One of the more bizarre stories I’ve seen in the military news of late. The British military has discovered that 400 recently purchased Advanced Combat Optical Gunsights, made by a US firm owned by a devout Christian, bear scriptural chapter and verse references within their part numbers. Some have raised concerns that this story will be exploited by jihadist propaganda.

The story is covered here in the Daily Mail. A UK Ministry of Defence press release states: “The MOD was not aware at the time of purchase of the night-sights from US company Trijicon that the markings had any broader significance. Our priority is to buy the best-performing equipment available on the market. In this case, Trijicon were selected as they offered the best-performing optical sights. We are now exploring with Trijicon how best to proceed.”

Mad Padre’s opinion: Inappropriate. After Pat Robertson’s theological musings on Haiti, Christianity didn’t need this story.

0 Responses

  1. You beg the question: To be "inappropriate" is still sometimes permissible. Do you think that actions should be taken, or do you feel that, while inappropriate, the markings are not impermissible?

  2. Thanks for reading and for pushing me to be clear, JD. I'll go further and say that a military issued piece of combat kit is not the place for any religious symbol or reference. Theologically, I don't think its permissable for a weapon or weapon part to bear the Word of God or the name of the Prince of Peace. I believe that in a fallen world, weapons are to be used by Christians with remorse and only as a last resort, for self defence, in a just war, etc. The owner of the gunsight company may have felt that he was doing the work of an evangelist by putting scripture verses into his part numbers, but the appearance of these verses suggests religious approval and sanction for the use of the gunsight and weapon. In a pluralistic society and military like the UK's or like Canada's, and given that we are fighting religious extremists, I think issuing these gunsights is impermissable.

    As a chaplain, I would understand if a soldier wanted to put a scripture verse or a cross on his gear to inspire him, but that would be a personal choice by that soldier and I would want to dialogue with him or her about it.

  3. "the appearance of these verses suggests religious approval and sanction for the use of the gunsight and weapon."

    On this point we will disagree. I do not think the military should go out of its way to purchase materials with religious associations for non-religious purposes. However, the mere presence of religious associations on government equipment does not inherently generate "approval or sanction."

    Similarly, the presence of a Chaplain on a combat mission does not imply any form of religious sanction for the combat that is occurring. Just because someone may misperceive something does not mean we need to surrender to their personal offense.

    The military doesn't have to endorse the message of the Biblical references, but they also don't need to apologize for something that was incidental to their acquisition.