Does the Middle East Need More Christians?

ABC News found that Trijicon, which makes rifle scopes for the military, stamps references to Bible verses on its equipment. The defense contractor subsequently announced that it will voluntarily stop stamping these references on combat rifle sights. These sights are used in Iraq and Afghanistan -- sometimes to train Muslims, sometimes to shoot them. According to ABC News, this is very important. If a Muslim were to see this code on the side of a rifle and then look up the verse in one of the many Bibles you can easily find in Muslim countries, then that Muslim might become indoctrinated with Christianity and then … chaos or something.

Or maybe we just worry that the mere knowledge of a reference to the Bible in those countries will cause all Muslims in the Middle East to panic and randomly shoot each other in the faces like we're always worried they'll do at the slightest agitation.

Now, we've always been worried about our wars in the Middle East being perceived as religious wars, when they’re totally not. It's just that a number of people in the Middle East have killed Americans or want to kill Americans, so we're going to kill them back. It's a simple eye for an eye deal -- a principle I'm pretty sure has nothing to do with the Bible. That's why early on there was a big hubbub when George W. Bush referred to the war on terror as a "crusade."

You see, the Crusades are a big sore subject in the Middle East, because that's when the Christians conquered the Muslims … or the Muslims conquered the Christians … or maybe the Jews conquered all of them. I really don't know; I went to public school. Anyway, it's just one of those many things we want to be careful about -- like depicting Muhammad -- lest everyone in Middle East riot and kill each other.

So here's my problem with this entire train of thought. We're over there shooting Muslims and blowing stuff up, and we expect everyone to get over that. It's the mention of Jesus that is the unforgivable sin. I guess the idea is that stuff gets blown up and people are shot in the Middle East all the time -- so that's no big deal -- but Christianity is a lot less common, so that could upset them. Now, it's quite different here. If someone comes to America and talks about their religion, that's no big deal (or, judging from the reaction to Brit Hume’s comments about Christianity, that's how it used to be); it’s a free country, so talk about what you want. What gets us worked up is people coming over here and shooting other people and blowing stuff up. Hence the cultural clash.

I have a radical suggestion, though. Have we actually looked at the strategic benefits of actively proselytizing Christianity in the Middle East? Now, I'm a Christian, so I’ll admit that I'm biased; I think everybody would be happier if they followed Jesus Christ. But we have a secular government -- and I'm happy with that -- so let's put that aside and pretend all religions are just hokum. So, from this purely rational perspective, would trying to convert people in the Middle East have benefits?