Jesus Guns backfire

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: Afghanistan, Taliban Views: 3787

A US marine checks his M-4 service rifle with Trijicon gunsight (inset) bearing the code JN8:12 Photograph:

Jesus loves you. Well, maybe not everybody. Especially if you happen to be a Taliban caught in the crosshairs of a rifle made by the American company, Trijicon. 

A bit of a stushie has being brewing of late over Trijicon and, for those readers unfamiliar with the rumpus, let me briefly elaborate.

In a nutshell, Trijicon has a multi-year contract worth $660m to provide state-of-the-art gunsights for the US military and, as was revealed this week, the British Ministry of Defence. So far so good, or bad, depending on how you feel about arms manufacturers. Then again Trijicon doesn't make guns, just bits for guns. Advanced Combat Optical Gunsights or Acog's. I quote from Trijicon's sales promotion material: "When you're engaged in a firefight or defending an established position, you want a battle-tested partner at your side. Trijicon, the world leader in self-luminous Brilliant Aiming Solutions, can supply that partner."

That "battle-tested partner" is not the only thing at your side, however. As every US soldier in Afghanistan will be relieved to hear, with Trijicon they also have God on their side. How do we know this? Well, with every Trijicon gunsight comes a free - yes, free - biblical inscription. For years, it seems, Trijicon has been inscribing its gunsights references to biblical passages. Markings such as "2COR4:6" and "JN8:12" in the same font as the stock number. The first is a reference to part of the second letter of Paul to the Corinthians. The second is chapter eight, verse 12 in the book of John: "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'."

Yes, indeed, the light of life, not to mention the accuracy and enough knockdown power to blow a hole in a man several hundred yards away. But perhaps I'm being cynical. After all, according to Tom Munson, director of sales and marketing for Michigan-based Trijicon, the inscriptions "have always been there". Apparently they were devised by Trijicon's former CEO Glyn Bindon, a devout Christian who appears to have overlooked the words "Thou shalt not kill" before he died in a plane crash in 2003.

How dare I or anyone else presume this might have been a recent addition to Trijicon's products, aimed at ramming home Christian fundamentalism from the barrel of a gun towards an Islamic enemy? That fact that the inscriptions have been there for "two decades" makes all the difference. To be fair, Mr Munson does have a point. He could have argued that Trijicon's values have been around for a very long time, centuries even. Indeed, wasn't it that earlier God-fearing generation of Christian holy warriors, the Crusaders, who used to inscribe their swords before using them to cut up Muslims?

As far as Trijicon is concerned, the company goes to great lengths to point out it has always endeavoured to have its products used whenever "solutions are required to protect individual freedom".

Now, let's address some serious questions. For a start, what sort of message does the existence of these "Jesus guns", as they have been dubbed, send to the Taliban as well as ordinary Muslims in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq?

Stop for an instant to think of the terrific propaganda coup this has handed the Taliban and Islamic extremists. In the vigorous rumour mill that exists about the war in Afghanistan's towns, villages and tea houses, the Jesus guns story will already be doing the rounds. No slouches when it comes to exploiting such tales for their own ends, the Taliban propaganda machine won't miss the opportunity to point out the parallels with the Crusaders and insist that each US and British soldier targets Muslims with the power of their "God's word". The fact that Afghan and Iraqi soldiers have been trained using these gunsights will only add to the potency of the Taliban's long-argued case that the battle for Afghanistan is a "religious war". A war between Christianity and Islam.

How can the Pentagon and MoD talk of winning hearts and minds in Afghanistan while allowing such a crass oversight to play directly to the Taliban's efforts to do the same? Under US military rules, the proselytising of any religion in Iraq or Afghanistan is prohibited. They were drawn up specifically to prevent criticism that the US was embarked on a religious "crusade" in its war against the Taliban, al Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents.

It's not surprising, then, that the Penatagon is keen to play down the Trijicon Jesus guns affair. But some on the other side of the pond are determined that it will not simply be swept under the carpet. "It violates the constitution, it violates a number of federal laws," says Michael Weinstein, of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a group that seeks to preserve the separation of church and state in the military.

Quoted on ABC NEWS, the US network that broke the story, Weinstein, a lawyer, says many within the military have complained about Trijicon's markings. This will come as a surprise to many people, who might be forgiven for thinking the US military is hopelessly inhabited by bible-bashing nutters.

Worryingly, though, Weinstein admits that some in the ranks who approve of the markings have referred to the weapons and their Trijicon gunsights as the "spiritually transformed firearms of Jesus Christ".

Meanwhile, on this side of the Atlantic, the MoD, in the best tradition of British understatement, says it had no idea of the significance of the inscriptions when it placed an order for 400 gunsights as part of a 1.5m "urgent operational requirement".

Frankly, it is unbelievable that both the Pentagon and MoD missed the existence of such a potentially provocative issue as these biblical markings on soldiers' weapons. At the very least, it casts doubt on the level of understanding both departments of state have about those parts of the Islamic world where they are embroiled in war.

As for Trijicon, so far there are few signs that the millions of dollars it makes from its contracts will be adversely affected. The company stands by its belief that "America's goodness is based on biblical standards ... and will strive to follow those morals".

In God We Trust might well be the US national motto, but as far as the Taliban is concerned, it is the devil in the detail of the "Jesus guns" that no doubt will add renewed vigour to its own holy war.

Source: HeraldScotland Guest Comment

Update: Firm will remove Bible references from gun sights

  Category: Americas, World Affairs
  Topics: Afghanistan, Taliban
Views: 3787

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Older Comments:
I believe the Christian inscriptions on the weapons of death are THE issue in that context. We have a long history of Crusaders committing savage acts such as feasting upon Muslim babies etc (documented by Christians themselves.) The Religion of Love has not shared a lot of love from the Crusades, Inquisitions, Reconquistas, Colonial times, savage Serbs,rabid Russians etc. Remember the wiping out of pagans in Europe by Christian "Knights"? As for so-called "Biblical" Christianity - which Bible, & which Christianity? Obviously never heard of Nicaea...!
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Satan is crying for help against the believers. Will you disarm of the false god detectors and give way to the kingdom of Satan? Beware, brethren on the ranks, the enemy pleading for his life pleads against your life ...
There is no compromise in War: the enemy of God and His people must give up and submit to the Gospel... and be eternally saved, not temporarily from the fatal bullet...of the empire...that is complained against...
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I do not believe the inscription on the gun is the issue but it is the purpose of the gun. As far as, I am concerned Trijicon can name his device anyway he likes, it may be against US laws to proselityse the war but the fact remain that the gun is still killing people. Hope my point came across.
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This is an Old War. We call it a fight for this or that but we can
cut it short and simply know, This is a continuation of the same
old war. Christianity or western Thought Vs Islam. But it is a little
deeper than that because This is Not Real Christianity. This is
Something that was put together by the Roman empire in the
Creed. Any way.,.this is an old war you can It is said in the
Prince. in a time of war one must choose a side or be the Slave
of booth. One must choose a side and fight in his own way.
Sitting around reading books is great but we shall all be judged
and asked.,.what did you do to Help your People.,.,.,.What did
you build.,.contribute to,.,how did you fight????.,.Well I read
cool books and worked hard at my job.,.may not be the best
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The article has definite value in that it reports on the given situation, but I couldn't say in the poll whether I'm "for" or against" it because there is some ambiguity as to whether you are asking about the article itself or the practice of inscribing scriptural references on a weapon of war. I'm for the article having been printed, but think the inscriptions are/were in bad taste for such a manufacturer.

By the way the "Tri" in that company's name very likely refers to the Holy Trinity of Christianity, but there we go again... Evidently they make a good product or it would not be in such widespread but very unfortunate use.

Those who feel it necessary to spill blood in order to spread the truth of their religion would seem to have little faith in it's own absolute power to win the hearts of men otherwise. Allah/God might be disapointed to witness that the words of His prophets have for so long proven insufficient. I only know for sure that I am.
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Weitehr Muslims perceive it or not, this is a Jewish/christian crusade agaisnt Islam. Obama once said " US is not and will never be at war with Islam" but this is contrary to the reality. Common sense tells me long time ago that it's a religious war for Oil, domination of muslim land, eradicate islam? ( which willnever possible)
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What will be will eventually be. Let us all go back to events in the past ask this fundamental question? Has there ever been Man made law that does not conform with the Quran but remain relevant with Time? Hey! Muslim community all over the world, let Love and Unity be the watch word. Allah be praised that I am a Muslim,
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Biblical Christianity will be propagated in the US military, with or without the permission of Obama or the US government.Then those inside the military can spread it further.
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I think is rediculous to believe that the purchasers and users of these gun parts since 2004 have not noticed the markings until now. Soldiers - from all nations - regularly examine and clean their weapons and some should have questioned the markings years ago. Perhaps some did - but it was not made public.
I also think it was wrong of the Trijicon to fail to disclose this information to potential customers before the finilization of sales contracts. Better still to allow the customers a choice if they wanted the markings or not.
Now, I hear that purchasing nations will remove the markings - no doubt at their own expense. This, I think, is also wrong and would like to suggest that Trijicon be required to pay for the removal of the markings from their own funds. Let Trijicon send its own employees out to the soldiers - wherever they may be - and remove the markings. Perhaps they would also appologize personally to each soldier.
Bottom line - I think Trijicon was very wrong in their method of imposing their beliefs in this manner while making a huge financial profit too.
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