Even though U.S. military rules specifically prohibit the proselytizing of any religion in Afghanistan or Iraq, it was revealed this week that a military contractor has been printing references to Bible verses on high-powered rifle sights used by soldiers in those wars.
When a soldier looks through the scope on a rifle, it contains a coded reference like “ACO64X32JN8:12.” The first eight characters refer to the manufacturing data about the scope but the last five refer to a Biblical passage.
In this example, it’s John 8:12, which states, “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
First revealed by ABC News, this flagrant violation of rules is done by Trijicon, a Michigan-based company that has a $660 million contract to provide 800,000 scopes to the Marine Corps and additional contracts to provide them to the U.S. Army.
A Pentagon spokesman lamely defended Trijicon’s inscriptions.
Air Force Maj. John Redfield told reporters the snippets “don’t violate the (military) ban on proselytizing because there’s no effort to distribute the equipment beyond the U.S. troops who use them.
“This situation is not unlike the situation with U.S. currency.
Are we going to stop using money because the bills have ‘In God We Trust’ on them? As long as the sights meet the combat needs of troops, they’ll continue to be used.”
News flash, Maj. Redfield: “In God We Trust” was first used on paper currency in 1957, as the result of a letter-writing campaign organized by a conservative Catholic priest in New York.
Our union seemed to do just fine for 181 years without it.
Furthermore, the “God” on currency doesn’t specify a Judeo-Christian god. In fact, when a U.S. District Court ruled in October on a lawsuit filed by an atheist who didn’t like the phrase on currency, the court wrote the motto “is of a patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise.”
That argument, of course, cannot be made about specific passages in the Bible.
Like many people, I don’t want my tax dollars spent promoting any religion.
And if I were risking my butt serving my country in the deserts of Iraq or the mountains of Afghanistan, I would resent having this cutesy Biblical reference pop into my view as I was trying to do my job.
Not only is the inscription completely unnecessary, it’s an insult to the people of other faiths and to atheists serving in our Armed Forces.
Worse, it’s this type of zealotry that Muslim fundamentalists and jihadists hoped would occur in response to their actions. Extremists in the Islamic faith view Christians as crusaders bent on invading their lands and converting or killing their followers. When Christian fundamentalists here pull these types of stunts, it justifies that viewpoint and helps win converts for the jihadists.
“It allows the Mujahedeen, the Taliban, al Qaeda, and the insurrectionists and jihadists to claim they’re being shot by Jesus rifles,” said a spokesman for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
The Pentagon initially tried to claim it wasn’t aware of the inscriptions, but gun enthusiasts reportedly have discussed them on the Internet for years.
Trijicon’s action reminds me of the same type of silliness as the Catholic League’s recent condemnation of the movie Avatar. League President Bill Donohue criticizes the sci-fi film because its aliens worship nature.
Donohue is one of the many Christian media types who complain their faith is under attack from films, songs and books. In reality, what they seek is special deference for their religion while they regularly attack other faiths and philosophies.
Let’s keep a few things in mind: A full 76 percent of Americans identify as Christian. Try walking more than two blocks in any city or town, and you can’t help running into a church. That’s a far cry from being attacked.
What zealots like Donohue and Trijicon are really worried about, I think, is losing their dominance. Polls show the number of U.S. Christians has dropped by 10 percent during the past two decades.
And although 92 percent of Americans believe in a higher power, a full 70 percent believe eternal salvation can be achieved through multiple religious paths.
In other words, stop trying to shove your beliefs down our throats.
An unusual pairing of Cincinnati City Council members is teaming up to delay the implementation of the city’s environmental protection ordinance.
Laure Quinlivan, a Democrat, and Jeff Berding, an Independent, have co-sponsored a motion that’s pending before council to delay implementation until February 2011. The pair wants a cost-benefit analysis of the law conducted before it takes effect.
Slated to take effect last month, the law was touted by backers like former Vice Mayor David Crowley as a way to ensure the city’s poorest residents are protected from heavily polluting businesses.
But the law wasn’t funded in the current budget, and Berding has said the law is unneeded because companies already are regulated by the state — which happens to be the Chamber of Commerce’s stance. Quinlivan has said the law probably couldn’t get funding until next year anyhow.
The law would establish a board that would review permits for potentially polluting businesses to build or expand operations in certain city neighborhoods. Supporters say the Chamber’s fears are overblown because specific categories of businesses are exempted including office buildings, residential developments and most commercial projects.
Some question Quinlivan’s stance, as she campaigned as a “green” candidate when running for council last year.
Speaking of Berding, he might be ready to come out of the political closet.
Berding, who served two terms on council as a Democrat, was unendorsed by the party last summer before winning a third term as an Independent.
Some Dems have long complained about Berding’s position on budget issues like keeping swimming pools and recreation centers open and providing money for social services. They’ve long alleged he’s actually more Republican in nature, getting campaign cash from a GOP cabal like Bengals owner Mike Brown and the uber-conservative Lindner family.
Now Berding has hired a Republican, Kathryn Cascella, to join his council staff. Cascella isn’t just a Republican in Name Only (RINO) either — she used to work at the party’s headquarters.
CityBeat e-mailed Berding to ask if he would seek to regain the Democratic nomination in 2011 or perhaps switch to the GOP, but he didn’t reply.
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