Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Jesus Rifle

This stuff just keeps on coming. When I wrote the article on World Opinion, Afghanistan, Haiti and Google,” and then The Bush Effect: The Activist Supreme Court Judges, Indiana and California, and Gibson, Tippecanoe and Alameda Counties,” I had no knowledge about “The Jesus Rifle.” I didn't see the ABC News investigation report about Trijicon coding Bible verses on their rifle scopes. That report appears to have been shown on ABC Nightline and I don't stay up that late.

The Michigan company, Trijicon, is contracted to make rifle scopes for military rifles being used in Afghanistan and Iraq for both our military and the police and military of those countries. Trijicon codes New Testament verses on its scopes, like these two (New International Version):

  • 2 Corinthians 4:6 - “For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of the darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

  • John 8:12 - “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Where do I start with this little news gem? When the world gets news of this, if it hasn't already, its opinion of us will be that we are on a “crusade,” no matter that President Obama says we aren't. And, when Muslim police and military in Iraq and Afghanistan get wind of this, if they haven't already, they will stop using the rifles... and probably revolt against our advisers teaching them. So much for wining hearts and minds in those, or any other Muslim, country. It looks, smells, and walks like a crusade to me.

This news is already stirring up our armed forces, some for and some against using the scopes. The Stars and Stripes, the “official” Armed Forces newspaper and which is surprisingly unbiased, prints several letters from servicemen and women on the subject. Just do a browse here to read letters to the editor. Personally, I stand with those against Trijicon.

And then there is that small “Constitution” matter of separating church and state. Trijicon is being paid $660 million to sell the scopes to the U. S. Military. I can see another constitutional battle forming for the Supreme Court to decide which these little inscriptions on the scopes are. Is this “political” speech or does this violate “the separation of church and state?” My bet is on the former, that it will be decided that the company can put anything it wants on the scopes because it is “free speech.” But, alas, by that decision, the Constitutional separation of church and state will be erased from the Constitution.

One of my favorite bloggers, David Kaiser, who is, by the way, an honest-to-God historian, unlike me, says we're going backward, but it's his opinion that we're not yet Fascist. I'm not so sure. Fascism doesn't come in one big wave; it comes by taking little chunks and chinks in the Constitutional armor we go by through nationalistic use of religion, sort of like what Nazi Germany did in the 1920s and 30s.

I've read the Bible a few times, and I never got the sense that those verses were to be used or interpreted that way, to be used to “shine light” on a killing field. In fact, if I could get Jesus to tell me what verse he'd prefer on the rifle, and since we're cherry picking from the New Testament anyway, I think He would like Luke 23:34: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” He may, in his absolute astonishment about Trijicon's use of the Bible, give us a whole new verse of choice words.

I wonder what God is telling Pat Robertson. But, Robertson seems to have a translation problem so I doubt that he'll get it right.


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