What Would Jesus Shoot? U.S. Guns in Afghanistan and Iraq Bear Biblical Inscriptions Praising Christ

(AP/Rasheen Douglas, Defense Dept.)
(AP/Rasheen Douglas, Defense Dept.)
WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) A U.S. weapons maker is supplying American troops in mostly Muslim Afghanistan and Iraq with rifle sights that bear citations from the New Testament in praise of Jesus Christ, leading some to worry the weapons will give ammunition to the enemy.

Photo: In Iraq, a M-4 carbine assault rifle which has references to Bible verses on it.

"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,"' says one inscription, a passage taken from John 8:12.
Another gunsight reads 2COR4:6, denoting the verse "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of 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."

Photo: A military assault rifle bearing a reference to a Bible verse.

The Michigan company Trijicon said it has been stamping rifle sights with scripture citations for 30 years, and has never received complaints until now.

But some advocates of separation of church and state are questioning whether the markings violate military restrictions against proselytizing.

A spokesman for U.S. Central Command, which manages military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, said the inscribed sights don't violate the 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," said the spokesman, Air Force Maj. John Redfield. "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."

The telescoping sights allow troops to pinpoint the enemy day or night.

But Michael "Mikey" Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, says the biblically inscribed gun sights could give the Taliban and other enemy forces a propaganda tool: the claim that American troops are Christian crusaders invading Muslim countries.

Weinstein told ABC News, "It allows the Mujahedeen, the Taliban, al Qaeda and the insurrectionists and jihadists to claim they're being shot by Jesus rifles."

"I don't have to wonder for a nanosecond how the American public would react if citations from the Koran were being inscribed onto these U.S. armed forces gun sights instead of New Testament citations," Weinstein said.

Army officials said Tuesday they will investigate whether Trijicon violates federal rules by stamping the rifle sights with biblical references. Marine Corps acquisition officials said they plan to meet with the Wixom, Mich. defense contractor to discuss future purchases.

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK: Should American troops use weapons that bear biblical markings?