Freedom From Religion Foundation Objects to ‘Jesus Rifles’

"Some soldiers call them 'Jesus rifles.' " That's how the ABC News report started on how a company named Trijicon Inc. in Wixom, Mich., sells rifle scopes engraved with bible verses to the U.S. Marine Corps in mass quantities.

The revelation stirred cries of foul in many quarters, but nowhere were protests as vehement as at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a 14,000-member national state-church watchdog based in Madison, Wis.

"The clear message this sends is that the Pentagon expects soldiers to shoot Muslims (or others) in the names of Jesus," said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

"This violation conjures up not only a bloodthirsty Crusade against Muslims in the name of Christianity, but the practice of Nazis, who inscribed "Gott Mit Uns' (God With Us) on the buckle of uniform belts," Gaylor said.

Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert finds the irony in anything. He giddily imagined U.S. military procurement officers buying supplies of "Promised Land Mines." (Trijicon's actual motto, from its Web site, is "Brilliant Aiming Solutions.")

"Carving biblical slogans on gunsights may be perfectly acceptable to evangelical Christians, but it's a travesty to people who honor the constitutional separation of state and church," said Dan Barker, Foundation co-president. "And what does it say to non-Christian U.S. military members bearing arms? That the American Taliban is on their side?"

The Foundation asked Secretary Gates to replace all such rifle sights and to make Trijicon bear the costs, not the U.S. taxpayers. The Defense Department should also adopt a proactive policy to ensure that religious messages are kept off all military equipment. The Foundation also seeks the firing or resignation of the person or persons who approved the proselytizing product.

"Religion has run amok at the Pentagon, but this newly exposed scandal goes beyond a simple state-church breach," the letter to Gates said. "This longstanding practice, which also occurred on your watch, endangers not only national security but our secular form of democracy."

The Foundation also sent an Action Alert to its members so they could weigh in on the violation, and suggests phone calls today to the White House comment line (below) to ask for accountability from the Obama administration.

The Honorable Dr Robert M Gates
Secretary of Defense
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington DC 20301-1400
Web-mail form (select the "Ask a Question/Make a Comment" tab to register your opinion)

The Honorable John McHugh
Secretary of the Army
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington DC 20301-1400

General James T. Conway
Commandant of the Marine Corps
[email protected]

Pressure White House

White House comment line
(202) 456-1111 (Web feedback form)

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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