Jesus Rifles

The headline from ABC News is certainly attention grabbing — “No More Jesus Rifles.” Weapons supplied to US forces in the Middle East with “Bible Codes,” which are used in combat against Muslims is being widely condemned, predictably, as evoking the Crusades, inflaming Islamic perceptions of Western religious imperialism, and ignoring the constitutional separation of church and state. Try a Google search on the name of the company, Trijicon, for a host of articles.

Turns out this Michigan-based company has been supplying rifle scopes (not the rifles themselves) to US and other militaries (New Zealand, Australia) that have a biblical reference as a part of the serial number. My first thought was that the references would be like those uttered by the Sniper in Saving Private Ryan, such as Psalms 144:1-2.

Turns out, though, that 1) the “Bible Codes” are actually only a few digits and the end of the serial number stamped, albeit prominently, on the scope — “2COR4:6” and “JN8:6” for example; and 2) the references are not to warriors or enemies, or even really to Jesus, but to light. The Huffington Post reports, “Trijicon’s rifle sights use tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, to create light and help shooters hit what they’re aiming for.” And they have been putting these “Bible Codes” in their serial numbers for years. So “light” on the scope refers not to the Gospel, but to an element. It is a sales pitch.

While all this strikes me as a very bad idea (and the company, predictably, is supplying a “fix”), this raises some interesting questions:

Does slapping an barely noticeable string of letters and numbers on the scopes really turn these into “Jesus Rifles”?

Why didn’t anyone notice before?

Isn’t this just another example of someone using the Bible for something completely unrelated to its context, goal, and meaning?

Shouldn’t we be as upset at the horrible “application” of the biblical texts?

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