A Pentagon spokesman says there is nothing wrong or illegal with the armed forces using rifle sights inscribed with references to biblical passages.
Air Force Maj. John Redfield, a spokesman for US Central Command, said the sights from Michigan-based Trijicon — which are now the target of controversy following news reports earlier this week — “don’t violate the [military] ban on proselytizing because there’s no effort to distribute the equipment beyond the US troops who use them,” the Associated Press reports.
“This situation is not unlike the situation with US currency,” Maj. Redfield said. “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.”
Meanwhile, a lawyer and former training officer for the US Army Reserves says that any attempt by the US government to cancel its contracts with an arms supplier that enscribes biblical references on its rifle sights would be “discrimination.”
“I think if this private company wants to include in a long series of serial numbers some sequence of the numbers and letters at the end that have some sort of biblical reference, that’s their right to do that,” Hiram Sasser, a lawyer with the Liberty Legal Institute and a former US Army Reserves training officer, told Doocy. “Frankly, I think it would be discrimination to do something to try to cancel their contract simply because of that.”
Doocy quoted the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which has come out in opposition to Trijicon’s practice, saying that “it’s wrong and it violates the Constitution and federal laws, as well, regarding separation of church and state.”
“Well if that were true, then we would not be allowed to display the Declaration of Independence in the National Archives, because of its explicit reference to a creator,” Sasser said.
Doocy also addressed the claim by the US military that it didn’t know about the biblical references on the rifle sights. TalkingPointsMemo’s Justin Elliott argues that the military couldn’t have been unaware of the biblical inscriptions, because gun enthusiasts have been discussing them for years.
“They’ve been doing this for years and years, and for the military now to say ‘we didn’t know that it was on there,’ what do you make of that?” Doocy asked.
“The big brass never knows what the soldiers on the ground know about what the serial numbers are,” Sasser said.
He added: “The scope that these are printed on is a light-amplification scope. If you look at those biblical references, they always have to do with amplifying light. This is no different than any other play on words.”
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation argues that the biblical verses make it more difficult to prosecute the war against terrorism.
“It allows the Mujahedeen, the Taliban, al Qaeda and the insurrectionists and jihadists to claim they’re being shot by Jesus rifles,” the group’s president, Michael Weinstein, said.
Trijicon is a sponsor of God’s Great Outdoors, a radio ministry for Christian hunters on which the company’s sales director, Tom Munson, has been interviewed. Trijicon’s wordmark is listed as a “featured sponsor” on the radio show’s Web site.
This video is from Fox News’ Fox & Friends, broadcast Jan. 19, 2010.