Trijicon Offers to Remove Bible References from Sights
Trijicon, the maker of the gun sight that has a Bible reference on it, has volunteered to remove the references and cease marking future sights to be used by the US and foreign governments. It will also provide free kits to remove the markings from those sights that have already been deployed. The company issued a press release that was picked up by Fox, CNN, and other news organizations.
The offer to pre-empt an official call for their removal, while unexpected, is actually an excellent public relations decision both from a business and faith perspective. It avoids a “confrontation” over contracts and religious controversy, and it permits Trijicon to be viewed as both forthright and amenable to its customer, even if it does not have to be. While some Christians in similar situations may dig their heels in, there is no moral imperative that requires Trijicon to refuse to accede to the feelings of its customer. Their offer alleviates the concerns of the military and diffuses the public scandal.
For its part, the stern government reaction (as noted by General Petraeus, at least) undermines those who have claimed this was an unConstitutional collusion to promote Christianity. US and foreign government officials have repeatedly said that the sights, which were bought commercially “off the shelf” (known as “COTS”), were purchased without any knowledge that they had any religious reference on them. Instead, they were purchased because they had the reputation for being an outstanding piece of equipment.
Thus, Michael Weinstein and his Military Religious Freedom Foundation can, in some part, claim victory for ‘forcing’ the ‘government’ to remove the references from its sights. It is a somewhat hollow victory, however, because while the MRFF capitalized on the publicity, Michael Weinstein insisted on making unsupported accusations that someone violated the Constitution and federal law. As those accusations are now demonstrably unsubstantiated, Weinstein can celebrate the result, but is also left looking foolish for making his usual grandiose accusations.
Despite this and Trijicon’s response, Weinstein continued to make wild and unsupported accusations (which, ironically, have not been carried by the press):
Trijicon’s outrageous practice of placing bible verse citations on military-issued gunsights for weapons was an unconstitutional disgrace…It is nothing short of a vile national security threat that…our military and its contractors time again [sic] resort to unlawful fundamentalist evangelical Christian practices, even on the battlefield.
As already pointed out, Weinstein continually contradicts himself about whether or not Trijicon, as a private company, can “violate” the Constitution. (For those that don’t remember, the Constitution restricts only the government.) While that double-speak was expected, it was shocking to see Weinstein denigrate the US military by accusing it of taking part in a “national security threat,” particularly since he has provided no evidence to support that statement.
Finally, Weinstein continues to display a bias against Christians as he, once again, has produced no evidence that fundamentalism or evangelical Protestantism played any part in this incident. However, this is consistent with Weinstein’s practice to date of assigning a Christian label to someone based on his definitions. Thus, regardless of the actual theological beliefs of the persons involved, Michael Weinstein has made the unilateral decision that they are “fundamentalist evangelical Christian[s].” For someone who so often relies on examples of historic religious prejudice, he doesn’t seem averse to demonstrating it himself.
Trijicon has reportedly produced impressive weapons accessories for years. It has also included Biblical references on those products for decades. The US military, and those of foreign nations, purchased those products for their renowned reputation. Though there is no evidence of any public complaint before today, Trijicon took the ‘high road’ and offered to remove the references.
Despite Michael Weinstein’s delusional conspiracy theories, there is no evidence that it was a surreptitious effort by either Trijicon or the US government to do anything other than provide US Soldiers with the best equipment available. Though the intensity of the negative reaction, even by US military leaders, was disappointing, Trijicon ultimately made an admirable decision that reflected well both on its business practice and its faith.
CNS News now carries a slightly tongue-in-cheek article covering Weinstein’s latest unsupported accusations, and includes the comment:
Thanks to the MRFF, the obscure sets of numbers and letters like 2COR4:6 and JN8:12 are now widely known to refer to New Testament verses.
A Washington Post “On Faith” column written by Michael Kessler debunks Weinstein’s claim of violations of federal law and the Constitution.
Update, 28 March 2010:
A military blog shows pictures of the references being removed, as well as the final product.