Trijicon Drops Bible Lines From Scope
Military.com | by Bryant Jordan
January 22, 2010
Rifle scopes bearing references to the New Testament no longer will be issued to American troops, and scopes already in service will have the references removed.
Military optics manufacturer Trijicon Inc., of Wixom, Mich., apparently concerned that a Pentagon review of the situation could lead to a loss or interruption of its multi-million dollar contract for the Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight, said it is ending the practice begun by the company’s founder more than 20 years ago.
Trijicon “has offered to voluntarily stop putting references to scripture on all products manufactured for the U.S. military – and will provide, free of charge, 100 modification kits to the Pentagon to enable the removal of the references that are already on products that are currently deployed,” the company said in a statement obtained by Military.com.
“In response to concerns raised by the Department of Defense, Trijicon Inc. initiated this action to ensure the war-time production needs of the troops are met as quickly as possible,” the statement added.
The scopes are being used by American Soldiers and Marines and allies in Afghanistan and Iraq, including by Iraqis and Afghans. The scopes came under criticism from religious, civil liberties and watchdog groups — and even from senior military leadership — after they were featured in an ABC News “Nightline” segment on Jan. 18.
One inscription, “JN 8:12,” refers to the book of John, chapter 8, verse 12 — a New Testament passage that reads: "When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ ”
The practice was hit on several fronts. Mikey Weinstein, head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, called it unconstitutional, a violation of the theater commander’s general order against proselytizing in Afghanistan and Iraq and was against those countries’ laws. Frank Schaeffer, an author and columnist for Military.com, said Trijicon had essentially sold the U.S. military “booby-trapped” equipment because it would generate resentment from Muslims and give the insurgents and al-Qaida fodder for their claim the U.S. is engaged in a “crusade” against Islam.
An Army spokesman told Military.com Wednesday that senior officials were reviewing the situation but had not yet decided what to do about it. But Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, later told CNN that the biblical references were a “big concern” to the Army and the Marine Corps.
“I hope you can sense … this is of serious concern to me and the other commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan because it can indeed create a perception that is absolutely contrary to what it is that we have sought to do,” he told the news network, noting that U.S. troops are more sensitive about the perception than the contractor.
Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, said the Pentagon’s only concern for the scopes should be that they are effective, not what is inscribed on them.
“The argument that adversaries motivated by jihadist ideology are likely to be further enraged by the scope manufacturer’s religious references is, in my opinion, simply lame,” she told Military.com in an e-mail. “Jihadists already accuse American Soldiers — not just American military equipment — of waging ‘holy war’ against them. I doubt that they would be less violent in their attacks on Americans if our non-Muslim military personnel had no religious faith at all.”
Trijicon’s move appears to be an about-face from its e-mailed statement Wednesday to Military.com, when a spokesman said: “As long as we have men and women in danger, we will continue to do everything we can to provide them with both state-of-the-art technology and the never-ending support and prayers of a grateful nation.”
In its announcement Thursday, Trijicon said it would remove the inscriptions on sights that have been manufactured, but not yet delivered, and would “ensure all future procurements from the Department of Defense are produced without scripture references.”
The company will be doing the same for scopes it supplies to other countries, as well.
On Thursday, New Zealand announced it would remove the inscriptions from scopes used by its troops, while Australia said it was considering what to do.
Reprinted with permission from Military.com
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