What would Jesus do about this?
The rifle sights that U.S. troops use in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan not only help them find their targets, they also help them find God. The scopes are inscribed with Bible codes.
The maker of the sights, a Michigan company named Trijicon, has a $660 million contract with the government to provide 800,000 sites to the military. It says it has been providing the military with equipment since 1995 and has never had any complaints.
"We don't publicize this," said Tom Munson, Trijicon's director of sales and marketing said in an interview. "It's not something we make a big deal out of. But when asked, we say, 'Yes, it's there.'"
The inscriptions are in raised lettering near the serial number. For example, one marking says "JN8:12," which is a reference to John 8:12: "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.'"
Another is stamped "2COR4:6," a reference to part of the second letter of Paul to the Corinthians: "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."
A spokesman for U.S. Central Command, which manages military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, said the inscribed sights do not violate the ban on proselytizing because there's no effort to distribute the equipment beyond the U.S. troops who use them.
"This situation is not unlike the situation with U.S. currency," said the spokesman, Air Force Maj. John Redfield. "Are we going to stop using money because the bills have 'In God We Trust' on them? As long as the sights meet the combat needs of troops, they'll continue to be used."
But Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said the inscribed sights could give the Taliban and other enemy forces a propaganda tool -- that American troops are Christian crusaders invading Muslim countries.
"I don't have to wonder for a nanosecond how the American public would react if citations from the Koran were being inscribed onto these U.S. armed forces gun sights instead of New Testament citations," Weinstein said. Weinstein said he has received complaints about the inscriptions from active-duty and retired members of the military.
Trijicon said the company's founder began putting Bible references on its sites nearly 30 years ago. After he was killed in a plane crash in 2003, his son continued the practice.