Scott Ritsema
January 19, 2010

As if there weren't enough instances where the American Empire is associated with the faith of Jesus (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for starters) another sad story has leaked into the media (see ABC story here), this time about Bible verses being inscribed on the sights of high-powered military-issued rifles. Yes, you read that correctly.

The Michigan company, Trijicon, which has been awarded with Pentagon contracts in the hundreds of millions of dollars, produces the rifle sights with Bible verse references stamped on them, and they stand by the practice–largely without challenge from the Christian community.

Company spokespersons have defended the practice; however, the ABC expose did not ask them about the shocking irony of putting Bible references from Jesus who preached non-violence on a weapon whose sole purpose it is to maim and kill those who Christ commanded us to love and serve. Unfortunately, ABC is left to do the job of exposing this, as there have not been Christian voices speaking against this practice, even though it tragically provides a Christian veneer for the aggressive, imperial violence that is taking place overseas.

The media rightly focuses on the unconstitutional nature of the practice of stamping Bible messages on state-issued weapons. Indeed this is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment–the state should not be supporting a religion. Also, ABC reports on the concerns that if America's wars are soaked in Christian language, then the Islamic world will perceive the wars as religious crusades.

These are very real and pertinent concerns. However, the focus on the constitutionality of the practice and the concern about enraging an Islamic enemy misses the point and dodges the most insidious aspect of the scandal.

The biggest problem with this–from a Christian point of view–is that it misrepresents Jesus. Where Christ should be preached from a posture of loving servitude, through this practice his name is being associated with warfare and killing. Where his Kingdom of love is supposed to transcend human governments, the U.S. government is once again baptized as the march of God on earth. It's time for Trijicon to remove the Bible verses from the rifle sights. I humbly ask them to please reconsider the kind of distorted picture of God they are painting for the world. Does Jesus, who called on his followers to love their enemies, really sanction the military occupation of Afghanistan?

One former Air Force officer tells of soldiers who've blown the whistle on their commanders who have called the weapons "spiritually transformed firearm[s] of Jesus Christ." What a sad view of Christianity that is being presented to the world. Firearms of Jesus Christ? Jesus is the one who told Peter to put his sword back in its place, and whose sacrificial death has inspired countless non-violent martyrs to do the same. High-powered military arms are in no way "of Jesus Christ." Stamping a Bible verse on an instrument of gruesome death and destruction does not make it "spiritually transformed."

I hope that Christian leaders speak against this practice, as it represents just another form of legitimizing the Empire under the cloak of pseudo-Christian trappings.

I pray that Christians would show the light of truth to the world that God is a God of love, and that he calls his children to live in a way that is best for them–in non-violence, non-coercion, peace, servitude, and love.



  1. Bill says:

    Lots of people have been venting emotional reactions to this story. Let's get the facts straight. It was the practice of this company, founded by a Christian, to include Biblical text references as the part of serial numbers of the parts it produced. What exactly was on the parts in question? The one cited by ABC read "ACO64X32JN8:12." This in tiny print that few are going to notice. Only the obsessive-compulsive are going to be reading serial numbers on anything they own. Few Christians are even going to notice the reference to John 8:12. No non-Christian would make the connection, in the military or without. This was a way the Christian who started this company attempted to connect his faith with what he was doing. It had meaning only for him–it wasn't intended as an advertisement or an evangelistic tool.

  2. Scott says:

    I don't mean to judge the intentions of the Christian man who put the stamps on there. Maybe he never intended for them to be read. But now that they've been discovered, and now that the Bible is associated with the war, wouldn't removing them be the right thing to do at this point? Especially given how they're being used by military officers who are calling them "spiritually transformed weapons"? It seems to me that silence at this time would be tacit approval of what is going on.

%d bloggers like this: