the chief predator, “his gender qualifying him, in their view, as the best choice for the role,” Rabinowitz adjudged the superfluous prosecution was “powerful testimony to the mind and capacities of this aspirant to a Senate seat.” The Rabinowitz editorial was published on January 14. The same day a Suffolk University poll spotted Brown a 4-point lead over Martha Coakley. And when the ballots were tallied nearly a week later, Scott Brown had defeated Coakley by a resounding five-point margin.”

The Fells Acre case was also mentioned in electoral postmortems at The Huffington Post (who called her “doomed from the start”) and The New American. As for Coakley, what are her plans? Why, she’s going to run for reelection as Attorney General. Which makes me wonder, will outrage over the Amiraults carry over to the Fall elections? Or will we be content to forget? For all of my past coverage of Martha Coakley, click here.

Those Christian Gun Sights: Since the story broke earlier this week, controversy and commentary has been raging over a military contractor, Trijicon, that had been inserting Bible references into its serial numbers. These sights had apparently been used by some military commanders to hammer home the uniquely magical Christian-ness of the weapons, and their effectiveness in killing non-Christians. Now the company says it will stop inserting the Biblical references, and will provide means for existing sights to modified.

“Trijicon has proudly served the U.S. military for more than two decades, and our decision to offer to voluntarily remove these references is both prudent and appropriate,” said Stephen Bindon, Trijicon president and CEO in a statement. “We want to thank the Department of Defense for the opportunity to work with them and will move as quickly as possible to provide the modification kits for deployment overseas.”

While some in the military defended the Bible references, or didn’t see what the fuss was about, others, most notably General David Petraeus, called the sights “distrubing” and a “serious concern”.

Jessica Orsini Sets Her Sights on Another Term: The Columbia Daily Tribune notes that Jessica Orsini, Alderwoman, 3rd Ward, City of Centralia, Missouri, will be running unopposed for another term.

“Filing for the April 6 school board and municipal election ballots in Boone County ended at 5 p.m. yesterday … Centralia Board of Aldermen: Third Ward Alderwoman Jessica Orsini and First Ward Alderwoman Catherine Simmons are unopposed for re-election.”

Orsini, in addition to being one of only two openly transgendered elected officials, is also a Hellenic polytheistic reconstructionist. So it looks like we’ll continue to have two openly Pagan elected officials in America for a while longer. For more on Orsini, check out Tony Mierzwicki’s interview with her at Witchvox.

More Stupid Things Being Said About Vodou: Mark Krikorian, at National Review Online, joined the growing “it’s all Voodoo’s fault” chorus yesterday with this rousing endorsement of colonialism.

“My guess is that Haiti’s so screwed up because it wasn’t colonized long enough … A major indicator of how superficial is the overlay of French culture in Haiti is the strength of paganism, in the form of voodoo — the French just weren’t around long enough to suppress it, to the detriment of Haitians.”

Yes, if only they had been under the heel of the French for a bit longer, because we all know how well colonialism worked out for the Native Americans. Do these commentators actually read what they write before it gets posted? I wonder. For all my coverage of Vodou in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, click here.

Top Story: While the final fate of New Age guru James Arthur Ray, who led a “sweat lodge” ceremony that ended up killing three people, remains an open question, others are working to put Ray, and others like him, out of business. Arizona state Sen. Albert Hale, a former president of the Navajo Nation, is sponsoring a bill that would allow the state to regulate any for-pay activity that claims to be a “traditional and authentic Native American practice.”

“A measure proposed by state Sen. Albert Hale, D-Window Rock, would require the Arizona Department of Health Services to regulate individuals or businesses that charge people to take part in what are claimed to be “traditional and authentic Native American practices.” Violators would be subject to yet-to-be-determined civil penalties. Hale said the measure is a direct outgrowth of the incident last October in Sedona, when three people died after participating in what was billed by its promoter as a traditional sweat lodge ceremony. Participants paid up to $10,000 for the overall “healing” retreat. The senator said SB 1164, if it becomes law, would preclude that from happening. He called the event “a perversion of our traditional ways.” But Hale said the proposal would go further, regulating what anyone could call a “Native American” practice, at least for pay.”

The proposed bill has the support of current Navajo Nation President, Joe Shirley, Jr., and if passed, would not apply to practices held on tribal lands. The “nuances” concerning free events that purport to be Native practices, or Native-like activities that don’t claim to be Native have yet to be worked out. Hale pointed out that this bill targets more how an event is advertised than how it is actually practiced. There hasn’t been too much commentary on the proposed bill yet, but the Don’t Pay to Pray blog seems all for it.

“Twelve precious human beings have lost their lives in pay-to-pray sweat lodges conducted by or influenced by ambitions non-Natives who were all later shown to have absolutely no knowledge or understanding of indigenous spiritual protocol and philosophies. There have been many other close calls that were not reported in the manin stream media. In my opinion this legislation is overdue. It’s telling to me that it took a Native American member of the legislature to come up with a bill that penalizes non-Natives from profiting from the exploitation of indigenous spiritual beliefs and practices, while taking steps to ensure that indigenous people are still allowed their rights to freedom of religion. I have always been an advocate of culture-jamming and taking the “cool” out of the exploitation of our spiritual ways, but perhaps the solution really lies in taking the profit motive out of this exploitation as well.”

How this would ultimately affect other faiths that have been known to dabble with Native practices, like some modern Pagan groups, remains to be seen. I suspect that, if the bill becomes a law, it wouldn’t change too much. Usually Pagans shy away from charging for such things, and if they don’t, often re-label the practices to suit their (usually) Euro-centric world-view. As for James Arthur Ray, his lawyers insist he isn’t liable for those sweat-lodge deaths, even as more incriminating details leak out. When, or if, he is brought to court, or is brought up on charges, remains to be seen.

In Other News:

In Defense of Vodou: While Haiti continues to struggle, and is rocked by major aftershock, more commentators are stepping forward to defend Haitian culture and religion in the face of charges that it causes/worsens the hardships they face. Dianne M. Diakité, associate professor of Religion and African American Studies at Emory University, argues that critics are buying into the “myth of Voodoo” instead of the reality. That Vodou practitioners, far from being complacent, were actually first responders in the aftermath of the quake.

“This line of discussion, however, concedes to the fear that behind the portrait of meandering earthquake survivors peacefully singing Christian hymns in the streets of Port-au-Prince is a barbaric “voodoo” ceremony waiting to unfold. It is for this reason that accessible Vodou priests and priestesses who were first responders, providing medical care to wounded victims pouring into their temples in the immediate aftermath of the quake, remain unaccounted for in the US American media’s roll call of international heroes and heroines now at work in Haiti.”

So while fools continue to equate Satanism with Vodou, turn the tragedy into a morality play, or blame Vodou for Haiti’s poverty, the heroic Vodou priests and priestesses of Haiti remain largely unsung.

More on Christian Gun Sights: As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on Bible-verse encoded gun-sights being used by the military, many wondered what the big deal was, so long as the machinery functioned properly. Dispatches from the Culture Wars shares a letter received by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation that highlights what non-Christian soldiers are subjected to as a result of these “special” sights.

“A very senior NCO was yelling at us which is not that unusual. He asked a private what it was that he (the private) was holding in his hand and the private said it was his “weapon” several times to which the senior NCO replied “and what ELSE is it”? FInally, the senior NCO said that the private’s rifle was also something else; that because of the biblical quote on the ACOG gunsight it had been “spiritually transformed into the Fire Arm of Jesus Christ” and that we would be expected to kill every “haji” we could find with it. He said that if we were to run out of ammo, then the rifle would become the “spiritually transformed club of Jesus Christ” and that we should “bust open the head of every haji we find with it.” He said that Uncle Sam had seen fit not to give us a “pussy ‘Jewzzi’ (combination of the word ‘Jew’ and Israeli made weapon ‘Uzi’) but the “fire arm of Jesus Christ” and made specific mention of the biblical quotes on our gun sights. He said that the enemy no doubt had quotes from the Koran on their guns but that “our Lord is bigger than theirs because theirs is a fraud and an idol” … Finally, this senior NCO ended his yelling by warning us that if we did not “get right with Jesus” then our rifles would not provide spiritual strength despite the bible quotes on our ACOG gunsights and that we would be considered “spiritual cripples” to our fellow units and soldiers. He didn’t say it in so many words, but the message was clear; if anything bad happened in a combat situation, it would be the fault of anyone who had not accepted Jesus Chris in the “right way”.”

These sights, these Jesus-guns, aren’t just being used against the enemy, they are being used as a club against non-Christian soldiers. They are being told, specifically, that the “magic” in them won’t protect the unbeliever (that it may even hinder them), that they are engaged in a holy war. A holy war that will only allow two faiths fighting for dominance.

Anglicans vs. Episcopagans: The conservative Anglican site VirtueOnline worries over the infiltration of Pagan religion into the US Episcopal Church, this time focusing on a “croning” ritual that appeared in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington’s newsletter.

“Entitled “Crone Power”, the meditation innocuously sat opposite a story about choosing a children’s Bible and next to a column on St. Jerome. The newsletter quickly drew the attention of Anglican bloggers, many of whom found the placement of what appeared to be a Wiccan ritual to be jarring in an official church publication. But intentionally or not, the publication and placement of the rite were reflective of a new reality: one in which practices drawn from or inspired by pagan belief, including witchcraft, are increasingly finding acceptance within the ranks of the Episcopal Church.”

I have little interest in the self-appointed heretic hunters of the Anglican communion, but what did catch my eye is that they heavily quote Catherine “Wicca’s Charm” Sanders as an “expert” on modern Paganism. Sanders, a Christian who used to write anti-Pagan tracts for Focus on the Family, is no expert on modern Paganism. Her book, “Wicca’s Charm”, is a deeply flawed work that makes some frankly ignorant claims about the history of ancient Paganism. So, needless to say, any article that makes her the primary point of reference on Paganism should be held suspect.

Bastet Temple Found: In a final note, Egyptian archaeologists have uncovered the temple of Queen Berenike (the wife of Ptolemy III) in Alexandria, and it appears that temple was dedicated to the Egyptian cat-goddess Bast/Bastet.

“The team found a large collection of statues depicting the cat goddess Bastet, indicating that the temple was dedicated to the deity. Clay pots and bronze statues of other Egyptian gods including Harpocrates and Ptah were also discovered, the Supreme Council said. The find suggests that the worship of Bastet continued even after the decline of the Pharaohs, it said.”

So proof that worship of Bast endured at least until the 3rd century? Good news for Bast fans! You can read more about the discovery, here.

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

ABC News has done an investigative news piece concerning a U.S. military contractor, Trijicon, that has been engraving Biblical verse references onto its sights. When challenged about this practice, a Trijicon spokesperson laid bare their prejudices concerning religion and the military.

“Trijicon confirmed to that it adds the biblical codes to the sights sold to the U.S. military. Tom Munson, director of sales and marketing for Trijicon, which is based in Wixom, Michigan, said the inscriptions “have always been there” and said there was nothing wrong or illegal with adding them. Munson said the issue was being raised by a group that is “not Christian.” The company has said the practice began under its founder, Glyn Bindon, a devout Christian from South Africa who was killed in a 2003 plane crash.”

Darn those “not Christian” groups raising concerns about the improper melding of Christian belief into our country’s supposedly secular military! So what “not Christian” group objected? Why the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, who raised concerns after several active-duty soldiers brought the matter to founder Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s attention. He claims that commanders are well-aware of the status of these “Christian” guns.

“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.’

Anyone can see that this is going to be a big story, so I find it strange that Sarah Pulliam Bailey, writing for Get Religion, chooses to downplay the controversy. Instead nitpicking over the use of the word “secret”, the use of the word “code” (even through the references are integrated into the serial number, making them harder to spot), and questioning whether it, you know, really, really, violated the separation of church and state.

“The reporters needed to challenge Weinstein to explain how it’s a violation of church and state. Surely there are other church/state experts who can address this. Are there any who might consider them okay? Or perhaps a symbol like an ichthus be acceptable but a Bible reference would cross the line? Reporters need to move beyond soundbites for specifics.”

Hey, I would have liked to see more church-state experts weigh in too, but her “criticism” smacks a bit too much of apologetics. It couldn’t be because she also works for Christianity Today, one of the largest evangelical Christian news sources, could it? No, I’m sure I’m just imagining things.

As for the Pagan angle to this story, how many of our Pagan soldiers are using “spiritually transformed firearm[s] of Jesus Christ” in the battlefield? Leaving aside the theological implications of making non-Christians use Jesus-guns, what does that do to their morale? To troop unity? Now that the story has broken, it seems to be creating a division in military leadership over how to handle the issue. While a a spokesperson for the Marine Corps said they were “concerned” and are going to be speaking to the contractor, military leadership in Iraq and Afghanistan are singing a different tune.

However, a spokesperson for CentCom, the U.S. military’s overall command in Iraq and Aghanistan, said he did not understand why the issue was any different from U.S. money with religious inscriptions on it. “The perfect parallel that I see,” said Maj. John Redfield, spokesperson for CentCom, told ABC News, “is between the statement that’s on the back of our dollar bills, which is ‘In God We Trust,’ and we haven’t moved away from that.”

Yes, there’s no difference between the deist-friendly, somewhat ecumenical, statement “In God We Trust” on our printed money, and a reference to Second Corinthians 4:6 on your government-issued scope rifle.

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

Doesn’t every solider, every American, believe that Christ is God’s only son? Wait, you mean they don’t? That, in fact, certain branches of the military are trying to be more inclusive and accepting of non-Christian religions? Well then, maybe it isn’t like that slogan on the money at all. In fact, maybe we are seeing a split between those who realize the military must reflect America as it truly is, and those who want to see it become an instrument of Christian power.