U.S. optics manufacturer Trijicon has bowed to pressure to remove biblical references from their optics products, just days after the decades-old practice was sensationalized in an ABC News report that claimed the references were “secret ‘Jesus’ Bible codes” that could inflame radical Muslims who have attempted to brand wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as modern crusades since those conflicts began.
Trijicon’s Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG) telescopic sight and close-combat Reflex optic are key components of the U.S. Special Operations Peculiar Modification (SOPMOD) kit adopted for the Green Beret’s M4 carbines in the late 1990s, and have since been adopted widely by other U.S. military forces and allied foreign governments. The U.S. Marine Corps currently has a $660 million multi-year contract to supply 800,000 ACOGs.
Trijicon founder Glyn Bindon had included references to biblical passages on the company’s optics from its inception (and before military adoption), and the tradition was continued after his death in 2003. Each line of optics had its own New Testament verse printed alongside the scope model number. All verses include the word “light,” a reference both to Bindon’s faith and the glowing tritium used in the company’s rifle scopes. Knowledge of the scripture notation on Trijicon products was common in the civilian shooting community no later than 2006, and posts about the practice were noted on various Internet shooting forums. The references were also known in some circles of the U.S. military, though the extent of the knowledge seems to have been limited to the operational ranks where Trijicon-enhanced small arms were actually handled.
Top brass in the U.S. Army and Marines claimed to be unaware of the references after the story broke, and their initial reactions were mixed. An Army spokesman for U.S. Central Command noted that the inscriptions were not more religious (and far less overt) than the U.S. dollars emblazoned with “In God We Trust” that Islamic nations worldwide eagerly accept. A spokesman for the U.S Marines was far more cautious, saying that they were “concerned with how this may be perceived.”
Characteristically, the Council on American Islam Relations (CAIR) was quick to attack the perceived slight, while the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) called on Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to remove all Trijicon optics from combat immediately. Salam Al-Marayati, MPAC’s executive director, claimed: “All of us are concerned about the security of our nation.” He proved MPAC’s true allegiance by demanding all Trijicon optics be removed from rifles even while soldiers and Marines were relying on them in combat.
Al-Marayati seemed far more concerned about offending Muslims than doing what is best for American troops. More than one critic of these organizations noted that the same protesting groups rarely voice the same level of outrage when their coreligionists murder other Muslims in the name of Allah.