Looking Through the Sights of a Christian Gun

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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 ABCNews.com 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.