Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jesus Rifles?

I went to Washington yesterday.  In fact I drove to Maryland and took the subway the rest of the way in. As I was entering the station, a nice man offered me a paper called "Express" so I took it to read on the 33 minute drive to downtown DC.

The Headline was about the plight of the 10's of thousands of Haitian Orphans. A devastating tragedy to be sure but it was what I read on page 5, under the section heading "Nation" that caught my attention.  The title of the piece was "U.S. Forces have the Bible in Sight"  The article was drawing attention to the fact that some of the telescoping sights which the soldiers use in Afghanistan and Iraq contain a small scripture reference, like  JN 8:12 that completes the serial number.  "When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life'" They have been using these scopes since 1995 and apparently now somehow has drawn attention to this and is none-to-pleased.  The president of the Military religious Freedom foundation says the inscription on the sights, could give the Taliban and other enemy forces a propaganda tool, that American Troops are Christian Crusaders invading Muslim countries. He continues to say that "I don't have to wonder for a nanosecond how the American public would react, if citations from the Koran were being inscribed onto the U.S. armed forces' gun sights instead of New Testament citations.

I have been dwelling on this article for a couple days now, and had a great discussion about it with a couple friends tonight.  First of all, having visited Washington and Philadelphia this week and now better understanding it's history, I have come to believe that as a country and as a people, we were better off, when we stood on the biblical foundations the country was built upon.  Almost every artifact, including the Liberty Bell is inscribed with scripture.  The more we stray from these biblical principles the worse off we seem.  Whether you are Christian or atheist or anything in between. the truth remains that the United States of America was founded on Biblical Principles.  So would people be upset if the Koran was being inscribed onto US gun sights - yes indeed.

Please do not misunderstand me, I believe everyone has the right to their own beliefs.  I believe in liberty and freedom for all, but that includes my liberties and freedoms.  It seems to me, that the rights of Christians in the past few years have been abdicated so that another persons rights may be elevated. If one soldier is Christian and is okay, or delighted to have the JN 8:12 verse referenced on their gun then let it be so. However at the same time if a Hindu or Jehovah Witness did not want it, then give them a different scope.  The fight apparently is for freedom and yet as Christians fight for freedom, their freedom and rights seem to be diminishing.

At the same time, I am not convinced that having the scripture verse on the scope of a gun that is intended to kill someone sends the right message about our faith either.  I am a military brat, raised on Air Force bases, and I support the brave men and women who serve our country.  This post is not a commentary on whether or not they should be fighting.  I do not stand in judgment of those employed under the authority of our government., nor am I making the argument that soldiers engaged in war are any less Christian. I understand defending oneself against harm, as well as defending one's country from attackers.  I also hold to the biblical commandment of thou shalt not kill and love your enemies. Are there exceptions?  Is war one of them?   Is it okay to kill as a defense?  Is it okay to kill as an attacker?   Personally I would have a hard time holding a gun in one hand and a bible in the other.   It is a tough situation and these are tough questions.

On one hand I think the best thing is to allow each soldier to carry with them, or inscribe on their personal belongings whatever biblical verse they choose for their own encouragement and strength alone as "U.S. military rules specifically prohibit the proselytizing of any religion in Iraq or Afghanistan and were drawn up in order to prevent criticism that the U.S. was embarked on a religious "Crusade" in its war against al Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents."  On the other hand it frustrates me that once again we seem to be conceding defeat and taking steps backwards from the biblical heritage that has built and sustained this great country.

Trijicon is a Christian Based company who clearly states on their website that one of their values is that "We believe that America is great when its people are good. This goodness has been based on biblical standards throughout our history and we will strive to follow those morals." As of this morning they made the following statement "We will remove the inscription reference on all U.S. military products that are in the company's factory that have already been produced, but have yet to be shipped" and "Provide 100 modification kits to forces in the field to remove the reference on the already forward deployed optical sights." "Trijicon has proudly served the U.S. military for more than two decades, and our decision to offer to voluntarily remove these references is both prudent and appropriate" ABC - Jesus Rifles

This article has screated so many deep questions.  It has elicited great conversation and though I have my opinions, I do not claim to have any right answers. What I am interested though is your opinion. Do you think the discreet verse reference should have been removed? More importantly I would love to read comments on how a Christian could balance their biblical understanding of thou shall not kill and love your enemies with  modern day war.  What is the criteria that establishes a war to be just in the eyes of God?  Feel free to leave your comments below.

No comments:

Post a Comment