Friday, January 22, 2010

Follow-up --- Muslim anger over military Jesus scopes

Australia, N.Zealand order review of 'bible' gunsights
JAN 22,10

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia Friday ordered its military to look at removing biblical references from weapons used by troops in Afghanistan, after New Zealand banned the completely inappropriate inscriptions.Australia's Defence Minister John Faulkner said the military had been unaware of the meaning of the letters and numbers etched into the US-made gunsights, which refer to passages in the New Testament.I have asked Defence to examine the options available to deal with this matter without compromising the safety of our troops and critically important capabilities, Faulkner said.Faulkner's comments came as neighbouring New Zealand condemned the inscriptions as potentially inflammatory.They cause the same problems as putting slogans on bombs. We should not be doing anything that might give opponents any propaganda leverage, New Zealand's Defence Minister Wayne Mapp told AFP.The markings are completely inappropriate and the Defence Force will be looking at ways to get rid of them, now and for future deliveries.

The rifle sights are inscribed with lettering such as JN8:12 -- an apparent reference to chapter eight, verse 12 in the Book of John which reads:Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.Australia and New Zealand both have forces operating in Afghanistan and there are fears that the references could endanger coalition troops fighting in Muslim-majority nations where the US military is already bitterly resented.The New Zealand Defence Force has 260 of the rifle sights, which come from the US company Trijicon, while Australia's military has some 1,050.Trijicon, which also supplies US and British forces, said it has inscribed references to the New Testament on the metal casings of its gunsights for more than two decades.But after angry reaction from Muslim and religious freedom groups to the news that it has multimillion-dollar contracts to supply hundreds of thousands of the gunsights to the US military, the firm said it would provide the US with kits to remove the references.

The Australian Defence Force, which has around 1,500 troops in Afghanistan, said it was unaware of the significance of the hard-to-spot references, which are in raised lettering immediately following the stock number on the metal casing of the gunsights, when it purchased the rifle sights.The sights were procured because they provide mature technology which is highly reliable, in wide use by our allies and best meet Defence requirements,a department spokeswoman said.The Department of Defence is very conscious of the sensitivities associated with this issue and is assessing how to address these as soon as practicable.

NZ army to remove Bible citations from armaments By RAY LILLEY, Associated Press Writer – Thu Jan 21, 6:07 am ET

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Biblical citations inscribed on U.S.-manufactured weapon sights used by New Zealand's troops in Afghanistan will be removed because they are inappropriate and could stoke religious tensions, New Zealand said Thursday.The inscriptions on products from defense contractor Trijicon of Wixom, Michigan, came to light this week in the U.S. where Army officials said Tuesday they would investigate whether the gun sights — also used by U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq — violate U.S. procurement laws.Australia also said Thursday its military used the sights and was now assessing what to do.Trijicon said it has had such inscriptions on its products for three decades and has never received complaints about them before. The inscriptions, which don't include actual text from the Bible, refer numerically to passages from the book.New Zealand defense force spokesman Maj. Kristian Dunne said Trijicon would be instructed to remove the inscriptions from further orders of the gun sights for New Zealand and the letters would be removed from gun sights already in use by troops.The inscriptions ... put us in a difficult situation. We were unaware of it and we're unhappy that the manufacturer didn't give us any indication that these were on there, Dunne said.We deem them to be inappropriate.The Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight rifle sights used by New Zealand troops, which allow them to pinpoint targets day or night, carried references to Bible verses that appeared in raised lettering at the end of the sight stock number.

Markings included JN8:12, a reference to John 8:12: Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life, according to the King James version of the Bible.The Trijicon Reflex sight is stamped with 2COR4:6, a reference to part of the second letter of Paul to the Corinthians: 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, the King James version reads.

Dunne said New Zealand's defense force has about 260 of the company's gun sights, which were first bought in 2004, and will continue to use them once the inscriptions are removed because they are the best of their kind.New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said the government was not aware of the inscriptions when the defense force bought the equipment.Now we are in discussions with the company in the United States who will ensure the inscriptions are removed, and we wouldn't want them on future sights, he told reporters.Earlier, Defense Minister Wayne Mapp said with New Zealand soldiers in Muslim countries, the Bible references could be misconstrued.We all know of the religious tensions around this issue and it's unwise to do anything that could be seen to raise tensions in an unnecessary way, he said.Trijicon said it has been long-standing company practice to put the Scripture citations on the equipment. Tom Munson, Trijicon's director of sales and marketing, said the company had never received complaints until now.We don't publicize this, Munson said in a recent interview. It's not something we make a big deal out of. But when asked, we say, Yes, it's there.Trijicon said biblical references were first put on the sites nearly 30 years ago by the company founder, Glyn Bindon, who was killed in a plane crash in 2003. His son Stephen, Trijicon's president, continued the practice.

The references have stoked concerns by critics in the U.S. about whether they break a government rule that bars proselytizing by American troops. But U.S. military officials said the citations don't violate the ban and they won't stop using the tens of thousands of telescoping sights that have already been bought. The Australian Defense Department, which with 1,550 troops in Afghanistan is the largest contributor to that campaign outside NATO, said Thursday that it also used the sights but had been unaware of the significance of the manufacturer's serial number.

The Department of Defense is very conscious of the sensitivities associated with this issue and is assessing how to address these as soon as practicable," the department said in a statement.

Muslim anger over military Jesus scopes
Thu Jan 21, 5:50 am ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Muslim groups reacted angrily Wednesday after it emerged that the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan were using rifle sights inscribed with coded Biblical references.The company producing the sights, which are also used to train Afghan and Iraqi soldiers under contracts with the US Army and the Marine Corps, said it has inscribed references to the New Testament on the metal casings for over two decades.The British Ministry of Defense meanwhile announced it had placed an order for 400 of the gunsights with Trijicon but added it had not been aware of the significance of the inscriptions, in a decision criticized by the opposition Liberal Democrat party.The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) called on US Defense Secretary Robert Gates to immediately withdraw from combat use equipment found to have inscriptions of Biblical references after it emerged that Trijicon has contracts to supply over 800,000 of the sights to the US military.The Pentagon sought to defuse the brewing controversy, saying it was disturbed by the reports.If determined to be true, this is clearly inappropriate and we are looking into possible remedies, Commander Darryn James, a Pentagon spokesman, told AFP.The codes were used as part of our faith and our belief in service to our country, Trijicon 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, a company spokesman said on condition of anonymity.

The move appeared to be a direct violation of a US Central Command general order issued after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq that strictly prohibits proselytizing of any religion, faith or practice.A whistleblower group that first alerted ABC News to the issue this week warned the practice was putting troops in harm's way by raising fears of Christian proselytizing in Muslim-majority nations home to militants resentful of US military presence.This is the worst type of emboldenment of the enemy that you can imagine, Military Religious Freedom Foundation founder and president Michael Mikey Weinstein said in an interview.Weinstein, a former White House legal counsel in Ronald Reagan's administration, said his group would submit a filing in US federal court in Kansas City, Missouri by February 4 in a related case.

Having Biblical references on military equipment violates the basic ideals and values our country was founded upon, MPAC Washington director Haris Tarin said in a statement.Worse still, it provides propaganda ammo to extremists who claim there is a Crusader war against Islam by the United States, he added.The shocking revelation raises fresh fears of Christian fundamentalism seeping through the US military's ranks.It's got to stop. It's wrong on a million levels, said Weinstein. This is massively endangering the lives and well-being of our members of the military.His foundation, he added, represents nearly 16,000 troops, the bulk of them Christians.

A Muslim-American soldier, who declined to be named due to fears of persecution, said he was ashamed and horrified by the writings on the gunsights of weapons he used during deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are many other soldiers who feel as I do. Many are Protestant and Catholic and they fear reprisal just as much as I do for trying to stand up to the Christian bullies in uniform who outrank us, he said in a letter dated January 14 and addressed to Weinstein and his foundation.

The Secular Coalition for America demanded the US military end its contracts with Trijicon. Trijicon knew that the scopes they were producing were for the use of the US military and their decision to keep these engravings shows a flagrant disregard by a private contractor of the laws that govern our land, said the group's director Sean Faircloth. According to photographs seen by AFP, the coded inscriptions include JN8:12, an apparent reference to John 8:12: Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.Trijicon, a defense contractor founded by devout Christian Glyn Bindon, vows on its website to follow biblical standards it says make America great.


Phyllis Blickensderfer said...

What else will come up that will show how Muslims hate Christians?

joe six-pack said...

This is just an excuse for being angry about something else. After all, are you angry about an enemy attacking you with a tank, or airplane? NO, you are angry at the enemy.

The weapon is not the problem. However, Muslim anger management IS a major problem world-wide.