The Bible in Their Sights

I’m grateful (sort of) to Andrew Jones and Bishop Nick Baines for drawing my attention to this rather depressing bit of news.

Coded references to biblical passages are inscribed on gunsights widely used by the US and British military in Iraq and Afghanistan, it has emerged.

The markings include “2COR4:6” and “JN8:12”, relating to verses in the books of Corinthians II and John.

Trijicon, the US-based manufacturer, was founded by a devout Christian, and says it runs to “Biblical standards”.

But military officials in the US and UK have expressed concern over the way the markings will be perceived.

The company has added the references to its sights for many years, but the issue surfaced only recently when soldiers complained to an advocacy group.

Leaving aside the question of whether a company run to Biblical standards should be manufacturing gunsights in the first place, this is a very problematic use of the Bible. At first it might seem great to have John 8:12 engraved on a piece of equipment.

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.”

What could be better than to point out to people that Jesus is the light of the world? Of course, the person on the wrong end of the gun won’t have a great deal of time or opportunity to meditate upon what it means to have the light of life. And what impression does this create for the soldier carrying and firing the gun. There is the clear impression that Jesus, the light of the world, is supporting the guys with the Tricorn gunsight. Who was it said that God is on the side of the big battalions? Even worse, it may give the impression that while Jesus has the power to give life, the guy with the gun is more powerful, because he can take it away!

There are at least a couple of other problems with putting verses from the Bible on the gunsights. Quoting first Andrew and then Nick.

… Michael “Mikey” Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation claims “It allows the Mujahedeen, the Taliban, al Qaeda and the insurrectionists and jihadists to claim they’re being shot by Jesus rifles”. He said coded biblical inscriptions play into the hands of “those who are calling this a Crusade.” I think he has a point. What do you think?

… Worse still, this makes the Christian faith, the Christian Church and the Bible itself an easy target for ignorant atheists who find in it their own ammunition for simplistic targeting of a book they haven’t read and can’t be bothered to try to understand.

I’m not a great one for throwing around isolated Bible verses, but if Tricorn are looking for another Scripture passage to engrave on their weapons, can I respectfully suggest that Psalm 11:5 might be appropriate in the context.

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4 replies on “The Bible in Their Sights”

I think this is wrong in many ways: politically, it plays into the hands of Moslem fanatics. From the Christian perspective, I’d agree it plays into the hands of militant atheists. What did the Christian business man think the gun sites would be used for?

Obviously I agree that it is peculiar and unhelpful to abuse the Bible in this way, but I would also caution that we (especially non-American) Christians should think carefully before jumping onto the bandwagon of reactive criticism here. Who is it who has made such a big fuss about this really rather obscure feature of the sights?

According to it is “US Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) – an advocacy group that seeks to preserve the separation of church and state in the military”.

Of course my own perception (from this side of the Atlantic having talked to American friends) is that in the American context “separation of church and state” basically seems to boil down to elimination of any Christian expression in public or by public figures. Christianity must be a private affair. In fact, mostly people banging on now about separation of church and state are ardent atheists. So Christians on this side of the Atlantic might want to be wary lest we unwittingly end up yoked in opinion to unbelievers. But I might be wrong there and am ready to be corrected.

You may be interested to know that when I read this post your Google ads widget showed an ad for an online game called Holy War
I am sure the company in question is encouraged in their actions by the many Christians in the US who vociferously support the NRA and the need for civilians to bear arms. Many of their arguments seem to be based on wild echatological speculation.

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