The Blotter stirred interest on Monday with the painfully titled “U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed with Secret ‘Jesus’ Bible Codes.” ABC’s Joseph Rhee, Tahman Bradley, and Brian Ross wrote:
Coded references to New Testament Bible passages about Jesus Christ are inscribed on high-powered rifle sights provided to the United States military by a Michigan company, an ABC News investigation has found.
The sights are used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers.
Written in a scandalous tone perhaps better suited for Page Six, the ABC News team notes that the tritium-illuminated optical sights manufactured by industry leader Trijicon have abbreviations noting Biblical verses. The verses are on each and every product Trijicon ships, including variants of the Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG) telescopic sights and Reflex close quarters combat sights commonly used by U.S. forces. The scripture references always contain the word “light,” a reference to both company founder Glyn Bindon’s Christian faith and the fact that the glowing tritium used in these sights make them useful in almost any lighting condition.
The “secret ‘Jesus’ Bible codes” are hardly secret. They are noted on the body of each optic, appended to the model number. For example, the line on a telescopic 4-power, 32mm lens ACOG sight reads “ACOG4X32JN8:12,” with “JN8:12” a rather less-than-cryptic reference to John 8:12 — a verse in the New Testament 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.”
A Reflex sight manufactured by the company notes a model number line of “REFLEX1X2-2COR 4:6,” with the familiar biblical abbreviation of “2COR 4:6” referring to 2 Corinthians 4:6:
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.
Other variants of these Trijicon optics also contain a biblical abbreviation openly appended to the product number, as do some of the other optical products made by the company. The abbreviations are an element that Tom Munson, Trijicon’s director of sales and marketing, says has “always been there.”
As it happens, “always” would go back to when Trijicon optics were first adopted by the U.S. military, starting with an early version of the ACOG entering the Army’s Advanced Combat Rifle Program in 1987 — 23 years ago.
Trijicon optics first went to war with the U.S. Army in Operation Just Cause in 1989, and Trijicon sights were used in the 1990-91 Gulf War, also known as Operation Desert Storm. By 1995, the 4×32 ACOG was adopted by the U.S. Army Special Forces, with the Reflex joining the Green Berets in 1996. By 2004, a variant of the 4×32 ACOG became the first standard combat rifle optical sight of the Marine Corps, after a 229-year tradition of relying almost exclusively on iron sights.
While ABC News would like to pretend that its investigative team is breaking new ground, the knowledge of scripture notation on Trijicon products was widespread in the civilian shooting community no later than 2006, when posts about the practice were noted on various Internet shooting forums. At that time four years ago, the general reaction seems to have been mild bemusement.
The story then seems to have gone cold for nearly four years … until an entry two weeks ago on Richard Dawkins’ forum expressed incredulity as they rediscovered old news:
I happen to do a lot of competitive shooting and was looking at different rifle scopes to purchase. A friend told me that the one I was interested in had “cool” bible verses engraved on them if you looked underneath. I was skeptical (of course) and went to the gun shop to look for myself. Sure enough, on the body of the scope there’s the manufacturer’s engraving “Trijicon – John 8:12”.
John 8:12 is a verse about jebus (sic) being the light of the world and anyone who doesn’t follow him walks in darkness.
This gun sight, the Trijicon ACOG, is standard issue in the U.S. Army & Marine Corps. They are paid for with my tax dollars, and purchased by the thousands. I really have an issue with this. My country’s talking points include how we’re a secular nation that “respects all faiths,” but hey, as long as we’re killing Muslims, lets buy gun sights with jesus on them.
Dawkins, of course, is a noted atheist, and it is no great stretch to see how an irate posting on a prominent atheist web site would quickly disseminate to another atheist group and then the media in a very short amount of time, with little change in tone. The staff of The Blotter relied on the outrage of thin-skinned atheists like Michael “Mikey” Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group that seeks to preserve the separation of church and state in the military. He claims in the ABC News article that the verse notation “violates the Constitution, it violates a number of federal laws.”
ABC’s reporters declined to press Weinstein and ask him to cite which federal laws outlaw the use of Bible verses or references to them, nor did they challenge Mr. Weinstein to explain how Trijicon’s practice violates the Constitution. For his part, Weinstein regurgitates a standard though vague talking point of many atheists: that any reference to a religious faith (particularly Christianity) in government is a violation of “separation of church and state.”
Rhee, Bradley, and Ross — apparently sympathetic to Weinstein’s position — fail to press him to explain how fine print on the sights of combat weapons are used to proselytize a religion, even by those few souls allowed to become that intimately involved with the non-firing end of a U.S. weapon.
While the article has certainly created an outcry on the atheistic left, and the manufactured outrage seems to have caught a politically correct Department of Defense flat-footed, there does not seem to be any logical reason why Trijicon’s highly effective sights should be removed from combat, rendering our soldiers less combat effective.
Instead, the article reveals itself to be an exercise of ideological self-indulgence from a news organization more willing to attack fellow Americans and to try to remove some of the most useful tools our soldiers have than to combat terrorists.