If thy rifle scope offends thee, pluck it out

By Phil Plait | January 19, 2010 12:44 pm

jesus_with_rifle[Update: In this post I originally said that Biblical passages are inscribed in the sights, however, what is actually inscribed are references to these passages, such as "JN8:12" referring to John 8:12. I corrected the text below. I don't think changes anything but I want to be accurate.]

[Update 2: I urge folks to please read this soldier's account of his experience with these inscriptions.]

There has been a minor uproar over an ABC news report that some rifle sights made by a Michigan company and bought by the US military have Biblical inscriptions in them.

According to the article, the military Powers That Be apparently didn’t know about the inscriptions (though apparently some soldiers knew; see below). The military does have rules forbidding proselytizing any religion in Iraq or Afghanistan (where the rifles are used), and this could be seen as such. Certainly it’s fodder for the people there to claim the US is waging a holy war, so the inscriptions are a pretty bad idea.

What to do about this?

First, on the military side, they need to sever the contract with the company, called Trijicon. I would hope that there is some other company that can make scopes for the rifles — if not, then the military needs to tell Trijicon to stop inscribing the ones they buy. The existing scopes are a problem to be sure, but that’s already done. Maybe they can be swapped out, or the inscriptions scraped off, though of course the expense in time and money would be huge. As far as the military goes, I think it’s almost certainly not worth it; they may simply have to (haha) bite the bullet, continue to use the rifle scopes, and hope for the best.

Trijicon, on the other hand, really screwed this up. They put the U. S. government in a bind here, both financially and perceptually. Whether they did this knowing it would violate U.S. laws or not, they need to be fined at the very least, and publicly humiliated as well.

Why humiliated? One of the Bible passages referenced on the scopes reads, "Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Remember, that’s referenced in the scope of a rifle designed to kill people. Unless I have grossly misinterpreted the Sermon on the Mount, I don’t think that’s exactly what Jesus had in mind.

So Trijicon is icky and weird and allegedly did something illegal. However, Michael Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation goes farther. He said: "It’s wrong, it violates the Constitution, it violates a number of federal laws…" I agree it’s wrong and that it violates laws. I suspect a First Amendment case can be made here, but I’m not sure it’s a good one, or that it’s worth making. I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that an indirect violation of the Establishment Clause has probably occurred, and since it was done unknowingly by the military, the violation of the federal law is a better avenue of pursuit if action is taken to stop the inscriptions. I’m glad the issue has come to light, but I certainly don’t think we need to rake the Marines and Air Force as a whole over the coals because of it.

Now, having said that, there’s the matter of some soldiers knowing about the inscriptions. Weinstein says that "…commanders have referred to weapons with the sights as ‘spiritually transformed firearm[s] of Jesus Christ.’" If that is true, then we have a far clearer problem. Those soldiers have indeed violated the First Amendment, and again, if this is true those military personnel need to be chastised — at the very least. I am of the opinion they shouldn’t be in charge of troops in religious tinderbox areas like Iraq and Afghanistan as well. The idea of religious zealots fighting on our behalf in an area that has been torn apart by religious zealotry for millennia strikes me as a really, really bad idea.

But then, again in my opinion, Weinstein goes too far in his rhetoric:

"This is probably the best example of violation of the separation of church and state in this country," said Weinstein. "It’s literally pushing fundamentalist Christianity at the point of a gun against the people that we’re fighting. We’re emboldening an enemy."

This statement makes me uncomfortable. I suspect Al Qaeda will use this as propaganda against us, but then they do that for everything; they hardly need more fodder for that. But this being the best example of Establishment violation… I think Weinstein needs to take a look at Kansas, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and most recently Mississippi. Creationists make bigger violations than this over breakfast every day.

Perhaps he means Iraq when he says "this country", though the context in the article is unclear. Either way, though, I think caution is called for in our rhetoric over things like this. There’s a clear path here, and no need to exaggerate the situation.

The image of Jesus with a rifle is everywhere on the web, but I couldn’t find the original. If anyone knows who did this, please leave a comment!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Piece of mind, Politics, Religion

Comments (223)

  1. Honestly I don’t have a problem with anything that Weinstein said. If anything, I think he did not go far enough, at least in the quotes provided. The words “irresponsible” and “selfish” come to mind, as do “morons, idiots, and pea-brained fools” and “endangering our troops.”

    The company Trijicon is not apologetic about it, intends to continue doing it and has accused anyone who has a problem with it of being (and this is a quote from ABC News) “Not Christian.” Which is kind of the frakking point.

    When a member of Al Qaeda can point to something and say “See? I have proof in my hand that they really are on a crusade against Islam, and all dutiful Muslims have an obligation to kill them any way they can,” because of something so mind-boggingly stupid as Christian evangelism on military hardware, then at bare minimum harsh language is deserved.

  2. Trijicon had better tread carefully, lest they run afoul of sedition laws.

  3. Just to clarify a point, the actual verses are not on the scopes, but the reference to the verse. e.g. “JN8:12″.

  4. “Unless I have grossly misinterpreted the Sermon on the Mount, I don’t think that’s exactly what Jesus had in mind.”

    Why am I reminded of that Family Guy segment: “Did you know that Jesus and Moses used guns to conquer the Romans?”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taih2zUOmIM

  5. Matt

    This is just what I needed as a resident of Michigan. Yet another thing to be ashamed of.

  6. Ivy Groves

    I’ve got some Trijicon sights and they are wonderful. I don’t care what they write on the sight and I’m a wiccan. All they engrave is the reference to the verse, not the verse itself. It could be a model number for all anyone cares. Were the sights defective? No. Did the military get one of the best quality sights on the market? Yes. What’s the flipping big deal?

  7. Gus Snarp

    Not sure how the commanders who knew the markings were there, if they are not responsible for the contract, in any way violated any law, let alone the first amendment. They used the equipment they were issued. Is it the “spiritually transformed firearm[s] of Jesus Christ.” quote? Sounds to me like a joke about the incongruity of the bible verse reference being on guns, not like a case of proselytizing. You need more than that quote out of context to make a case for the latter on the part of the ground commanders.

  8. Gus Snarp

    I love the ads on your blog (well, sometimes I hate them) right now it’s for Barska scopes. Maybe they should get the new contract?

  9. Vern

    You folks don’t believe in JC so what’s the problem?

  10. The Trijicon sights are very good and useful tools, so I would hate to see the contract ended. However, they definitely deserve a slap on the wrist as this is exactly the kind of stuff that creates problems for us on the ground. Of course, it doesn’t help that there’s a legion of holy rollers on active duty who no doubt think there’s nothing wrong with this.

  11. Bahdum (aka Richard)

    “But tell me now, who’s my saving one:
    Jesus or a gun?” – Fuel

    Hmm, someone is not as powerful as certain people would like us to believe.

  12. Harley

    The government shouldn’t be severing the contract, it should be forcing Trijicon to uphold their end of it by providing scopes that don’t have the inscriptions. When a government contractor screws up, Uncle Sam doesn’t just say “oh, whoops, guess we’ll just get somebody else to do it,” no, the contractor is bound to fix their mistakes at no further cost. Further, I’m sure a number of servicemen would argue that the ACOG is somewhat irreplaceable.

  13. rrt

    I agree almost entirely with ZADL. This isn’t the best example of a violation of the establishment clause, but it’s a very practical, real and harmful one. At least our government gets to feign ignorance on this one, but that’s not much of a silver lining.

    I also agree about this company’s mind-boggling irresponsibility. For the sake of a childish, jingoistic stunt it endangered troops and embarassed the Army and the country–and probably will cost them considerable money to fix their mess. The government better give them a smiting of biblical proportions. But let’s not kid ourselves, either. We don’t need Trijicons to make this a Crusade in the eyes of Muslims OR some of our “Christian Soldiers.” It became one to them the day we invaded.

  14. Sean

    Trijicon will receive a slap on the wrist. Remember that public opinion forced our president, who is NOT Christian, to display a Christmas tree in public view. He also had to postpone a national address for a TV show. Boy, are we stupid.

  15. Lawrence

    We are losing the propaganda war, and badly. I just had a friend of mine come back from the ‘Stan & it is amazing how botched a job we are doing getting our message out to the people – then something like this comes up.

    It is hard enough to win the hearts and minds of the people over there as it is, this just makes it that much hard. Thanks folks.

  16. Joe

    Trijicon makes the Advance Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG) which is pretty much the standard optic on practically every soldier’s weapon (and has become popular in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series of first person shooters for you gamer kids). Replacing that many sights or sanding off something stamped or machined onto them would be a horendously expensive nightmare. This really is a mess.

  17. It’s not exactly the standard optic – it’s one of the “big three” – ACOG, Aimpoint, EOTech – but yes, it’s very prolific in military circles as well as law enforcement.

  18. @Daniel – Just to clarify a point, the actual verses are not on the scopes, but the reference to the verse. e.g. “JN8:12″

    True, and you are correct in pointing that out. It is possible that by doing so, the propaganda value may be diminished through relative obscurity. If the Al Qaeda recruiter has to walk someone through what could be seen as conspiracy theory, then their argument may not be as strong.

    On the other hand, according to How to Break a Terrorist, The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq by Matthew Alexander (very interesting book by the way), Iraq has a strong cultural affection for conspiracy theories. The propaganda value may actually be increased by making the verse apparently hidden.

    In either case, I stand by my earlier post that harsh language at least is deserved for Trijicon.

  19. Sir Craig

    Gus Snarp @ 7: As a military member it is clear to me that no matter what context, the commanders are obligated once they find out about proselytizing to investigate and act on the findings. These scopes are a clear violation of General Order One, found here.

    Furthermore, the possible damage caused by this revelation (no pun intended) goes beyond appearances to our friends and foes: As a secular progressive military member, were I to locate one of these scopes in my equipment I would immediately demand a new, unmarked scope. Forcing one’s religious views on anyone is reprehensible and I won’t stand for it. Unfortunately this could lead to internal tensions as a result, but I refuse to compromise my principles.

    The pure ignorance and arrogance of Trijicon is staggering and not only should the company be fined but they should be barred from ever entering into another federal contract.

  20. Peptron

    I would normally think this is not much of a deal, but considering the bigger context this is completely insane. US troops are in Afganistan to fight religious extremism, and to replace it with what? Religious extremism? Why fight this war at all then, just let the Taliban take control and invite them in the US so that they can be an inspiration for our leaders.

  21. @Sean:Remember that public opinion forced our president, who is NOT Christian, to display a Christmas tree in public view. He also had to postpone a national address for a TV show. Boy, are we stupid.

    Um last I checked, we’ve ONLY had Christian presidents.

    I find this disturbing. Even if you are Christian, the thought of placing peaceful bible inscriptions or references on something that clearly shows the person you are about to kill should be bothersome. Our soldiers need support, not stupidity like this.

  22. Sir Craig

    Vern @ 9: Do you have anything intelligent to say, or are you so thick that you fail to see the larger problem here?

  23. Darrell E

    The scopes in question do not have the actual quotes inscribed on them. They have codes that represent bible quotes on them, for example initials for the name of the book / gospel followed by numbers for chapter and verse.

    This situation really stinks. Propaganda is a very powerful tool for shaping peoples opinions and I think you give that aspect of this issue too little consideration. Not only does it help the US’s enemies, it is also one more thing that makes the US look like dangerous morons to the rest of the world. Like a nice big fat cherry on top of everything else.

    It is also another symptom of just how deeply entrenched the wackos are in our military and military contractors. We really need to clean house and get these wackos under control. I feel ashamed and disgusted that my country has such a problem with religious fundamentalists in our military in particular. These people have a mindset no different than a 12th century Crusader and should not be trusted to serve the best interests of our country.

  24. Peptron

    And besides… “killing for Jesus” strikes me as the ultimate in oxymoronism. I’m not Christian, but from my understanding of Jesus’ character, hatred and violence were not quite the values he seemed to be promoting.

  25. Daffy

    Given that defense contractors can pretty much do whatever they damn well please these days, I predict they will have no consequences for this whatsoever. None.

  26. Vern

    Who knighted you Sir Craig?

  27. Astro_Vet

    The fact of the matter is that the military is overrun with right-wing christian fundamentalists. For some reason, moderates and liberals feel less obligated to serve. So, the demographics for the US armed services are true-believer fundies and poor people wanting to pay for college or fast-track US citizenship. They’ll give Trijicon a minor slap on the wrist with a knowing wink and it will be business as usual.

  28. Robert E

    @Sean: “our president, who is NOT Christian”
    Really, when did Protestants stop being Christian?

    More to the point, the company should be forced to re-issue the scopes — without cost to the govt.

  29. Queen B

    I knighted Sir Craig

  30. Peter B

    Sean said, in part: “…our president, who is NOT Christian…”

    Really? What *do* you call a person who is a baptised member of the Trinity United Church of Christ and attends it for 20 years?

  31. @Sir Craig #22: Seems you have your answer.

  32. Ad Hominid

    It could get worse: Have any of these been passed along to allied Afghan or Iraqi forces? Imagine the reaction of Muslim soldiers when they learn their American-issued rifle scopes have Biblical references imprinted on them. Apparently these inscription were not meant to be a secret, but their unobtrusive placement will lead to that assumption, making the response worse still.

  33. Annalee Flower Horne

    Vern @9, I do believe in Jesus Christ, and if you really can’t see what the problem is, then you need to get your head out of Leviticus and read the parts of the bible that actually have to do with Christ’s life and teachings.

    If you still don’t get the point after that, I would suggest not reading the bible ever again, because you clearly don’t know how.

    So from a Christian perspective, Duh, and learn to read.

    From a civics perspective, a cursory glance at the United States Constitution might prove edifying. That would be the one that members of the armed forces swear to protect and defend when they enlist.

  34. Shoeshine Boy

    Phil. I agree with your statements, but am slightly unsettled & offended by the picture of Jesus with a rifle. But maybe that was your intention.

  35. Wesley Struebing

    @Robert E. and @Sean: Not to mention the Christmas tree is NOT of Christian origin. Sean, how many things can you get wrong in a three line post?

    Also Ivy Groves and Vern- read for content, and you’ll see several reasons why it a “big deal.”

  36. MadScientist

    There is no micrographia on the scopes. The scopes have references embossed such as JN8:12, not actual verses from the bible. Personally I was surprised to see them embossed rather than stamped but that does make it easier for people to remove it if they don’t want it. It’s still quite a bit of work to remove it from a scope and restore the scope’s surface finish. I suspect the markings will simply be left, although the various military customers may demand that future deliveries not have any markings except for the Federal Serial Number and any markings necessary for the operation of the device.

    @Robert E and Peter B: Well, duh, obviously the Prez isn’t christian. Nor are any catholics christian. Such are the beliefs of the sectarians; there is only one christian cult and it is their own.

  37. I laughed out loud at the ‘Jesus with a 30-30′ image!
    What a scream!
    Now the ad is for Vertex scopes! Too cool!

    At the very least Trijicon should:
    1. Apologize profusely and accept the federal fine/punishment with bowed heads.
    2. Provide unmarked scopes in large numbers to swap out the marked ones.
    3. Take the marked scopes and grind or mill the inscription off & repaint.
    4. Then they could re-sell the modified scopes to the military.
    5. Pray to their fickle god that they get to stay in business with the govt.

  38. DB

    @Vern, I do so believe in Johnny Carson

  39. Travis McDermott

    Phil wrote:

    I think Weinstein needs to take a look at Kansas, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and most recently Mississippi. Creationists make bigger violations than this over breakfast every day.

    Phil a creationist has never gotten anyone killed. Pulling crap like this puts servicemen and women in greater danger. The recruiting is just the least of it.

  40. BJN

    So Wiccans are idiots too. The military requisitions very specific hardware in precise detail, and vendors are not free to add verse citations, pentacles, or references to their favorite Star Wars episode.

  41. The thing that really upsets me about this is that it plays right into the Al Queda/Taliban propeganda war. It matters not a whitt what the intentions were of the manufacturers, but by doing this, they have further antagoized the population and provided ample “proff” that this is a holy war, and the xtians are out to force their religion on the peoples of the Stans.

    If anything, they are placing our troops in additional danger, since they will be highly sought after as targets in order to further gather this evidence.

    Way to go… I can only hope that these people are birght enough to see what they have done is not only wrong, but even unconstitutional. Maybe next time they will think more carefully before wiping their butts on the first amendment…

    P.S. I can confirm from first hand handling of said scopes, they are on the DoD versions, not just commercial versions.

    P.P.S. To people jumping on Sean #14, I think that was a bit of sarcasm and even some Poe. ;)

  42. JohnW

    I don’t see how it’s illegal if it doesn’t effect the function of the sights, or is in any way a violation of the Constitution.

    It is a pretty wierd thing to do, and dumb. I mean, on a rifle sight?! Wtf?

    It should not offend Muslims, though (of course it will be used to do so). They (are supposed to) revere Jesus as one of the holiest of prophets, and the Bible as a holy book.

  43. Wile the Sermon on the Mount might not’ve been about killing people, Matthew 10:34 is another matter.

  44. cj

    I’m curious why this is suddenly a big issue since Trijicon’s been doing this for THIRTY YEARS. But they do make some of the best darn optics out there, and I doubt anyone else could replace them anytime soon.

  45. Melissa

    wow. O.k.
    #1 – this is a Holy war from the Muslim perspective. They also respect Christians more than atheists or agnostics. They respect people of a belief because they can relate to that.
    #2 – Our men and women in the military are already targets – this wil not make them more of one.
    #3 – if this is such a military, government security issue then the media and all of us to need to shut up and quit feeding this info to the enemy!

  46. Dave

    Have you seen the poll results on the NY Daily News article?!?

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2010/01/19/2010-01-19_firm_takes_flak_for_rifle_scopes_with_bible_verse.html

    53% of the respondents say they are in FAVOR of the inscriptions! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I love America but am embarrassed beyond belief by Americans sometimes. Sheesh.

  47. Radwaste

    JN8:16? Well, if you follow that ACOG sight around, you’ve a much better chance of staying alive than if you didn’t.

    When do we tell the troops they can’t have American money over there?

  48. Vern

    Naked Bunny with a Whip: So, who did knight Sir Craig?

    Annalee Flower Horne: Whoa, get a life, babe.

  49. Sam

    I don’t know what was inscribed on any of the sights, and maybe I don’t fully understand the issue, but I don’t really care. From what I understand the inscriptions are really subtle and coded in some way so they are not immediately obvious.

    What if it was a quote from a different religious leader? What about from a philosopher? What about just any random quote? Even if you are not religious, Jesus seems somewhat quote worthy. I’m sure there are apt quotes you could put on the scopes from Islamic religious leaders. What about quotes from the founding fathers?

  50. Bravo33

    I am an atheist, an avid amateur astronomer and also a combat Veteran of the USMC. I am disturbed by several things in this article.

    First off, with all due respect to Phil, but what do you know of combat and facing potential death at the hands of an enemy that wants desperately to kill you?? I recall on many occasions, both training and in hostile combat zones, the Creator was invoked in various ways to calm edgy nerves and clear the mind before carrying out difficult tasks. There are no atheists in foxholes.

    Invoking the name of Jesus Christ before going into potential combat is grounds for having them removed from the combat zone? You are clearly uninformed on this matter and have no idea what you are talking about. You should stick to issuess where religion tries to interfere with Science. Don’t let your obvious dislike for Faith compel you to stick your Scientifically scrutinizing nose in the one area where Faith has a rightful place.

    Besides, I thought this was Bad Astronomy, not Bad Politics. Get back to debunking astronomy myths and misconceptions. Enlighten us, don’t give us your opinion.

  51. G Williams

    This was a pretty stupid move on the part of just about everyone involved.

    Trijicon makes absolutely fantastic sights, Eotech and Aimpoint (the other two members of the so-called ‘big three’) make pretty good sights too, but none of them have a product that can do what the ACOG does as well as the ACOG does it (although, not every soldier in Iraq/Afghanistan needs the particular capabilities of the ACOG)

    However, they’ve also been putting these references on their scopes since the company was founded, and afaik have made no secret of that fact (as is there constitutional right, no matter how wrong or misguided it may seem)
    The government in this case had a duty to ensure that the scopes they ordered fit within the requirements and regulations for military use.

    On the other hand, from what I’ve heard, many soldiers that were issued trijicon sights have reported that they do not have these references on them, so it may well be that the government ordered religion-free scopes, and a few religion-included scopes got mixed in, which would be trijicon’s fault, or the situation could be even more complicated.

    Without knowing the particulars of Tirjicon’s procurement contract, I can’t say who is really at fault here, though my instinct is that the U.S. military procurement system is already so FUBAR that it must be at fault here too. It wouldn’t surprise me int he least if some pentagon fluke just put in an order for the best rifle optics around and nobody every bothered to actually check them out in any kind of depth.

  52. K L

    “Unless I have grossly misinterpreted the Sermon on the Mount, I don’t think that’s exactly what Jesus had in mind.”

    Remember, you’re talking about Jesus, the guy who DIDN’T tell the soldiers to seek to leave the service but instead told them “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.” (Luke 3:14) Jesus wasn’t against military service or even armed conflict and (if one’s hermeneutic is such that the view the Bible as one book) his Father even commanded Israel to make war often. The Sermon on the Mount is specifically about “the kingdom of heaven” and personal relationships, not about countries engaging in battle.
    Perhaps next they should complain about the verse inscriptions on the In-and-out burger containers?

  53. Uh, Vern — ixnay on the condescending, sexist reference to Annalee. She’s not your babe. She’s an independent human being, not here for your sniggering reference. She’s also entitled to her opinion. Just as you are. Deal with it or go somewhere else. Oh, and read the rules of commenting here.

  54. G Williams @ 46:

    It’s just possible that the company never bothered to tell anybody that’s what this was (at least they may not have told the government buyers). It would be easy to assume it was a part number or something and perhaps a government buyer should have asked — if they’d known to look.

    But, the company is still the larger transgressor here. They are the ones putting the inscriptions on the parts — it’s their responsibility to make sure it’s okay to do so. Instead, they insist on shoveling their religious hooey on soldiers who may or may not be part of their cult, and thus putting them in danger.

    So much for supporting the troops.

    And hey, speaking of religious nuttery — did you read today about the group that wants to send solar-powered Bibles to the people in Haiti? wonder how tasty and nutritious those things are.

  55. Calli Arcale

    Whether or not it’s legal may hinge on whether Trijicon developed the scopes under contract to the Army on developed them independently. If it’s the former, the government absolutely has the right to order them changed, though it may be obliged to pay Trijicon to do it. (Forget the religious side; this would be analogous to messing up some less important spec but the program office not noticing and accepting the non-compliant product for several years. In that situation, because the program office has accepted it, likely for multiple revisions, there will be negotiations required to sort out who pays. Probably it’ll be shared.) Alternately, if Trijicon were not cooperative, it might be grounds for revoking the contract and giving it to another company. In this situation, the government would have unlimited rights to the design data behind the scopes and would be able to provide that data to a third party. It’s nasty, and it’s sure to leave bad feelings, but it does sometimes happen.

    But if Trijicon developed the scopes independently, they can tell the Army to go suck an egg if they want. They will risk offending the contract folks on the Army side, which would threaten the ability to win future contracts, but they would be within their rights to do that. At that point, the Army would be in a bit of a bind, as they’d have to figure out what to do — they can’t just stop using the scopes, as they’re very useful, and it’s probably not going to be simple to find another vendor. If a comparable vendor even exists.

    My suspicion is that the scopes are mixed funding, so, technical data is furnished under special purpose rights negotiated with the program office. Likely they developed their own, proprietary scope technology and then negotiated with the military to adapt it to the Army’s equipment. In which case, they still have something to lose: if this product has been modified to be specific to the US Army, then they can’t just sell any remaining scopes on the civilian market. They’d have to shut down the production line. It would cost them a lot of money, and they’d probably have to downsize; even if it proves not terribly expensive to switch to a commercial product model, there just aren’t as many civilian customers as military ones. And their product is likely ITAR controlled, so they’d be stuck selling it only to American consumers.

  56. Phil, that picture of Jesus with the rifle does not have a “father” in the sense that you and I understand.

  57. DemetriosX

    There are a lot of disturbing aspects to this. Most importantly and connected to those commanders who were quoted about the “transformed” rifles is the efforts by some Dominionist groups to evangelize the military and make it into an army of God. This is especially problematic in the Air Force and these groups are very active in Colorado Springs. In fact, Weinstein’s group was founded to confront these people.

    As others have noted, the political ramifications in the Middle East are also enormous. In any case, Trijicon needs to be heavily sanctioned. If there are other sources for reliable scopes, then the contract should be voided and Trijicon forever banned as a supplier.

    As for Weinstein’s comments about the seriousness of this and Phil’s counter with Nebraska, Texas, et al., it should be noted that the creationists are working at the state and local level. This is at the national level and thus can be seen as more serious.

    Finally, Thomas Siefert @41: Beat Farmers! W00T! Greatest bar band of all time.

  58. Bravo 33 (#51): Why do I have to have fought in combat to know what’s illegal?

    Second, you claim to be an atheist but say there are no atheists in foxholes? Really?

    Third, what does this have to do with peoples’ faith while fighting? Nothing at all. Let them pray and invoke whomever or whatever they want when fighting. That’s up to them. But this is about a clear violation of federal law.

    Fourth, it’s my blog. You may want to read this before commenting again.

  59. Joe Alvord

    Travis..
    “Phil a creationist has never gotten anyone killed. Pulling crap like this puts servicemen and women in greater danger. The recruiting is just the least of it.”

    Dr Tiller might disagree, if he were able.

  60. RV

    Honestly, it’s Michigan. This is probably one of the more subtle, less insane, religiously themed instances of the Michigan mindset. No joke.

    Michigan is crazy like that… err, well, extremely religious people are crazy like that… Michigan is crazy like that.

  61. Vern

    ccpetersen: What about Annalee’s comment “Duh, and learn to read”. I guess it’s OK to be condescending when it’s an opinion you agree with!

  62. TheSlat

    I am in the field instructing for the military and as soon as I saw this I went over and checked all the ACOGs, and sure enough there it is “JN8:12″ at the end of a longer number embossed on the top right under the scope body on every one. I never noticed before as it’s not in the actual serial number. It would be easy to remove with a Dremel or some other such tool but what many aren’t mentioning is that there is a lot of bureaucracy when it comes to modifying guns or anything that attaches to them. that is a BIG no no, without permission from armorers and whoever else has their hands in cookie jar all the way up the chain (of armorers).

    @KL: I immediately thought of In-N-Out but this is way, way different. I love In-N-Out and could care less about the inscriptions. I am an atheist in the military but it’s not even my lack of belief that makes this a huge problem. It’s on a weapon, used by US forces in a Islamic country where we are fighting an insurgency. An insurgency that tries to paint us as crusaders. So to everyone else on here that thinks this isn’t an issue go read a COIN manual and and think again. Perception is reality and this is another in a long list of failures on that front.

  63. Jon Brooks

    Oh Gee Golly Whiz!! We sure don’t want to get the enemy mad at us now do we? We must become good dhimmis and please our future Islamic masters. I think we should put a few good biblical references on a few Mark 82′s also. If you have to worry about peoples hearts and minds being changed by a book they basically detest anyways, then you my friends, not them, have a problem. I think all the scopes should have the inscription: “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for I am the meanest son of a b**ch in the valley”.

  64. TheSlat

    @Bravo33
    “There are no atheists in foxholes.” Really? Cause I have been in a LOT of foxholes.

    also refer to my last post and then you may learn the difference between someone praying before going into harms way and religious anything being stamped wholesale onto weapons.

  65. Jenkins

    Bravo33: Phil went off the cliff a while ago with his secular-than-thou attitude. I’m sure he reads the comment section with a smirk on his face every time he makes a post slamming anything about religion. I find the head nodding pretty nauseating, as some people can’t understand that Atheism!=intelligence.

    Skip the religious and political posts and stick to the astronomy ones. Only thing worth reading on this blog.

  66. Seriously, you may find plenty of atheists in foxholes; it’s a good position from which to fire.

  67. Melissa

    @TheSlat – does putting out this type of info to the enemy cause any harm? Would it have been better to let the military deal with this internally?

  68. Utakata

    Oh dear…it looks like we have a troll named Vern, whose neck has been a bit too much in the sun. But I digress…

    We seem to be fighting over what’s written in a device that helps to kill people better…I think that in itself should be disturbing enough.

  69. SinisterBill

    I don’t think this is that big a deal, plus I have to admit I smiled at the thought of the last thing going through a terrorists head is a bullet fired from a gun with scripture on it.

    They need to stop it of course and probably figure out how to remove the ones that are there but seriously, there are bigger fish to fry than this.

    Besides, biblical text really belongs on the bullet not the gun.

  70. Sean H

    (I’m not the guy who just claimed Obama isn’t a christian btw). I’d put more faith on my armor or my weapon than on god on any given day.

    @Utakata: The term redneck has more to do with Unionizing coalminers wearing red bandanas at a battle vs. West virgina mining investigators.

  71. Travis

    Someone who supports the Taliban is already a murderous psychopath. Such people will never see reason or stop their vile ways so I’m inclined to think this is not that big of a deal.

    Are all the verses New Testament? If some are from the Old there is likely a Qur’an equivalent which would be kinda funny.

  72. I don’t think the parts have to be re-issued or have the Bible references taken off. They are so inconspicuous that they look like just part of the serial numbers. It would be too much of a bother.
    However, I do think that the company shouldn’t put any more Bible references on their parts.

  73. TheSlat

    @ Melissa: Sure. The damage is long term and a little intangible but it is there. The worry is not about “pissing off the enemy”. The concern is about pissing off the populace that feeds, hides, and reinforces the “enemy”. All it takes is some teenager with a chip on his shoulder to see this and he is an easy mark for a recruiter. Will this faux pas recruit 1? 5? 50? does it really matter? We all know how much damage one person can do. What exactly does this do to benefit the effort? does it gain anything?? Is it worth bogging down security forces (including US) with an increase in low level thugs when they could be chasing down the big fish? Is it worth even one suicide vest going off at a US checkpoint? Is it worth that pissed off teen getting shot because he agreed to dig a hole on the side of the road for $50? How about the mental health of the US kid that had to shoot him? There are costs and sacrifices to be made, I know that more than anyone. But why pay out when there is no benefit? This may seem trivial and insignificant on the surface but it is fundamentally against what is taught… And this goes way beyond my belief (or lack thereof). It irritates me more on a “keep my men alive” level.

    (I put enemy in quotes because it seems that many think we are fighting a evil horde, not insurgents made up of 5% hard core terrorists and 95% impressionable men and women)

  74. Melissa

    @TheSlat – Thanks. I am an Army Vet, but I never served in combat so I really have no idea what goes on mentally. Wars are ugly enough and religious wars are the worst. Thank you for your service to our country and take care!

  75. DLC

    Sorry, but I’m not seeing any “Clear violation of federal law” here.
    The makers could claim that it’s part of their trademark, and so protected.
    As a potential remedy,the government could revise the contract with them to insist that no such markings be included in further purchases, but don’t expect any great mea culpa from Trijicon.
    For Callie Arcale @ 57: Trijicon has been in the business of making optical sights for a couple decades. The ACOG sight is not new technology developed for the army, but developed by the company as proprietary technology.

  76. Pete

    Personally, I’m offended that a military contractor thought it ok to add something not in the spec to a piece of equipment. Suppose this additional embossing led to excess corrosion, or higher reflectivity, or some other thing that lessened the effectiveness of that weapon? Would that contractor be willing to pay reparations to those harmed by this failing?

  77. Sigh, another astronomy-free day on Bad Astronomy.

  78. PeteC

    Would those who think this is OK really be fine with it if it was a different religion? Say, a quote from the Koran referring to how it is wrong to kill a true follower of Islam? Or maybe a link to something that states “We fight and kill in Satan’s name!” ? Honestly? Or is it only all right if it’s the right particular brand of Christianity?

    Somehow I suspect it would all be wrong then.

    That’s the problem with a lot of these people. They start with the total certainty that their faith, with all its issues, is the one true totally correct one. When you start with that, I guess it’s understandable that things like this – or even out-and-out crusades, pogroms and inquisitions to destroy the infidel, the unbeliever, the heretic – don’t seem like a problem. When your world view is “We are right and we are always right and we can’t do wrong and we’re on the correct team so what we do is by definition right and everyone else is wrong and evil” then you can’t expect anything else. It’s the same mindset the Taliban have.

    Sometimes I suspect that a few hundred years from now this will be regarded as yet another one of those idiotic religious wars, lumped in with the Hugenots, the Thirty Years War, the Crusades and all the rest. And when I get to my very worst level of cynicism, I sometimes wish that Christians would go back to their proper and favourite type of war, the one against the heretics who claim to be Christian but belong to the wrong type of Christianity, those foul heretics, and leave the rest of us alone.

  79. Chip

    @ 51: Bravo33 –
    If you want to toss out anecdotes – before combat some religious soldiers pray and that’s their business but medics and doctors over the years have noticed that the most often spoken name by wounded soldiers since WWII is not “Jesus Christ” which is very far down on the list. It is usually, much to the surprise of the soldier “Mother” or “Mom”, as well as “God” followed by various common obscenities.

    Also, let’s finish that quote: “There are no atheists in foxholes” – “and no believers in concentration camps.”

    Putting religious references on weapons is despicable on many levels. It insults our potential allies and our own troops. It is truly un-American as well as a violation of law.

  80. DLC @74, I’m not so sure that you can use public domain material (which Bible verses are) in a trademark. IANAL, but just happened to be reading about trademark today for another reason, and there were some references to using PD material in trademark as grounds for rejection of a trademark. Pretty thin ground the company would be on if they tried to insist that it was part of their trademark.

    VERN, clearly you do need to read with comprehension — and the suggestion that you do so is no excuse to turn around patronize and demean and sexually insult another commenter. Again, read the rules for posting here. You’re a guest here. As am I.

  81. DisGRUNTled

    For some reason I really doubt Bravo33, ( I’m assuming you were in B co 3/3 out of Kbay, I was in B co 1/3 in addition to several other units) is an atheist as he says.

    If people want to invoke Jebus’s name before combat there is nothing wrong with that, its when they force others to do it is when there is a problem, its also a problem when a company covertly imprints this stuff on to issued gear where one doesn’t have a choice in it. I know our armorers wouldn’t let us turn in gear we were never going to use or didn’t want to use. I can’t say for 3/3 though.

    I would have liked to grind it off of the sight myself, but the gov’t has this thing about damaging gov’t property and they like to take it out of our paychecks which is paid by us and civilians.

  82. DisGRUNTled

    DLC @ 74 Trijicon made the Acog as proprietary technology however the RCO, which is more common in the USMC, was made specifically by request from the military because the sights on the Acog lined up with the M4′s bullet trajectory but not the M16a4′s trajectory. Most people still call it an ACOG even though its an RCO.

  83. Utakata

    @ #73, Sean H

    You know as well I do, that’s is not how that is interprated today. :)

    @ #80, Tim Bennett

    Sometimes, the down to Earth stuff is just as interesting if not important. Especially if happens to about certain influential interest groups with certain ideas that may turn us away from looking at the sky because it questions what they believe too much.

  84. Troy

    I don’t mind the site going non-astronomy occasionally…
    It is too bad this couldn’t be settled quietly, because it can make it look like a “crusade” and play into the recruitment propaganda of al quada and the like . Gun sights aren’t always used to kill people many people use them for target practice or maybe hunting, so I don’t think it is necessarily a contradiction. (Maybe instead of bible verses WWJS– “what would Jesus shoot”) All the verses seem to be more evangelistic, I mean how about some gnarly Bible verses. I’m thinking in the vein of the Bhagavad Gita’s “I have become death, the shatterer of worlds”. Maybe instead of moving piles of dirt back and forth for punishment they can punish errant grunts with removing bible verses form gun sights.

  85. DisGRUNTled

    Lets just replace the red triangles inside the sights with scarlet A’s

  86. Bruce

    1. Trijicon has been doing this for years. Why didn’t the military complain before contracting with them?

    2. How does this violate the Constitution? “Separation of Church and State?” That’s not in the Constitution. It was from a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote, not the Constitution.

    3. The scopes amplify the incoming light. If you read the referenced bible quotes (wear gloves Phil, so you won’t burn your hands) you’ll see they refer to LIGHT.

    4. Scrape off the inscriptions? Of course, suppress any opinion that you don’t agree with. Remember that the next time the antivaxxers do it.

    5. Publicly humiliate the company? Nice. They make equipment that helps our troops fight for our freedom. Remember that while you’re writing your next blog entry, and thank our troops for your freedom to do that.

    It’s fine if you’re not religious, but your animosity towards people who are religious is just pathetic.

  87. Astrofiend

    Holy shizzle – Only in America could you have people scribing Biblical quotes attributed to Jesus on guns, have the owner of the company who does so claim that it abides by a strict moral religious code based on the Bible (as written on their website), and do all this while maintaining a straight face. Good one you knobs! I have a hard time believing that Jesus would endorse a product designed to increase the ease with which one person can murder another person.

    Man fundamentalists are freaks. How did this happen to you America? How is it possible that the greatest nation on Earth is also one in which BS not only survives, but THRIVES? Fundamentalists are literally laughed out of town in Australia.

  88. ratelmotel

    Bruce @89 — so, as those New Testament verses refer to light, they’re really just there as a magical charm, a little publicly-funded rabbit’s foot for the troops, then?

    The Christian I know best is really upset about all this, being a pastor interested in Jesus’ message of nonviolence and so forth. Personally, I’m just glad I didn’t reenlist.

  89. Charlie Young

    Still getting many a gun sight ad at the top…

  90. DisGRUNTled

    Bruce @ 89:

    1. Trijicon may have been doing this for years, but that doesn’t mean everyone was aware of it, ESPECIALLY if they don’t come right out and say ” hey our sights have bible enscriptions on them”

    3: The scopes do not amplify light, part of the scope is amplified by light but the scope is self does not amplify light

    4. I should be allowed to scrape off the inscriptions but I’m not, in addition I’m not allowed to turn it into the armory and use iron sights, if I so choose, so there for I am being forced to carry around someone elses religious belief, sounds kinda similar to imposing your religious belief on someone doesn’t it, oh wait, that’s because it IS.

  91. Sir Craig

    Bruce @ 89:

    1. Trijicon has been doing this for years. Why didn’t the military complain before contracting with them?


    Because the military knew nothing about it – Trijicon concealed this info from them, disguising the bible references alongside identification numbers.


    2. How does this violate the Constitution? “Separation of Church and State?” That’s not in the Constitution. It was from a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote, not the Constitution.


    It may not be a violation of the Constitution per se, but it is a violation of General Order One which applies to the military.


    3. The scopes amplify the incoming light. If you read the referenced bible quotes (wear gloves Phil, so you won’t burn your hands) you’ll see they refer to LIGHT.


    I couldn’t care less if it quoted an obscure passage in Leviticus about controlled breathing while aiming, it is still inappropriate. (And because you feel the need to try and demean Phil: Idiot.)


    4. Scrape off the inscriptions? Of course, suppress any opinion that you don’t agree with. Remember that the next time the antivaxxers do it.


    What would your reaction be if a Wiccan company won the contract for producing uniforms (ABUs/DCUs, etc.) and insisted on hiding symbols within the camo pattern? It’s clear you’ve never been in the military, because the first things you learn in basic are opinions are not encouraged and free speech does not exist: We gave those up when we raised our hands and took the oath. (And bible verses are not ‘opinion’.)


    5. Publicly humiliate the company? Nice. They make equipment that helps our troops fight for our freedom. Remember that while you’re writing your next blog entry, and thank our troops for your freedom to do that.


    Nice appeal to emotion. As an active duty service member I’m not feeling terribly offended by Phil publicly pointing out a wrong done quietly by those who would insist they have some special right to force their opinions onto others.


    It’s fine if you’re not religious, but your animosity towards people who are religious is just pathetic.


    Fail.

  92. Bruce (#89): Maybe before you post such vitriol, you could, y’know, read what I wrote. Like where I said apparently the military didn’t know about the inscriptions? That’s right there in the second paragraph I wrote.

    Or, like the several times I mention that this whole thing is a violation of the law. Remember that part? Or the part where I said that this is not a big violation of the 1st Amendment by the military as a whole (though certainly it is by the officers)?

    Hmm, I don’t remember saying I wanted to suppress opinions I don’t agree with. Care to back that statement up? And mind you, I disagree quite completely with everything you said in your comment, but let you post it.

    And yes, if the company did this knowingly they need to be publicly outed for it. Maybe you think any company that does something good for our troops should be beyond reproach, but here’s a word you may not know: Halliburton. You might want to google it.

    And about my animosity toward people who are religious… care to back that statement up as well? Because it’s not true. I fight against people who try to ram their religion down the throat of others, or who use it to suppress whole populations or genders or races… or who hide behind it when they say hateful, loathsome things.

    So, I don’t see a single thing you said in your comment that even comes close to being correct.

  93. @Bravo33

    Your post sounds like one of those “I’m an athiest but…” posts that eventually reveals itself not to be an atheist at all, but an evangelical trying to show the weak position of atheism. And they never work.

    Faith doesn’t deserve a special exemption on the battlefield. Faith deprives you of reason and accountability. If you’re doing things that require that, you have faith in the wrong things.

    As for Phil’s opinions. It’s his blog, not “Phil’s Page of Nothing But Astronomy”. It has an Astronomy theme. But he is not limited to that topic.

    Here’s a little ditty I posted on Pharyngula, just for the faithful:

    Our native sons with Jesus guns,
    Shout ‘Rangers lead the way!’,
    Unleashed upon the Middle East,
    To bring the last Crusade.

    The Book in hand, you ask a man,
    To ‘Be All You Can Be’,
    while Jesus waits behind the gates,
    The good word’s ‘Weapons Free!’

    The Christian right demands you fight,
    And none shall spare the rod,
    When Rapture comes, the biggest guns,
    Will bring us near to ‘God’.

    It’s scary to think that a desert death cult has risen to infiltrate the ranks of the most powerful army on the planet. I’m not okay with that. I would hope that any rational person would feel the same.

  94. Laen

    Just another active duty soldier perfectly willing to publicly humiliate a company that makes my job harder to do. Love the ACOG, don’t need it with bible verses on it. I have better things to be doing than explaining why our government equipment has bible verses on it, but I’m not some kind of crusader.

    P.S. You might be right about the foxholes, I can’t remember the last time I saw one. Now atheist’s on patrol are all over the place.

  95. TheSlat

    Sir Craig @ 94
    Well done, I was about to respond to ol’ Bruce but I could’t have said it better myself.
    I especially hate #5. I get this icky feeling when people use me as an appeal to emotion and/or to defend some sort of bull-crap. Leave me out of it please, or at least read what most of the actual service members have been saying before you! (see #10, #64, #84, #94).

  96. Laen (#97): If I did a Comment of the Week, you’d win. Well done, and thank you for your service to your country and its citizens.

  97. Mark Hansen

    Hey, Tim @ #80, I didn’t see you cheer for an astronomy rich day yesterday. Go look around; it’s not like this is the only subject on this blog or the only blog on the net. To paraphrase Phil’s paraphrasing “If the BA’s blog offends thee, pluck it out of thine favorites“.

  98. Bruce

    @Phil (#95):

    Why didn’t the military just look? From the uproar this has caused it seems like the inscriptions are plain-as-day.

    Exactly what laws were violated? You mentioned the Establishment Clause (See? I did read it.) But that states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Trijicon is not Congress. There is no violation here, direct or indirect.

    What would be the point of scraping off the inscriptions other than you don’t agree with them? You’re obviously offended and your solution is to remove the thing that offends you. How about leaving it up to the soldiers that are actually using these scopes? Maybe they don’t mind the inscriptions. If they do mind, they can scrape it away.

    And how can you equate Halliburton’s actions to any of this? It’s a few letters and numbers referring to some bible passages. That’s it.

  99. Stanley Tweedle

    “Lord! I see demons!”

    LOL

  100. Buzz Parsec

    Maybe some military contractors need to read up on the Indian mutiny of 1857, aka the Sepoy Mutiny. Stuff like this matters.

  101. DisGRUNTled

    Bruce @ 101

    I’ve said this a few times on this blog and on others to those who have said why don’t the ones who are offended just scrape it of.

    WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO! ITS DAMAGING GOVERNMENT PROPERTY. WHEN YOU DAMAGE GOVERNMENT PROPERTY INTENTIONALLY (and occasionally unintentionally) YOU HAVE TO REPAY THE GOVERNMENT TO REPLACE IT. IT COMES FROM OUR PAYCHECKS ( Servicemen’s) WHICH IS PAID NOT ONLY BY OUR SELVES BUT ALSO CIVILIANS WHO ALSO PAY TAXES.

    Maybe the caps locks will get through that thick skull of yours but for some reason I doubt it will.

  102. Bruce

    @Mark (#100):

    I think you’ve summed up the problem with a lot of people on this blog: “If the BA’s blog offends thee, pluck it out of thine favorites.” Every now and then I’m irked by things on this blog, like this whole entry. Yet I’m still open-minded enough to realize that many people out there don’t agree with me. But that’s no reason to get offended or to stop reading. To quote the song “You Can’t Bring Me Down”: “If I offended you, well I’m sorry but maybe you need to be offended.”

  103. Alareth

    This sounds like a job for Dremel!

  104. Bruce

    @ DisGRUNTled (#104):

    Why are you yelling at me? The whole scraping-off thing was Phil’s idea.

  105. DisGRUNTled

    I mentioned we aren’t allowed to at # 84, then again at #93 and finally at #104, but you brought up scraping it off after #84, then again after #93 so I figured maybe #104 would get your attention. Phil only brought it up once, in his original post and has not brought it up again, it would be safe to assume he understands we can not scrape it off as much as some of us would like to.

  106. I was trying to stay out of this one, but this one took the cake:

    They make equipment that helps our troops fight for our freedom. Remember that while you’re writing your next blog entry, and thank our troops for your freedom to do that.

    Sorry, but our freedom is granted us by our constitution, not our military. Big difference.

    And no, the war in Iraq was not waged to preserve our constitution. Iraq did not threaten it, did not attack it, did not have the capability to do either. Besides, we seem quite content to do the job ourselves.

  107. Bruce (#101), I also wrote that proselytizing to the citizens in Iraq and Afghanistan is forbidden. That’s also mentioned in the ABC News article. I do have a problem with this even if it weren’t illegal — it’s a terrible idea — but since it is illegal, something must be done. I made a pretty big point of that in the post.

    And again, I said that the military did not violate the Constitution, it was specific soldiers who knew about the inscriptions who violated it.

    You claim you read what I wrote, but you seemed to have missed every point I was making.

  108. Inertially Guided

    WOW…I’ve been looking thru those sights for years and seeing those inscriptions and NEVER knew what they meant–always figured they were a designation for the scope or maybe the type of glass. Un-real…next time I go to the range I’ll pay more attention!

  109. Nathan

    Speaking as a Veteran of the war in Iraq, and a non-christian. This really rankles. In fact, it maddens. I want to club Trijicon over the head. But that’s an emotional reaction. I completely agree with the blogger. Rake Trijicon over the coals. Religious fundamentalism is dangerous, in any form, and we cannot afford to support it. Make them fools. I also agree that the absolute, last thing we need in a country rife with reasons to hate us is a bunch of religious nutjobs on our side. The leaders that knew and did nothing are negligent at best, the one responsible for referring to the weapon publicly as “…spiritually transformed firearm[s] of Jesus Christ.” make me sick. They are an embarrassment to the uniform, and should definitely be relieved of command. They are probably in violation of their contract with the US military themselves if they are officers, and subject to serious disciplinary measures under the UCMJ if they are NCO’s. So, I’m with you, blogger. We should make them very clearly aware that this is not the way we do things.

  110. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ 96. Mike Wagner :

    Great little ditty there – I like to suggest you put it on Utube with video & music. :-)

    Generally I agree with the BA here. However, a few points to consider :

    (Sort of playing devils advocate here to some extent.)

    1. Haven’t soldiers, air force & navy people been painting slogans on bombs and their planes and having figureheads on ships and stuff like that since, well forever? Is doing this really all that different as a sort of personal message from the soldier / manufacturer / folks at home to their enemy? Of course these slogans etc .. aren’t *always* or even usually religious unless you count things like, eg., “Go to hell Saddam!” or suchlike as that – but some are.

    A near-naked lady painted on the front of bomb-carrying plane* is probably just as offensive in the Jihadists eyes, perhaps even more so than a coded religious reference. Maybe? Or is it? I don’t know.

    —————————————————————————————
    * Such as the one on the Enola Gay. Do US pilots still do that?
    —————————————————————————————

    2. Do rifles & military gear have company logos and names embossed or engraved or displayed on them? If so, how is this practice by Trijicon that different to having their logo on it – aside from the religious aspect and the sensitivities involved? If its Trijicon’s way of “initialing” their product and part of their company philosophy like say, a monks logo on a pasta product, is it really a case of imposing religion or just distinguishing themselves as being *them*?

    Again, I’m not sure here but I don’t think a subtle coded reference that has been hitherto totally overlooked is anything like the same as, say, foisting the Bible on a science class or having interrogators desecrate the koran in front of captured Jihadists.

    3. If this gives some soldiers a bit of “superstitious” confidence and makes them feel better and that they have an “edge” – even if it is an illusory one – then could it be a positive thing? Of course, the pyschology of it perhaps giving extra confidence – warranted or not – to our troops & possibly creating extra fear (or perhaps resolve?) in our enemies is likely a lot more complicated than just that & will depend on the individual. Still if it helps ease the nerves and pyschologically aid some of our troops who are after all fighting for their lives and our freedom there is it really so bad?

    And if it does (hypothetically speaking but probably also in practice) help some of our troops fight better – for our sakes and our way of life – who are we really to take that “edge” away from them?

    The Jihadists already view this as a religious war, a Christian crusade against Islam. This doesn’t help & tends to confirm the Jihadists perception but I’m not sure that it does all that much damage either. They already hate us so badly its hard to see how they can hate us much more – sadly that also goes for all too many of the locals whose hearts & minds we’re trying to win. I can’t see the slight extra push that the propaganda this gives the Jihadists having too much impact & certainly not when compared with “collateral damage” consequences and negative experiences and the local Mullahs preachings anyhow.

    Still, all considered, I do think this “Bible ref in the gun” idea is pretty dumb from where I sit – but then I am sitting at home & not fighting a war.

    Sadly I think the more publicity this gets the more likely it is the enemy will exploit this issue and for that reason we may want to downplay this and keep it quiet – although it may be too late for that now. :-(

  111. badnicolez

    Thanks to ABC News for giving the enemy additional propaganda fodder.

    Nothing they haven’t done many times before, I’m sure.

  112. Aiding and abetting the enemy.

    Didn’t they used to shoot people for that?

  113. Jya Jar Binks Killer

    @ 55. Chris A. Says:

    I think this T-shirt says it best: usual web address starter stampandshout “dot” com / Shop / Item / T-Shirts / when-jesus-said

    Maybe Jeebus meant “Love thy enemy” as advocating necrophilia after you’ve killed them? Or maybe it was his advice on what to do to their captured, weeping widows and daughters? ;-)

    At least I can see the nutjob “literalist” fundies interpreting it that way. :-(

    Of course we know that “do unto others” is interpreted as having the extra clause “but do it first!” don’t we?

    And “do not kill” means “only kill the heathen unbelievers & abortion doctors, oh maybe those evil folks choosing teh Ghay” or at leats the Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell followers of “Christ” will likely say so. :roll:

    As has been pointed out, these people already really hate us for a whole load of reasons so, heck, what’s one more excuse for their hatred? Why not, throw it on the 1,001 Reasons to hate teh Grate Satan West pile.

    Winning hearts and minds? Whats the idea of that game again – carve them out still beating from their broken bodies & collect as many as possible?

    (Apologies for the possibly offensive, twisted gallows humour but .. sheesh.)

  114. Flying sardines

    Reminds me of another T-shirt slogan I saw a while ago that read something like:

    God said it?

    You interpreted it!

    No, that doesn’t exactly settle it. ;-)

  115. DigitalAxis

    @Bruce:

    I believe the common thread that combines Phil’s outrage over this incident, and his outrage against antivaxxers, is that people are using their beliefs in ways that can hurt other people.

    These imprints will, especially now that everyone knows about it, drum up support for our enemies and further convince them that this is a religious war; net result=bad for our troops. It also makes it look like the US government via the US Military is (however unintentionally) endorsing Christianity, in violation of the commonly-held meaning of the establishment clause of Article 1, and General Order 1b 2 k. (To say nothing of the general hypocrisy of putting a scriptural quotation from a supposedly peaceful religion on a gunsight).

    Meanwhile, the Antivaxxers are, by application of their disproved beliefs that vaccines are deadly, hurting people by destroying herd immunity and putting sections of society at risk; net result=bad for the general public.

    Finally, Creationists are also trying to violate the commonly accepted meaning of the establishment clause, as well as stifle all kinds of curiosity and advancement of society by trying to ignore scientific discoveries in favor of “God did it”.
    As a scientist, Phil also has a personal stake in open inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge. I suppose one could still argue whether a scientist not being allowed to teach what they think they know is equivalent to an antivaxxer not being allowed to teach what they think they know. Some religious people seem to believe scientific ideas are at least as dangerous…

    I guess Phil’s perpetual amusement over paradoelia doesn’t exactly fit the pattern, but I’ve always thought he was more amused than angry.

  116. Dr Cy Coe in NL

    Jenkins 67: “Skip the religious and political posts and stick to the astronomy ones. Only thing worth reading on this blog.”

    You seem to be addressing yourself there.
    Nobody forced you to click on this article, read it and the N replies underneath it.

  117. Dr Cy Coe in NL

    kuhnigget 109 : “Sorry, but our freedom is granted us by our constitution, not our military. Big difference. ”

    I realise I’ve taken this single line out of your post which puts it somewhat out of context. Be that as it may, without the military, your constitution is a piece of paper. The rights, or rather the priviliges in it, were acquired by force (name me seven constitutional countries for which this isn’t true :) ) and the price of those priviliges is eternal vigilance.

    While I don’t agree with the sentiment behind Bruce’s post, your inference that freedom can be maintained by ink is no less moronic than Bruce’s 5 points. You owe your liberties in a large part to men and women who have risked it all and to those who still do.

  118. I actually got a Google ad for Trijicon scopes below the RSS feed item..oh the irony. Didn’t say if they come inscribed, though.

  119. @Dr Cy Coe in NL
    name me seven constitutional countries for which this isn’t true
    Australia
    Canada
    New Zealand
    South Africa
    Russia (the fall of communism)
    Poland
    Czech Republic
    Slovakia
    Malta

    Just a slight quibble with assertion that the military grant you freedom – that would make you a military dictatorship. Your constitution limits the power of the military domestically I believe. Their job is to defend the constitution.

  120. Lawrence

    I would hope that we are trying to win this war by convincing not only the people of Iraq, Afghanistan & the rest of the Muslim world that terrorism is bad, we hold the moral high ground & ultimately, peace & prosperity is in their best interest…..

    Instead, it seems like some people want to treat this as a “crusade” and win by killing just about everyone & everything that they disagree with (burning down the village in an attempt to save it).

    If we don’t get our heads out of our collective “butts” & realize that pure military power isn’t the answer (how can you win when you need to use millions of dollars of high tech equipment to kill a few guys carrying $100 Kalashnikovs?). Our message is getting lost here – and we will lose (and lots more valiant young men and women are going to get killed as a result) unless we can turn this thing around and start getting back to winning the hearts and minds of the people.

    Giving our enemies more ammunition, in the form of these scopes – isn’t helping.

  121. TW

    >>Trijicon, on the other hand, really screwed this up. They put the U. S. government in a bind here, both financially and perceptually. Whether they did this knowing it would violate U.S. laws or not, they need to be fined at the very least, and publicly humiliated as well.<<

    What trijicon did may be silly, but it was not illegal. Why should they be fined?

    It is their product, they have the right to put whatever they want on it. If you (or the military) dont like it, dont buy from them.

    But that would really screw over the troops, since ACOGs are terrific force multipliers.

    I also doubt that it violates anti-proselytizing orders.

  122. I’ve read most of the comments here. (Okay so I skimmed a few) and I’m seeing a lot of what I think are problematic assertions being made both by people who are in the “no big deal” camps and the opposed. That said, there are many more from the “no big deal” camp.

    Listen (Read?), I know a lot of Muslim fundamentalists personally. Trust me when I say that they don’t spend every waking moment hating America. It is not possible for a large number of people to be that obsessed. What keeps American [perceived or otherwise] misdeeds in the popular consciousness are the myriad little boosts like this one. Like it or not, and I’m firmly in the “not” category: Iraq and Afghanistan, while still prominent in the news have become background noise. The sad fact is that no matter where in the world you are, the mortality reports out of Iraq and Afghanistan have become unremarkable for most people with no family or friends there.

    As for the assertion made by some that we should just keep the cat in the bag, so to speak, so as “not to embolden the enemy”. I’d like to point out something- there are people who do journalism who are not American. Just because one news network picks up a story, it doesn’t mean that no one else would have- just the opposite, it means it was only a matter of time. It wasn’t exactly a state secret, and sooner or later, the truth comes out. Just ask the CIA.

    Is this a violation of The Constitution? IANAL, but I don’t think so, simply because the military was unaware (at least at the top) and the company is not obligated to avoid endorsing a particular religion- at least not by The Constitution. That said, contract law still applies. If the scopes were not in keeping with the specs, then the military doesn’t have to withdraw anything, they just need to force them to honor the contract, and if the company refuses, the courts will provide recourse.

    Should the military continue using the scopes? I think they should start phasing them out immediately, but the damage is already done. Telling people that you promise you’ll only kill them without sectarian religious invocations isn’t a particularly compelling way to endear anyone to your cause.

    Do I get on my soapbox now and discuss the complete futility and destructive nature of military action in the phony “War on Terr’,” which has been inexplicably carried forward by a Nobel Peace laureate? Perhaps some other time.

  123. The Yorkshire Sceptic

    Hm…
    Trijicon…?
    Tri – j – icon?
    Trinity – jesus – icon…?

    Sounds dodgy to me.

  124. Michelle R

    “…commanders have referred to weapons with the sights as ’spiritually transformed firearm[s] of Jesus Christ.’”
    That truly sent shivers down my spine. Not good ones either.

    Dangerous… Very dangerous….

  125. LSandman24

    @ John Brooks (#65) “I think we should put a few good biblical references on a few Mark 82’s also. ”

    If I had a dollar for every biblical reference I’ve seen plastered on bombs built by me and my fellow Ammo troops, I’d have a condo in Palm Springs. I tend to stick with “Austin 3:16″ or “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” :-D

  126. Ray

    I’ve seen a lot of people – both here and in other places – say the inscriptions were illegal.

    I’ve yet to see any actual references though. Exactly what law was broken?

  127. Ray

    For some reason I can’t edit my post at 128, so I’ll add that General Order One is not a law and in any event doesn’t apply to civilians and doesn’t apply to areas outside of CENTCOM’s AOR. Nor does it apply to contract law or acquisitions.

  128. Sir Craig

    Bottom line, what we have here is a company that produces (arguably) a fine piece of equipment that enhances our troops’ performance of their duties. Unfortunately, this same company feels the need to surreptitiously (in fact rather underhandedly) insert its philosophical beliefs onto each piece of said equipment and did so knowing it was in direct violation of General Order One (GO1), which states unequivocally that US personnel will not engage in proselytizing. That the military didn’t catch it is irrelevant: It should have been disclosed in the design specs and clearly it wasn’t (and until now there was no reason for the military to even wonder about such things happening).

    Because of this company’s actions, it has once again hampered our troops’ efforts by once again making this look like an ideological conflict. This is NOT something you want to do if part of your mission is to win hearts and minds. The previous administration was too stupid to understand this (probably because most of that administration had never been in the military or been to the Middle East – not everyone thinks like Americans) and kept make gaffe after gaffe when it came to religious expression (Bush calling the conflict a “crusade”, Rumsfeld with his biblical quotes on his daily reports, etc.).

    It is also personally offensive to me because as a SNCO who happens to be atheist (yes, there are indeed atheists in the military), I should not have to lug around something spouting someone’s religious philosophy, no matter what context. I would feel the same way if I was ordered to wear Magic Mormon Underoos™: It’s not appropriate, and it violates my rights.

    There are some who believe the media who broke this story are to blame. Wrong: They are the watchdogs (or should be) meant to keep people, companies, and governments honest. If the media had buried the story, what kind of lesson would that teach Trijicon? That it’s okay to violate GO1, as long as you’re the right kind of Christianist? I call bull. You want to see what a stifled, government-controlled media looks like, look to North Korea, Iran, China, Argentina, Uganda, etc. Wonderful examples there.

    As for slogans and figures painted on military equipment, not as much as you’d think. The military has become nearly as politically correct as the rest of the general populace. Whatever messages are written on bombs tend to be personal (“Remember 9/11”), targeted (“Bend over and say ‘Hi!’ Osama”), or obscure/crude (“BOHICA”). I never once saw one that said something like, “Muslims need to suck on this!” because it would get the individual court-martialed. And there is little in the way of aircraft nose-art because apparently someone somewhere felt it “objectified” people. Whatever.

    In the end, this story serves to illustrate that there are people who care f*ck-all about the consequences of their actions, so long as they have the means to push their views. The scopes are ordered and delivered, the offending verse references can be filed off, but to do so would be expensive and time consuming (if done legally by authorized personnel), and now the story is out there for whoever and whatever to do with as they please. It is a total mess, and the only outfit to blame is Trijicon.

    Signed, Sir Craig, MSgt

  129. Sir Craig

    Ray @ 129: GO1 is a lawful order directed at military personnel. To violate it is to be in violation of Article 92, a court martial offense. If you are found guilty, it remains on your record forever, so it seems GO1 carries the same weight as any law, with the same consequences (if the violation is severe enough to be regarded as a felony). Use of the equipment in question can be regarded as a violation of GO1 unless the offending verse references are filed off.

    So unless you feel military members being court-martialed is a good thing, you might want to rethink your position…

  130. Ray

    Craig @ 129,

    as someone who retired after 24 years in the Air Force, I know what GO1 means. I also know that using equipment issued to you by the gov is not an offense under the order. GO1 also denies pork products and alcohol to mil personnel in the AOR, yet I can get bacon and ham in the chow hall and I can get up to 3 beers a day at the morale tent. How is that possible? Because the gov issues it to me. The individual soldier is not going to be charged with anything under GO1 for using the scopes.

  131. Calli Arcale

    For those who suggest scraping off the references…..

    That would be tricky. Essentially, what you’d be doing is reworking the parts, and that whole process is controlled. It’s very bureaucratic, but the intent is to make sure you know EXACTLY what you’re holding when you go out to fight. That way, if something goes wrong, you have a much better shot at figuring out what and correcting it. Altering markings without appropriate authorization is bad, because if you can scrape off the offending Biblical reference, you could scrape off the serial number too. That can’t be tolerated.

    In the interest of fairness, I’d rather Trijicon pay to rework all of these sights, but in practice it would not be so simple. There would be thousands of fielded units, and a process would have to be determined for reworking them. To get Trijicon to do it, the Army would have to arrange a process of recalling fielded units and returning them to Trijicon for rework, after which they’d have to undergo acceptance testing again. Not worth it; it’d be simpler to work out a field rework process where armorers take care of it in their own shops. It’d still likely take a few years to rework them all, and it might be simpler to let it go this time, and just make sure that all future deliveries not contain the embossed Bible reference. I’m not sure how they’d document that exemption from General Order 1, though. On the contractor side, we can attach a traveler to any product which doesn’t conform to a controlled baseline, explaining why it doesn’t conform and documenting authorization for the non-conformance (most commonly “we have to start production now to make the delivery date, but the ECP won’t be signed off until next week, so we are proceeding at risk”), but this is bigger than that.

    To those who cry free speech, remember that this isn’t censorship we’re talking about here. Trijicon was paid to provide a product which conforms to military regulations. This product is non-compliant. That’s a problem. You can’t deliver whatever the heck you want; it has to be what the customer ordered. They can say whatever they like about the Bible, but their products need to comply with military regulations or the military will not legally be able to use them.

    I do not at all condone what Trijicon did, either as a Christian (whatever became of “turn the other cheek”?) or as an engineer in the biz. But the military is in a serious bind. It’s going to end up costing quite a bit to deal with this seemingly minor detail. Even if the Army ends up having no choice but to keep doing business with Trijicon, there will be some major bridges burned. You’ve gotta keep the program office happy, or you find that suddenly they stop responding to your proposals. Given that Trijicon is not a huge company, and given the much tighter bidding environment at present, that could kill the company in time. It was a big mistake, and their cavalier attitude makes it worse.

    Of course, it’s possible the military will just roll over and let it go, because it’s gonna be a pain to sort it out. But at the bare minimum, I think they should require that all future work not be inscribed in this way. There is no defensible First Amendment case for this, as far as I can tell. Trijicon is essentially making a product which causes its users to violate an order, and the military cannot knowingly accept such a product. (IOW, Trijicon can put whatever they damn well please on the sights, but that doesn’t mean the US Army has to buy them.)

    Astrofiend @ 90:

    Holy shizzle – Only in America could you have people scribing Biblical quotes attributed to Jesus on guns, have the owner of the company who does so claim that it abides by a strict moral religious code based on the Bible (as written on their website), and do all this while maintaining a straight face.

    Obligatory pedantry: not all of the quotes are attributed to Jesus, though all appear to be from the New Testament. The ABC article lists references to the words of Jesus in Matthew and John, but also references to Revelations (written by a different John, though the actual verse might be attributed to Jesus — I’m not sure because they didn’t give the reference) and 2 Corinthians (which is a letter from Paul to the church in Corinth).

  132. Calli Arcale

    Ray — I believe you are correct that individual soldiers could not be held accountable for violating GO1 by using this scope. That would be dreadfully unfair. But the contractor can sure be held accountable for putting the high mucky-mucks into an awkward position. I know my company wouldn’t want to do what Trijicon has done in response to this, which appears to be basically telling the military to go suck an egg about it. They’ve got guts, I’ll give them that. But contracts have been lost over less. It’s not a smart move, business-wise.

    As a Christian, I have different objections to what Trijicon has done. As another person already noted, Jesus did not require pacifism — but he never promoted holy war. KL @ 53 says:

    Remember, you’re talking about Jesus, the guy who DIDN’T tell the soldiers to seek to leave the service but instead told them “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.” (Luke 3:14) Jesus wasn’t against military service or even armed conflict and (if one’s hermeneutic is such that the view the Bible as one book) his Father even commanded Israel to make war often. The Sermon on the Mount is specifically about “the kingdom of heaven” and personal relationships, not about countries engaging in battle.

    Those soldiers worked for Caesar (indirectly) and were seeking advice about how to balance that with their faith. After all, many Judeans would have considered joining the Roman legions or even Herod’s army to be essentially treason. Like an Iraqi today deciding to become a translator for the Americans, say. If you really look at the larger context of the passage, and apply it to Trijicon’s situation, it really suggests that Trijicon has done the wrong thing, because Jesus is telling them not to be jerks about this situation but instead to do precisely the job they promised to do.

  133. Chris

    I haven’t read every comment (too damned many at this point), so my apologies if this has come up already.

    But the bible verse references aren’t even just the passage numbers printed on the scope, they are part of the ID # for the scope itself. So what you actually have on each scope is something like “RST1PKQ14K3NL22D9JN3:16″. If you didn’t specifically know to look for it, there’s virtually no way you’d be able to find it.

    Its not exactly trying to convert anybody or push religion into the government when its done as part of an arcane part ID number. Its like saying the Mayans wanted to send us a message in their calendar instead of, you know, writing “The world will end in 2012!” in 50′ letters on the side of their pyramids.

    The company was founded by a christian, and he apparently got a kick out of using bible verse numbers as part of his organizational system. Thats about as far as any intent or malice that I can see.

  134. Sir Craig

    Ray: I agree that no one will likely be court-martialed for this unless a commanding officer chooses to push the issue in favor of the verses (for example: If someone such as myself requested a non-verse carrying scope and the commanding officer denied my request, then we get into uncomfortable territory). No one in the military is willingly violating GO1, but Trijicon created the possibility due to their hubris.

    As for other actions violating GO1, those are under very controlled and confined circumstances. You can have Christian or even Jewish services (another possible violation of GO1) as long as they remain on base. You can eat pork and read whatever, as long as it is done on base. The whole thing means that it won’t be introduced into the Islamic public. The same cannot be said for bible referencing hardware, which unfortunately will be carried out into the general public, and this story just made the situation that much more tense.

    (Would I have been happy not to know about the verse references? You betcha, but that genie is definitely out of the bottle and we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again.)

  135. Thats about as far as any intent or malice that I can see.

    I do not ascribe to malice, what can be more easily explained by stupidity. Lack of foresight doesn’t mean that a mistake isn’t a mistake.It just makes it an accident, and just as you never intend to hit that particular car at that particular red light- you’re still paying for it.

    My father and a two of my uncles are engineers. Sure, my dad never intended anything bad by using wood that conformed to an American treatment standard he thought was equivalent to the British standard specifically requested. He (or rather his company) still had to pay for it.

    Do I think, personally that Tricorderjet (or whatever they’re called, I’m not a big fan of guns) deliberately wanted to assert a Christian character to the killing of Muslim combatants? I doubt it- I really do. Is it just something tacked onto the serial number like an artisan’s mark? I’m sure that’s all it is. Still, to paraphrase Carl Jenkins from Starship Troopers: Sorry, but we’re in it for the ideas boys and girls. (At least ostensibly- how you deliver ideals at the end of a gun is beyond me.) It is what it is.

  136. Astroquoter

    Susan Ivanova: “This is the White Star fleet. Negative on the surrender. We will not stand down.”
    Captain Thomson, Earthforce: “Who is this? Identify yourself!”
    Ivanova: “Who am I? I am Susan Ivanova. Commander. Daughter of Andrei and Sophie Ivanov. I am the right hand of vengeance, and the boot that is going to kick your sorry ass all the way back to Earth, sweetheart! I am Death Incarnate, and the last living thing that you are ever going to see. God sent me.”- Baylon 5, epsiode title : “Between the Darkness and the Light”

    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Between_the_Darkness_and_the_Light )

    Is *that* a violation of Church & State?

    An illegal mention of God in a military ever more hamstrung by clod-footed, political correctness? Or fighting words designed to inspire the speakers fellow soldiers with confidence & intimidate the enemy?

    Isn’t this an analogous situation to this one albeit subtly written in an almost unnoticeable fashion rather than shouted aloud?

    Have we really become this nit-pickingly PC that even a private company supplying essential, top quality equipment is forbidden to even allude to the G word?

    The war is fought by religious people – on both sides. You can’t take religion out of people’s hearts and minds. Their side worships the cult of suicide-homicide bombers, wishes to impose a theocratic totalitarian Kaliphate on the world and believes Allah rewards them in heaven exchanging infinite sex for vicious murder. Our enemies cry “Allah ackbar” (Allah is great) when they blow up their suicide-homicide bombs and murder innocent civilians.

    So are Christians not allowed to even *hint* that we too might have own quite different religious beliefs & think God is on our side & NOT theirs? Are our Islamist foes the only ones allowed to consider their faith as a source of motivation helping in empowering them? Must the Muslim sensitivities be blindly pandered too at all costs while the one group whose culture is NOT protected nor respected under the blinkered, bullplop of Political Correctness, the average white traditional Christian, can be treated with contempt?
    Proselytizing? I don’t think so. :roll:
    How the blazes is what Trijicon is doing here proselytizing or evangelising?

    Delivering what some might consider Divine vengeance in the form of bullets from a “Christianized” gun is not aimed at converting the Islamic fundamentalist being targeted. Its just aimed (no pun intended) at sending them to hell – certainly metaphorically and maybe literally too!

  137. Do they also make Holy Hand Grenades? Augh! I couldn’t resist!

    No, they should just tell them to stop putting the inscriptions on the rifles. Plain. Simple.

    If the craftsmanship is good it’s not worth canning them to go to someone else. The government is the customer (on top of controlling the military, IRS and lots of other things).

    You don’t want to have them on your case. :)

    one.. two.. five!
    three, sir!
    three!

  138. @ Dr Dye Coe:

    your inference that freedom can be maintained by ink is no less moronic than Bruce’s 5 points.

    I’d like to know how you derived that inference from my statement.

    Bruce said our military was the source of our freedom. It is not. Our laws and constitution are the source of our freedom.

    Furthermore, as the last line of my post clearly stated, the greatest threats to our freedom come not from outside attack, but from our own senseless fears.

    BTW, the “eternal vigilance” quote does not imply the use of military force. As i noted yet again, we have to be vigilant for those among our own ranks who would use their freedom to lessen the freedoms of others.

  139. Heh. Props to Lewis for the Python reference!

  140. Astroquoter (#142): Which part of “it’s illegal to proselytize in Iraq and Afghanistan” did you miss?

  141. Ray

    Phil, how is the rifle sight proselytizing anyone?

  142. zirky

    For the bible thumpers that will inevitably say this isn’t a big deal, I guarantee you dollars to donuts that had the references been to a passage in the Qur’an, there would be bloody murder being screamed from rooftops all around the country.

  143. Astroquoter

    I don’t agree that adding obscure higly veiled refs to particular bible verses constitutes “proselytization”, BA. I just don’t.

    Now if the troops were trying to convert villages they occupied to Christianity by the sword (or in this case gun) like Muslims have historically done from their beginning then I’d have to agree with you.

    But this? This has been blown totally out of proportion.

    Let’s not foret that this *is* a religious war.

    To be precise, it is a Jihad or Islamic Holy War which Osama bin Laden – (NOT G.W. Bush who the liberals seem to unfairly blame) declared and launched by attacking the continental United Sates of America and killing about 3,ooo innocent people.

    The Jihadists openly and loudly invoke their god Allah all the time.

    Is it really such a big deal if we hint at the fact that hey, some of us believe in our God too?

    Religion is an important aspect in many people’s lives. It is a huge factor in this conflict which, unpalatable as it may be to state bluntly, is basically an Islamic Jihad attacking what they see as the decadent, godless, Christian West.

    Whether atheists like it or not, most Americans & most US soldiers defending us against the Taliban, Al Quaida and other islamic terrorists are Christian. Are you really saying they cannot utter the slightest word while uniform that is an inextricable part of their personal identity? Are they tobe banned from saying tehyareChristain, or showing they are Christian for tehsake of being PC? Is it such a crime to refer in even the faintest way (& come on this is a very fiantand obscur eway indeed!) to ones’ deeply held faith?

    As for Trijicon company surely as long as their guns work it doesn’t matter what they choose to write on them?

    Political Correctness and whipping up so much hype over this non-issue is silly and self-destructive in my view.

    PS. Would those so eagerly and freely mocking Christianity here have the courage to be equally ferocious in attacking the Islamic ideology? Thought not. :roll:

  144. @ astroquoter:

    Let’s not foret that this *is* a religious war.

    Our invasion of Iraq had NOTHING to do with religion.

  145. PS. Would those so eagerly and freely mocking Christianity here have the courage to be equally ferocious in attacking the Islamic ideology? Thought not.

    Haven’t been hanging around here long, have you?

    Allah = God = Yahweh = Bronze to Iron Age Middle Eastern mythological sky fairies. That Muslims, Christians, Jews or anyone else treats them as reality is silly. Perfectly within their rights, in this country anyway, but silly nonetheless.

  146. Laen

    Yes it’s a big deal if our government supports a particular religious viewpoint. If nothing changes from this news being public that is exactly what people will be able to say, the US government is trying to spread Christianity.

    As to all the people claiming “who cares what jihadists think” You are right, I don’t care what they think. I do care what the local Imam thinks though, he’s the one that is going to choose to support us or the jihadist. The local business man who can turn in the jihadists that make a living off protection money or just keep quiet. The family that has a cousin taking part in bombings, can they turn him in without incriminating themselves? They are the people we are trying to convince to help us. They are the people who cannot believe we are crusaders. They are the people we need on our side. Trijicon is the company that just gave our enemies another weapon to use against us.

  147. Slowly But Surly

    Sorry, but I don’t see why this deserves such a big write up and 150 comments. I guess we’re easily offended. Trijicon makes very high quality scopes. The military has to tell them not to put the biblical references on the government purchased models.

    Can we find something a little more deserving of our wrath?

  148. RL

    I don’t know if this has already been said and I heard it somewhere else but:

    I hear each scope is equipped with “cross” hairs, too. Will these Christianists never stop?

    Heh.

  149. Astroquoter

    Yes I know there’s lots of typos in my post (149) above. I’m tired &, yes, angry too. :-(

    I hope I’ve made my point.

    Intellectual excercise for somebody or even everybody here – count the number of cartoons, blog comments and artworks that are offensive to, mock and demean the Christian religion …

    .. & now count the number of comments, artworks, cartoons, etc .. that mock and offend the Islamic religion.

    Note that the Muslims responded to a satirical book by holding mass book burnings and by imposing a death sentence on its author, its editors, its publishers, etc .. They tried & even suceeded in killing and injuring some of them too. (If you don’t already know about it, research ‘The Satanic verses’ /Salman Rushdie uproar)

    The Muslims responded with an insane globe-wide fury to a Danish newspaper cartoon they found offensive. The West then caved in and the cartoon was & still is mostly hidden by by the so-called “free & fair” media.

    For pity’s sake, a *teddy bear* gets named Mohammad (the most common name in the world, BTW) after a boy in a class and the Muslim extremists start foaming at the mouth and threatening death and destruction as it seems like they always do.

    And most recently a militant self-described “Palestinian” Islamist nut is allowed to serve in the US army – despite mouthing off about how evil we all are & needing to be on a terror watch list rather than giving “pyschology” lectures only to go on a murderous shooting spree. Of course afterwards the media & liberals blame everyone BUT the terrorist responsible who actually attacked his comrades. :roll:

    Am I the only one to think that our PC way of humouring these people is failing miserably? That something is very wrong here & that maybe its time we stood up to these people rather than walking on eggshells at even the faintest hint this intolerant bunch of bullying thugs might take offence at some thig *we* say?

    I don’t care what our enemies think – if we get ‘em mad then so much the better.

    We should cosy up to & humour these Muslim extremists *why* exactly?

    Trijicon designed these guns with a perfectly good purpose in mind. That purpose was stopping these terrorist whackjobs not preaching to them. I suggest our troops ignore the non-issue of how the gunsights are marked & just use them as they were intended to be used.

    Saying this makes us more enemies is silly because, hello, the Islamists will find any excuse however dumb and out of all reason to kill us anyway.

    If its not this trijicon thing it’d just be something else utterly trivial. Like a cartoon or a teddy bear or a beauty pagent or awoman showing more than her eyes or someone being Jewish or American or just plain non-Muslim.

    These fanatics cannot be appeased or humoured only surrendered to or fought & its time some here woke up to that sad but undeniable fact.

  150. bubba

    Waiter!! Check, please.

  151. G Williams

    #56 ccpetersen, Phil

    Trijicon has been putting these references on their sights since the company’s founding, and has never hidden that fact.
    If at any point in the process of procuring these sights, a government employee had asked about the biblical references, they likely would have been told, and then the government could have made sure that it had only acquired un-marked sights.

    It is NOT Trijicon’s responsibility to uncover and apply on their own time, any government mandates or regulations that aren’t written into the governments contract to procure these sights.

    The responsibility falls to the Pentagon’s Procurement Office to ensure that when they sign a contract to buy a weapon, that weapon fits within the requirements and regulations the U.S. military will have of it.

    Think of it this way, if it had been, instead of the U.S. government, a private security firm of some kind which likewise prohibited it’s employees from overt displays of religion, buying these scopes, who’s responsibility would it be to ensure that, when they placed an order for scopes, they were getting scopes that didn’t violate their internal regulations?

    Now it’s possible (as I said) that Trijicon /did/ agree explicitly to provide un-marked scopes to the U.S. government and failed to do so, In this case, it is Trijicon’s fault for not following through on their contract.
    Once again though, it is NOT Trijicon’s responsibility to employ a team of legal experts so that they can divine whether or not their patrons have left any requirements or regulations out of their contract.

  152. Yojimbo

    @113 Messier Tidy Upper

    Just FYI, the only nose art on the Enola Gay was/is the name, which was that of the pilot’s mother. Bock’s Car, which bombed Nagasaki, has cartoon nose art, but nothing racy. Of course, pinup nose art was common throughout WW2 and for a long time after – just not on those particular planes.

    Does anyone know the official policy on nose art today? Sexist depictions have definitely disappeared, so I suspect they have been banned. I recall that recently they gave permission to put a replica of the Memphis Belle nose art on a B-1B, but that was a special case.

  153. Astroquoter

    @ 150. kuhnigget Says:

    @ astroquoter: “Let’s not forget that this *is* a religious war.”
    Our invasion of Iraq had NOTHING to do with religion.

    Do you honestly believe we’d have gone to war against Iraq if Osama bin laden hadn’t launched his Jihad against us on 9-11, kuhnigget?

    Have you missed hearing about the “suicide” Homicide bombings and the whole Al-Quaida in Iraq group led by the late & unlamented Mr throat-slitting hostage murderering Al-Zarquawi? Or how the conflict there really got bad because of the Shia-Sunni intra-Muslim civil war that erupted sparked by that bloodthirsty mob?

    Saddam brought the war on himself by his WMD bluff which everyone believed at the time. Saddam could have avoided the war if he’d fled Iraq before it started as Bush requested. Saddam was a very nasty murdering tyrant and he wrecked his country long before we got there.

    Iraq was – and still is – just one front of our war of defending ourselves against Bin Laden’s Jihad.

    Do you remember September 11th 2001 kuhnigget? Thats when it all began.

    If they win or capture us – *you* as much as me (likely more so *you* in fact) – we will be beheaded or forced to convert and live as second class citizens. Or wiped out entirely.

    Given that reality does it really matter if the gun used to keep you from that fate has one tiny mark that you don’t like?

  154. @ astroquoter:

    We should cosy up to & humour these Muslim extremists *why* exactly?

    Changing the tune of your complaint, now?

    Who here has ever, EVER suggested we cosy up to or humor, Muslim extremists?

    The point of all this is, what is the best way of defeating them? Giving them propaganda points such as Christian verse references on official U.S. military weaponry? No! That is NOT the way to defeat them. Stupid as it may seem, this issue is as simple as that. Might as well stand before a crowd of media and say, “Bring ‘em on!” Oh, wait. Been done.

    Regarding the book burning, talk to your local librarian about banned books and the increasingly long list of works that home-grown religious wackos are trying to add to the pile. Yeah, they might not choose bonfires as the method of choice, but they sure aren’t shy about using other tactics.

  155. Augie

    Astroquoter: uhh pookie-kins, Iraq was mortal enemy of bin Laden so his hearty thanks for your becoming mass murderers and motivating the escalation of the Reagan birthed Taliban …. are legion at this point. But there is a big sigh of relief by the natives….since you all were too intellectually and spiritually constipated to blow Saudi Arabia and Pakistan off the map since it was their two country-men who funded and sent their boy toys on planes on 9/11.

    Rifle Scopes:

    “Are we going to stop using money because the bills have ‘In God We Trust’ on them?”…so says Mr Pentagon mouth piece.

    So…. if this Christian Nation trusted a god, they wouldn’t require/demand/need a military nor any other type of weapon either.

    As our forefather’s are noted to have said:

    “Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise” – James Madison

    “Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man.” – Thomas Jefferson

  156. Lawrence

    Astroquoter – I would prefer that we try to end this war before my son (who is 2) is old enough to get sent to another god-forsaken part of the world to fight against yet another group of extremists.

    So what exactly is your end-game here? Seems to me that there are a lot of people who would be more than happy for us to lay waste to about 1/3 of the world (either conventionally or otherwise) with no regard to the cost (in lives and money) for revenge.

    It was posted earlier & I agree – if we don’t find a way to win the propaganda war (and we are losing badly in most parts of the world), there will be no way for us to win – because it costs a lot less for our enemy to recruit teenagers, give them an AK-47 or explosive belt & point them in our direction, than it does for us to train our soldiers, buy our high-tech weapons, and ship them halfway across the world (and supply them).

    In this case, we seem to go out of our way to offend the very people we are trying to win over. If we can’t get the average Iraqi or Afghani to choose peace over war, this will never end.

    Again, what’s your end game scenario?

  157. Oh boy! Pissy war with astroquoter!

    Do you honestly believe we’d have gone to war against Iraq if Osama bin laden hadn’t launched his Jihad against us on 9-11, kuhnigget?

    Perhaps the country might not have gone along with the Bush/Cheney invasion were it not for 9-11, but no, the attack of 9-11 had no direct connection with the war in Iraq. It was an opportunity seized upon and leveraged outrageously and repeatedly.

    Have you missed hearing about the “suicide” Homicide bombings and the whole Al-Quaida in Iraq group led by the late Mr throat-slitter, unarmed hostage murder Al-Zarquawi?

    That would be the same Mr. Al-Zarquawi who was not active in Iraq until our invasion removed the country’s security forces? Yes, astroquoter, I’ve heard of him.

    Or how the conflict there really got bad because the Shia-Sunni intra-Muslim civil war that erupted sparked by that bloodthirsty mob?

    The bloodthirsty mob unleashed because the security forces that kept them away from each other’s throats had been disbanded by the U.S.? Yes, I’ve heard of that.

    Saddam brought the war on himself by his WMD bluff which everyone believed at the time.

    That’s just rewriting history, Astroquoter. “Everybody” did not believe it. Large numbers of people in this country and around the world examined the evidence of the U.N. weapons inspectors and concluded that, yes indeed, Saddam Hussein had indeed complied with the U.N. resolutions. Even George Bush himself eventually concluded that the WMDs were not important…this, after his administration’s blatant lies about them were finally and conclusively hammered home.

    Saddam could have avoided the war if he’d fled Iraq before it started as Bush requested.

    Since when does the president of the United States get to dictate how leaders of sovereign states act? Saddam, and any other foreign leader is free to taunt us all they want. So long as they don’t actually attack us or realistically threaten us, that is their business, not ours.

    Saddam was a very nasty murdering tyrant and he wrecked his country long before we got there.

    Irrelevant. So was Robert Mugabe. So was Joseph Stalin. Why didn’t we invade Zimbabwe?

    Iraq was – and still is – just one front of our war of defending ourselves against Bin Laden’s Jihad.

    It is only a front because we created it. There were no al-Qaida terrorists using Iraq as a base to threaten the U.S. in Iraq until after we invaded and turned the whole country into a vast breeding ground for their ilk.

    Do you remember September 11th 2001 kuhnigget? Thats when it all began.

    Yes, Astroquoter, I do. I lost a friend on that day and in that attack. Do YOU remember it? Do you recall that the attackers were not Iraquis? They were Saudi and Egyptian, for the most part. Why did we not invade Saudi Arabia? Why did we not invade Egypt?

    If they win or capture us – *you* as much as me – more so *you* in fact – we will be beheaded or forced to convert and live as second class citizens. Or wiped out entirely.
    Given that reality does it really matter if the gun used to keep you from that fate has one tiny mark that you don’t like?

    Again, missing the point. The point is to win. Giving them propaganda weapons such as this aids their cause. We should not be aiding their cause.

    End of story.

  158. Ad Hominid

    Just talked to the armorer at my reserve unit. Sure enough, a sizable percentage of their Trijicon sights have these inscriptions. I’ve seen these but like anyone else who has not been told specifically what they are, I just assumed they were some cryptic part of the serial number.

    The armorer said it would not be difficult to remove these once authorization comes down but it is a little time-consuming. Since armorers have other work to do, especially in the combat zones, Trijicon should be required to modify and re-finish the sights itself, or hire a contractor, and bear the expense of doing so.

  159. Slowly But Surly

    I forgot to add that I love the graphic & tag line. And of course Jesus would use a stainless model 94! I bet its chambered in that most American cartridge, the .30-30.

  160. Daffy

    Kuhnigget,

    Your post was accurate, and very concisely laid out. The way Bush and Cheney inflamed national paranoia to get what they wanted was shameful and downright scary. And now that Haliburton got what they wanted (billions in handouts) they have re-located to Dubai to avoid paying taxes on it.

    Btw, did you hear Scott Brown’s victory speech? He immediately started in with terrorism and trying to frighten the public. These people have no shame…and why should they? Scaring the American public works every time.

  161. Just thought you folks ought to see what this is all about:

    Thanks go out to Brian Dunning of Skeptoid for the image.

  162. Cheyenne

    Oh wow that is a little underwhelming. I mean, still a bad idea and all but I thought it was going to be a lot more obvious than that.

    Does anybody else think it’s a little odd that there is only 1 Stumble and no Diggs on this blog entry given the amount of comments? Weird.

  163. mike burkhart

    I got angry when I heard about this BIBLE PASSAGES DON’T BELONG ON WEPONS OF DESTUCTION . If I can get off topic I want to explan about the movie voyage to the prehistoric planet I said it made in Russia . the reasion I said there was no comunist propaganda in the film was that I recomended this film to some friends when I said it was Russian the frist thing they asked was if there was comunist propaganda in it . The interesting thing is the Russians have had a big interest in the planet Venus they have sent more space probes there then the U.S. has .

  164. Avery

    There is nothing fundamentalist about scripture. It is just scripture.
    Holy scripture has been applied on weapons since the invention of writing. The word was the thing and the thing was the word. Writing was magic. There is no harm in having the Lord of Hosts at your shoulder in battle. Y’all are offended that men would take God into battle with them? You don’t know your God; if you have one at all. What a sorry place the world has become; where something like this even matters.

  165. Avery

    Daffy; The Dems know all about scaring. Divide the public and conquer. The party of slavery calls the race card everytime. They still want slaves. Their slaves are the gullible, uneducated, and poor. Socialists/communists. Prepare for war. It will come in my lifetime. I will not be a communist nor live in a socialist economy that has failed everytime it has ever been attempted. I will die before I use any communist (read government) health care and walk before I buy a communist (gov’t) car. Get thyself to the target range. A little scripture will not hurt you. Keep it close to your heart. Can’t you feel battle in the air?

  166. Sir Craig

    kuhnigget @ 163: Thank you for sparing me the reply – astroquoter is definitely of the “scart o’ dem brown-skinned people” fatwah-envyists.

    I’m especially humored by how little faith he has in a 350+ million-strong nation defending itself from a handful of Jihadists. Oh, how I dread the awesome power of the vaunted al-Qaeda Navy and Air Force.

  167. Sir Craig

    And Avery doesn’t seem to get it either. Classic Kool-Aid drinker.

    I need to kick the whole SIWOTI compulsion – this is taking too much time…

  168. @ Sir Craig:

    Heh heh…it is a bit of a time waster with some people, isn’t it?

    Hey, Avery? Yer mom cash her Social Security check yet? Or get her Medicare scrips? Oh, wait. I bet you guys opt out of those evil gubmint programs.

    And as to this mattering or not, see the gist of my posts. It matters because our sworn enemies use stuff like this against us. Don’t arm your enemy. Good policy, no?

  169. Avery

    Kool-Aid? Huh?
    Mama is ok. So is dad. Still workin at 76. Doing well.
    Mama’s business is her own. Mine is mine.
    We take care of mama as need be.

  170. Frank O'B

    Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man)
    This is a somewhat-paraphrased version of the following:

    “…those who live by mystery & charlatanerie, fearing you would render them useless by simplifying the Christian philosophy, the most sublime & benevolent, but most perverted system that ever shone on man, endeavored to crush your well earnt, & well deserved fame.” – Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Priestley, Washington, 21 March 1801[1]

    Footnotes
    ↑ PTJ 33:393. Press copy available from the Library of Congress. Ford transcription available online.

  171. Frank O'B

    I also find it amusing how seldom JC looks like a Sephardic Jew in these pictures….

  172. Didn’t answer the question, I note.

  173. @ Frank O’B:

    Thanks for that quote. I note Jefferson uses the word “perverted” in the sense of something that has been corrupted from its original source.

    An excellent book on this subject is Misquoting Jesus, by Bart Ehrman, which shows exactly how a little change here, a little change there, adds up to a big change in the long run.

    And I also note how JC is seldom shown using his powerful rifle to shoot dinosaurs. Tut-tut!

  174. Daffy

    Avery,

    I wouldn’t even know where to start with you. Although a good therapist leaps to mind…

    (For the record, I am not a Democrat either. Both parties sold out to the Global Corporations decades ago.)

  175. Plutonium being from Pluto

    The US is not the only military using these guns. New Zealand among others apparently had these trijicon bible-verse weapons too but are now taking action to remove the refs.

    See : http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=1002322

  176. amazed

    Of all things stupid to get your panties in a twist over, this ranks about 10 zillionth on my list.
    The company is just a little stupid (or a lot stupid if it loses business over this), NOT criminal, NOT in violation of basically ANYTHING other than common sense, and it’s NOT proselytizing except in some nit-picking lawlerly definition of same. How about comparing this to something that actually DOES violate the separation of church and state AND almost certainly several laws: Tim Tebow’s painting bible references under his eyes so tens of millions of people are FORCED to look at his admitted proslytizing on national tv? Yeah, my panties are definitely in a serious twist over crap like that. Tiny little bible references that you probably need a hand lens to see AND know exactly where to look for them? Not so much.

  177. @ amazed:

    Read through the comments above yours for some very good arguments as to why this is worth twisting knickers over.

  178. Calli Arcale

    Astroquoter @ 142:

    As much as I like Babylon 5, and that bit in particular (Ivanova ROCKS), I fail to see what relevance it has.

    In any case, no that is not a violation of church and state, largely because it occurs in a time period when the United States no longer exists. I admit I haven’t read *all* of the Babylon 5 novels, nor watched “Excalibur”, but at least in what I have seen, insufficient information about the Earthgov constitution (and Earthforce regs) is provided to make a judgement on whether or not Ivanova was breaking the law.

    Of course, since she was at the time preparing to fire on Earthforce vessels, she had much bigger infractions to worry about.

    Of course, for B5 badassery, I actually prefer this bit from “Severed Dreams” (cut-and-pasted out of wikiquote), after a brutal fight with Earthforce which Babylon 5 barely survived:

    [As the immediate danger is cleared.]
    Sheridan: Damage report.
    David Corwin: Damage to all sectors. They’re still fighting in Brown Sector.
    Sheridan: Get some more troops down there. Hull integrity?
    Corwin: Not good. EVA teams en route. It’s a good thing this stopped when it did. We couldn’t take much more. [Jumpgate alarm goes off.] Oh, no!
    [Outside, the jumpgate opens and three more Clark-loyal destroyers come through]
    Captain Drake, EarthForce: This is Captain Drake to Babylon 5. You are ordered to surrender and prepare to be boarded, by order of President Clark.
    [Another alarm goes off in C&C]
    Corwin: Captain…jump points forming right on top of us!
    Sheridan: [deflated] How many?
    Corwin: Four!
    [The jump points produce three Minbari cruisers and the White Star, with Delenn in the captain's chair]
    Delenn: This is Ambassador Delenn of the Minbari. Babylon 5 is under our protection. Withdraw…or be destroyed!
    Drake: Negative. We have authority here. Do not force us to engage your ship.
    Delenn: Why not? Only one human captain has ever survived battle with a Minbari fleet. He is behind me. You are in front of me. If you value your lives, be somewhere else.

  179. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ 158. Yojimbo Says:

    @113 Messier Tidy Upper : Just FYI, the only nose art on the Enola Gay was/is the name, which was that of the pilot’s mother. Bock’s Car, which bombed Nagasaki, has cartoon nose art, but nothing racy. Of course, pinup nose art was common throughout WW2 and for a long time after – just not on those particular planes. Does anyone know the official policy on nose art today? Sexist depictions have definitely disappeared, so I suspect they have been banned. I recall that recently they gave permission to put a replica of the Memphis Belle nose art on a B-1B, but that was a special case.

    Thanks for that – I must’ve confused the Enola Gay with the Memphis Belle or another aircraft. Seems sad that such customisation / personalisation giving aircraft that extra bit of character has fallen victim to the edicts of colourless & humourless political correctness. :-(

    War is fought by people. Not allowing people to add even the slightest personal touches of their identities and ideas seems pathetic and doomed to failure to me.

    Of course, a company insisting its weapons bear inscriptions refering to a particular religious text is a slightly different matter again but I don’t know its as bad as some here seem to think. I don’t think the weapons are really aimed at converting the enemy. OTOH, the propaganda value this gives our enemies isn’t a good idea either. It does seem ironic to put Christian slogans on guns when Christ was seemingly pretty much opposed to violence. Wonder if the “live by the sword & you’ll die by the sword” line gets a reference on one of trijicon’s gunsights? ;-)

    @ 168. Richard Drumm The Astronomy Bum Says:

    Just thought you folks ought to see what this is all about: Thanks go out to Brian Dunning of Skeptoid for the image.

    Afraid I can’t see it on my machine. Cheyenne (169.) obviously can though so I’m not sure what the problem is.

    @ 170. mike burkhart Says:

    I got angry when I heard about this BIBLE PASSAGES DON’T BELONG ON WEPONS OF DESTUCTION . If I can get off topic I want to explan about the movie voyage to the prehistoric planet I said it made in Russia . the reasion I said there was no comunist propaganda in the film was that I recomended this film to some friends when I said it was Russian the frist thing they asked was if there was comunist propaganda in it . The interesting thing is the Russians have had a big interest in the planet Venus they have sent more space probes there then the U.S. has.

    Yeah the Venera landers were pretty impressive. Not sure what’s with the movie talk or where that’s coming from here or why / where this was raised. Haven’t heard about ‘Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet’ – is that new? Surely not given we’ve known Venus is a searing high-pressure Co2 smothered inferno sinc ethe 170′s but it does remind me of the old Russian movie ‘Planet of Storms’ which I thought was kind of good if quite different. :-)

  180. Messier Tidy Upper

    ^ D’oh! That’s meant to read :

    “Surely not given we’ve known Venus is a searing high-pressure Co2 smothered inferno since the 1970’s”

    of course.

    @ 186. Calli Arcale : Great quote. I loved that moment too. Ivanova rocks indeed. :-)

  181. Shawn

    I used the Trijicon ACOG in both Iraq and “the Stan”, it is a great scope and as far as I know no one makes something like this product so we should not sever the contract with Trijicon. This problem can be fixed easily, just have the unit armor use a Dremel to grind the offending letters off and have Trijicon stop stamping future ACOGs that are sent to the DOD. Easy.

  182. Al Viro

    @142: *That* is Susan going off the deep end, followed shortly by loss
    of situational awareness, resulting in unspecified number of casualties
    on her ship. Nearly terminal in her case, and the means used to get
    her back to life were definitely used only once.

    Rewatch that episode, would you? Paying attention to command decisions
    this time…

    Basically, that’s the moment when her loose cannon tendencies come to
    bite her. Hard. After a lot of earlier near misses and at least one
    on-screen tongue-lashing by her commanding officer.

  183. davem

    I imagine that nose art on aeroplanes has gone out of fashion due to the heat problems, and the issue of radar reflectivity. Special black non-reflective paint is used to absorb radar. Wouldn’t be too clever to have the enemy focus on your nose art….

  184. Nathan

    @ Astroquoter. “Now if the troops were trying to convert villages they occupied to Christianity by the sword (or in this case gun) like Muslims have historically done from their beginning then I’d have to agree with you. ”

    Wha-What???? Are you ignoring history?! Sure they did, So did F-ing Christians, or did you forget the CRUSADES? Or how about the forcible and horribly violent conversion of South America, or The Inquisition. Or the conversion of Europe in the first place. Who was more bloody? Neither. Don’t try to give Christianity a moral high ground it doesn’t have. As a matter of fact, don’t involve christianity in the argument. As it has been said before every time you do, a jihadist gets a suicide vest. If you don’t understand how important, and DANGEROUS, propaganda can be, I would direct you to look at a history of world war II. See what propaganda did. For good and ill. I have nothing else to say about that post of yours, I think the rest of the people here have trounced you soundly enough.

  185. Steve

    Regarding the current Air Force and nose art. . .

    http://www.afblues.com/?p=1394

  186. Plutonium being from Pluto

    Yahoo news (Australia) has just reported on this issue & notes from here :

    http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/world/6703875/muslim-anger-over-jesus-rifle-scopes/

    A statement posted on the Trijicon website said: “As part of our faith and our belief in service to our country, Trijicon has put scripture references on our products for more than two decades. “As long as we have men and women in danger, we will continue to do everything we can to provide them with both state-of-the-art technology and the never-ending support and prayers of a grateful nation.” The company told ABC there was nothing illegal in putting the references on the gun sights but the MPAC [Muslim Public Affairs Council -ed.] protested the moves.

    That’s the latest I’m aware of anyhow – no sign of backing down or apologising from Trijicon then & no military spokesmen saying what if any action is being taken or considered.

    The BA’s update 2 there -

    http://michiganmessenger.com/33560/pentagon-to-talk-to-michigan-company-about-bible-verse-scopes

    was powerfully disturbing and really *bad* & unsubtle religious ranting & bullying – but has that account been independently verified by more people than just this one anonymous source?

    @ 104. DisGRUNTled Says:

    Bruce @ 101 : I’ve said this a few times on this blog and on others to those who have said why don’t the ones who are offended just scrape it off.

    WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO! ITS DAMAGING GOVERNMENT PROPERTY. WHEN YOU DAMAGE GOVERNMENT PROPERTY INTENTIONALLY (and occasionally unintentionally) YOU HAVE TO REPAY THE GOVERNMENT TO REPLACE IT. IT COMES FROM OUR PAYCHECKS ( Servicemen’s) … (Caps original.)

    So if a fighter pilot crashes his plane he has to pay for it himself?! Yikes! :-O

  187. Cheyenne

    @Messier Tidy Upper- The image of the actual scope was put up for a little awhile but then deleted for some reason. I have no idea why, would seem perfectly reasonable for everybody to see the actual object that is causing this whole kerfuffle. To me I was a little surprised at how tiny and hard to see the lettering was (it’s black on black and done in what appears to be pretty darn small lettering at the base of the unit). Not to say that I think it’s ok or that it shouldn’t be changed – it obviously should be – just a bit surprising is all.

  188. Steve

    Plutonium @ 194:

    Technically yes, they can make a pilot pay for being shot down. I’d asked this squestion when we were being lectured on what happens when we lose a laptop and how it’s the same as losing an M4.

    The answer I received is that for something like a tank or plane lost in combat it goes to Congress who forgives the debt of the guy who signed it out.

    The point be that no, they weren’t going to Congress to forgive us losing a laptop.

  189. @ Plutonian:

    was powerfully disturbing and really *bad* & unsubtle religious ranting & bullying – but has that account been independently verified by more people than just this one anonymous source?

    It’s been well reported…well, reported…in the media about the growing influence of hard core Christians in the U.S. military. Particularly egregious is their presence at the various training academies. Google “air force academy christians” for some pretty disgusting stories.

    Then there is General William Boykin’s infamous “my god is bigger than their god” rationale for why the war in Iraq would be a hands down victory.

  190. ND

    kuhnigget,

    Love your detailed response to astroquoter, to the point and accurate.

    As for forcing religion on others, early adopters of christianity were very heavy handed in eradicating pagan religions. There was a lot of history actually erased thanks to the conversions. Except for some select pagan traditions rebranded under christianty to make the transition easier.

    Edit: Love the B5 quotes too. “God sent me” :)

  191. whb03

    @astroquoter:
    “Let’s not forget that this *is* a religious war.”
    Um, no. That’s the point. The US military does not fight “holy” wars, regardless of what the enemy decides to call it. That means that no, this is NOT a case of Xtianity vs. Islam. Fail.

    “Whether atheists like it or not, most Americans & most US soldiers defending us against the Taliban, Al Quaida and other islamic terrorists are Christian.”

    And that has WHAT to do with illegally inscribing military hardware with religious references? It doesn’t matter what religion a person is, they cannot push it onto others in the military, regardless of thier numbers. Xtianity is not exempt.

    “Are you really saying they cannot utter the slightest word while uniform that is an inextricable part of their personal identity?”

    No, I do not believe this was Kuhnigget’s point. Military personnel have the right to practice their religion, as has been stated many times already. It is when you push your religion – ANY religion – onto others in the military that it becomes illegal. Get it? Practice but don’t push. Pretty simple. Yet Xtian extremists seem to think that somehow this regards every religion EXCEPT Xtianity. They provide a large number of pseudo-”reasons” to justify their brand of supremecy – numbers (the excuse you seem to use), this country was founded as a Xtian nation, Xtianity is the only one true religion, etc etc etc etc… All wrong. Big big big fail.

    “We should cosy up to & humour these Muslim extremists *why* exactly?”

    Um, again, no, nobody is saying that here that I can see. Typical Xtian red herring, extremism applies to you but not to us (actually typical of extremists of any kind). We should cozy up to and humor NO extremists of any kind, be it Muslim or Xtian. And in the military, we get to sermonize to NOBODY against their will. Yup, that includes both Islam AND Xtianity. Why do extremists fail to see that this includes THEIR brand of extremism along with everyone else? Xtians are not exempt. Again, fail.

    Please, stop turning this into yet another manufactured case of “Xtian persecution”. Most REAL Christians (i.e., non-extremists with a sense of rationality) would be offended by this issue, even if it is rather minor in the grand scheme of things. It only serves to feed fodder to the non-Xtian extremists, which is something most Christians I know of are pretty much sick and tired of.

  192. Darth Robo

    Do any of the inscriptions point to “Love thy fellow man”? Jesus Christ there’s some fruitcakes abound in this world! But the slightly disturbing part is if they happen to represent a significant proportion of one of the largest military forces in the world. Who just so happen to be waging a war against a similarly fundamentalist military group who are quite happy to blow themselves up if they can take out anywhere from 400 or even up to a total of 4 people, and who consider the war a righteous Jihad.

    Onward Christian soldiers…

  193. personally, I would like to see the bullets dipped in pork lard as well.

  194. whb03

    Well, Trijicon backed down, they’re removing the references free of charge for the US and Australia, and offering to do the same for other countries as well. I don’t condone their initial response, but they’re doing the right thing now, so let’s get back to real priorities… But I stick by my comments about “Xtian persecution”!

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100122/ap_on_bi_ge/us_military_weapons_bible_references

  195. Hugh Thomas

    1. Who cares what Al Qida or any other enemy of the United State or Freedom says, they are the ENEMY, they want to kill our people, they are criminal terrorists. Our troops are endangered by being in the Middle East, period. Dipping the bullets in Pork Lard would be a good idea, it would get the idea across that these terrorist criminals are not going to their idea of paradise. Keep in mind, if a family member converts from moslem to Christian over there, they are likely to be killed by their own people.
    2. “Seperation of Church and State” was intended for one SOLE purpose, to prevent the Federal government from promoting one CHRISTIAN denomination over another. Our nation was founded as a CHRISTIAN nation and our Founding Fathers assumed (poor deluded gentlement) that their descendants would remember that. It seems our “enlightened” generation is too stupid to see why our nation is suffering from the economic and physical dissasters we are seeing, look to history, look to the Israelites when they turned from God, but this is a contagious form of blindness.
    Understand one thing, I AM a Christian extremist, that is why I don’t want to see anyone not accept Christ as their Savior, because, we are taught to love our fellow man and part of that love is to spread the word of Salvation so that no one that we meet goes to Hell, for without accepting Christ, you will go to Hell(that is my faith). If you consider that shoving my religion down your throat, well, we have everyone elses’ beliefs shoved down our throats on a daily basis. The big difference between the Moslems and us Christians, they want to see all non-believers go to their version of hell.
    3. Trijicon is a company owned by free citizens of the United States and have been putting those Biblical references on their scopes long before the Government contracts and the contracts DID NOT SPECIFY them not to do so. They have no obligation to remove them and should not legally be required to do so. They have violated no laws and should not be punished. If the misguided Washington elite, such as Weinstein, want to change the contract specifications, they should renegotiate. Personally I wish he (and those of his ilk) had a George Patton to speak with them.

  196. @ Hugh Thomas:

    Please read previous comments.

    The real issue here isn’t separation of church and state. The main reason why these citations are wrong is because they can potentially aid the very enemy you so clearly identify. Propaganda, when directed at the uneducated, juvenile, or otherwise naive minds these people target as new recruits into their human bomb brigades, is a powerful and deadly weapon, and Trjicon’s dumb Bible citations are perfect propaganda to “prove” the U.S. is launching its own holy war against Islam.

    Aiding and abetting the enemy in a time of war is a serious offense. Trijicom is getting off easy.

    And by the way, these people don’t “hate our freedom,” or whatever that dumb canard is. In their minds, they are acting as freely as Allah wants them to be. But Islam is not the cause of their battle, only a tool they use to motivate their troops.

  197. Robert E

    BBC News online has a followup story online this morning.

    “The company pledged to remove the inscription reference on all products destined for the US military yet to be shipped and ensure all future procurements from the department of defence are produced without scripture references.”
    “It also said it would provide 100 modification kits to forces in the field to remove the references. ”

    Church of England is apparently upset by the inscriptions as well.

    edit: see I was beaten to the punch

  198. Robert E

    @203:
    Where the preamble [of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom] declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting the words “Jesus Christ,” so that it should read, “A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination. (Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 363)

    But a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer [Jesus] of the Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in Church and State. (Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Samuel Kercheval, 1810; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 370)

    Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize [sic], every expanded prospect. (James Madison, in a letter to William Bradford, April 1, 1774, as quoted by Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 37.)

    All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish [Muslim], appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit. (Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, 1794-1795. From Paul Blanshard, ed., Classics of Free Thought, Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books, 1977, pp. 134-135.)

    I could go on, but the founding fathers were hardly what could be called devoutly CHRISTIAN

  199. Hugh Thomas

    From the number of willing morons who so blithely tie bombs to their persons and blow themselves to their idea of paradise (I hope they enjoy their surprise hot reception) in the attempt to kill anyone, including their own people, the idea that some obscure reference, on a piece of equipment will encourage more participation, is assinine.
    Further, if the reporter hadn’t brought it to world attention, they would never have known about it, THAT is aiding and abetting the enemy in time of war, and he should be brought up on charges of treason, but oh, that’s right, the press is not held accountable for anything they do. WHY did he decide that was a vital piece of news that HAD to be dispersed?
    No, they don’t hate our freedom, they hate us, because their imams say we do not believe as they do, so we are agents of satan and should die. Maybe it would be preferred if the Qoran reference Surah 9:5 were placed on the sights.
    The Church of England is the reason the U.S. Constitution has the “seperation of church and state clause” and is known as the Episcopal church in the U.S. I would tend to question the leaders of any “Christian” organization that is ashamed to see Biblical references on anything.

  200. @ Hugh:

    And why do those “willing morons” tie bombs to themselves? Because they are convinced by others that they are on a holy crusade against the great satan who is, itself, on a holy crusade against them. Round and round it goes.

    Have you ever travelled in a muslim country, Hugh? I have. Most ordinary people couldn’t give a crusty damn about the U.S…except when we drop bombs on their villages and prop up dictators who squeeze the life out of them. Who was it who armed the Taliban again? Hmmm….let me think….

    The press is not held accountable for anything they do? Gosh. That’s news. Maybe we should bring back the Alien and Sedition acts, eh? But then there is Fox News. You’re right. They’re not held accountable for any of the b.s. they broadcast.

    Maybe a better reference to scribe on future weaponry would be First Kings 13:1-2. Let them non-believing imams understand what the real god has in store for them.

  201. Nathan

    By this line of logic of “separation of church and state”, YAHOO.COM should be ban from all government businesses.

    Because on it front page, it has a link called OMG. Which we all know stands for “Oh My God” which is an direct reference to the existence of God which is an absolutely unacceptable promotion of Chrisitan ideas and offensive to Atheists.

  202. whb03

    Hugh, for the x-teenth time, please get it right. Our nation was NOT founded as a Xtian nation, it was founded as a SECULAR state where ANY religion is allowed to practice without government interference, as long said religion does not attempt to force itself upon anyone else. That means that no, Xtians are NOT immune to “separation of church and state”, like it or not it applies to ALL religions. And yes, that also means that Muslim extremists do not get to blow up our buildings, people or allies for any reason, regardless of the rhetoric they wish to use. Nobody does. But also get this right: our nation does not stop them from doing so as a Xtian nation.

    As far as being a a self-proclaimed extremist, you have the right to think whatever you want, just keep it our of our government and military. What you “think” on the matter makes no difference as long as it does not interfere with the rights of others. That means non-Xtians don’t get state-sponsored guns with religious references of any kind.

    You may (incorrectly) believe that Xtianity somehow holds a monopoly on morality, sorry to say that it does not.

    Either way, Trijicon has agreed to take the right, moral – and yes, LEGALLY OBLIGATED action and remove said references at their expense.

  203. Rivi

    Has a certain taste of “Gott mit uns” (God with us) — Inscription of German Wehrmacht belt buckles until the end of WWII. It seems metal is even more patient than paper. (“Paper is patient” is a German proverb meaning that the fact that something is printed doesn’t mean it’s true)

  204. Nathan (#21): If Yahoo tried to sell its product for use in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is disallowed under the rules I wrote about in, y’know, the post you’re commenting on, then yeah, it would be illegal.

  205. Chris

    If anyone is still reading these for anything but the, ahem, “spirited religious debate”, I found a story with a picture of one of the scopes in question:

    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Military/2010/0122/Trijicon-sights-How-the-Jesus-gun-misfired

    And as you can see, the “quotations” in questions are extremely small, and buried under the rest of the part number. There is simply no way any normal person would ever even look at that number twice, much less notice that a small part of it was a bible verse notation.

    In favor of good skepticism, lets actually know what we’re “debating” over before we go and blow our collective stacks. These are not entire verses carved into the side of the scope. They’re not even normal verse references (it doesn’t say John 3:16 on the side of the scope), they are very small, out of the way “Easter Eggs” hidden in such a manner that no one that doesn’t know to look for them can even find them.

  206. @ Chris:

    It is not the specifics of the citations that are the problem, it is the fact that they are there.

    All it takes is one person of the right (sic) mindset to know about them, and they suddenly become a huge deal.

  207. Darth Robo

    Hugh Thomas

    >>>”Our nation was founded as a CHRISTIAN nation and our Founding Fathers assumed (poor deluded gentlement) that their descendants would remember that.”

    Oh, so THAT’S why the founders COMPLETELY FORGOT to mention it was a “Christian Nation” in the Constitution when they very well could have easily done so if that was their intent? And THAT’S why Jefferson talked about separation of church and state in his letter to the Danbury baptists? And THAT’S why the signers of the Treaty of Tripoli had no problem with article 11 which says the US “is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion”?

    Here’s the First Amendment (in case you don’t know it)

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” (emphasis mine)

    Any mention of Christianity in there? Anywhere? Anywhere at all? In fact can anyone find “Yay Christianity” anywhere in the Constitution? What’s that? No? They just forgot then, huh?

    >>>”Understand one thing, I AM a Christian extremist”

    Uh, yes we noticed.

    >>>”for without accepting Christ, you will go to Hell(that is my faith).”

    Have as much faith as you like. (shrug) But YOU do not get to say who goes to hell and who doesn’t. Why? You’re not God. You’re not His favourite buddy. You don’t know more about Him than anyone else does. God didn’t grant you special powers or a promotion over anyone else to play God’s judge. You’re just a man with an opinion. That’s all. Other people don’t care what your baseless religious opinions are. Sorry if you don’t like that.

    >>>”The Church of England is the reason the U.S. Constitution has the “separation of church and state clause” and is known as the Episcopal church in the U.S.”

    Really? Ya think? Since the Church of England were supporters of the Divine Right of Kings, and had been for many centuries? And America had not long declared itself independent from the British?

    >>>”The big difference between the Moslems and us Christians, they want to see all non-believers go to their version of hell.”

    And apparently you’re just like them:

    >>>”From the number of willing morons who so blithely tie bombs to their persons and blow themselves to their idea of paradise (I hope they enjoy their surprise hot reception)”

    This the last Crusade then?

  208. Dr Cy Coe in NL

    @ kuhnigget 144: I must have misread your comment and I apologise for doing so and for using of the word moronic. Reading all these comments I got the overall impression that the people in the military get less respect than they (imho) deserve and this caused me to read more into your post than was there.

  209. Apology accepted.

    I have no disrespect for the people in the military, more or less, rather it’s the purpose to which our military is (constantly) put to use. Vast difference.

  210. Mount

    Wow, you guys have no idea what you’re talking about do you? Exactly what laws did Trijicon break? The part number of one particular model is “REFLEX242COR4:6″ That’s breaking a federal law? Really, which one? The separation of church and state argument is a really weak stretch! Any company should be able to use whatever naming convention they choose, there is nothing wrong with the way they did this, and it didn’t suddenly become wrong when the DOD decided to buy a few. And this is decade old news by the way…

    Does the owner of a bookstore commit a federal crime when the military buys a Bible or two?

    My dog-tags said “CHRISTIAN” on them. Burn me at the stake!

    This is worse than when those people screamed bloody murder when they found the word “trick” in those hacked climate scientist’s emails. This is just a knee jerk reaction to anything religious. Any slim excuse to throw a stone is good enough reason aint it? I love a lot of your stuff Phill, but you really are just as extremist and reactionary as a lot of the nut jobs you persistently fight against.

    Whether or not it is ‘right’ to have references to Bible verses cast into the aluminum housing of a combat optic is totally subjective. The biggest thing you should complain about is the irony. And it is ironic. It would really be no different then putting a verse of the Koran in the part number of a scientific telescope; feel about it how you will, but it’s neither right nor wrong, and it’s not illegal.

    For those of you interested in the facts (Which I doubt there are few of you here when it relates to religion and/or guns) here is the history of the Bible verses on the gun sights:

    -Glyn Bindon started Trijicon around 1983. He is the one that started the tradition of including Bible verses in the part numbers.

    -All of Trijicon’s sights are self illuminated, either with batteries, light collecting fiber optics, or with radioactive tritium. All of the Bible verses have something to do with light.

    -The FBI started using Trijicon’s sights in 1988.

    -Glyn Bindon died in 2003 when he crashed his plane. His company continued his tradition of using the Bible references since his death.

    -Glyn Bindon, when working with Grumman Aerospace as a Cognizant Engineer, participated in the design of the Lunar Lander’s quadruple redundant engine control for the decent and ascent engines.

    Yup, what a criminal! Too bad he’s already dead so we cant punish him along with his company for allowing the military to buy his product!

  211. Radigan

    Sure is butthurt Christians in here.

  212. I’ve got some Trijicon sights and they are wonderful,but Trijicon
    should uphold their end of it by providing scopes that don’t have the inscriptions.
    rely what were they thinking

  213. What difference does it make? when these people in Afghanistan are fighting for Islam or maybe terrorism definitely they are against America. Whether America is Christian or not as many statesmen would say it is not and in accordance to the constitution as they say, we face the fact that America is having war with this group in Afghanistan. This is not a religious war, real moslems said they are not for war because Quran is for peace so is the bible. So in reality religion has nothing to do with it. When the scopes were bought with those inscriptions then let it be, people going to war also brings some Bible and others Quoran.

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