It was recently revealed that the U.S. military has spent $600 million to buy high-powered rifle sights inscribed with coded Christan references for use in Iraq and Afghanistan. One such mark — "JN8:12" — refers to John 8:12, which reads, "Whoever follows [Jesus Christ] will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." On the defense, the Army claims it hadn't noticed the inscriptions, while Michigan-based manufacturer Trijicon says it's always produced rifle sights bearing Bible codes to express the company's "values." Did the U.S. Army mess up? (Watch an ABC report about the risks of provoking Jihadists with these so-called "Jesus rifles")
Carrying "Christian guns" into battle is sacrilegious: This must be the fundamentalist version of Jesus, says Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic, "a war-making torturer of Muslims." It sure isn't mine. It's bad enough to entangle the government in religion — but it's just wrong to put "the teachings of Jesus" on a gun.
"Killing in the name of Jesus"
It's not like the sights were customized for the Army: "This is not a government conspiracy to push religion," says Dan Riehl in Riehl World View, unless someone can find evidence that the Army specifically bought these off-the-shelf products because they featured bible citations. Sure, the government could special order the gun sights "without said engraving," but who can say how much that would push up the costs?
"Somebody better get Andy a tranquilizer"
The Pentagon should get its guns elsewhere: Even if the Pentagon's claim that it never noticed these abbreviated Bible verses is true, says Don Byrd at the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty website, it's still "an outrageous abuse" of tax dollars, and the only way to set things right is to cancel all contracts with Trijicon immediately. What good does it do to have our diplomats tell the world we're not at war with Islam, when our soldiers carry "guns that proclaim otherwise?"
There are better ways to reflect American values: Tijicon's "irritating" claims that the Biblical inscriptions "are about American values and the defense of individual freedom," says Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns, and Money, "would be more plausible if the inscriptions referred to, say, constitutional amendments." But leaving aside the church-state issues, "what kind of person wants to think of Jesus while he's shooting someone?"
"Because Jeebus has always been about the shooting..
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- 6 tiny scientific mistakes that created huge disasters
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- 10 things you need to know today: November 21, 2014
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1: 10 major differences between the book and the movie
- What could happen if the Supreme Court rules against ObamaCare
- The dangerously childish morality of liberal ObamaCare supporters
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The slippery slope of Twitter's attempts to stop harassment against women
Subscribe to the Week