22 Jan 2010

US firm backs down over Bible codes on guns

5:06 pm on 22 January 2010

The United States firm that supplied military gunsights inscribed with Bible references, including some used by New Zealand troops, has offered to provide kits to remove them.

The US-manufactured gunsights are being used in Afghanistan.

Michigan-based company Trijicon says it will supply kits to remove the scripture references on all US military products that have not yet been shipped and stop inscribing them on gunsights in the future.

The Defence Force said earlier that the military has been buying the gunsights since 2004 and was not aware the inscriptions were there. It intended to remove the markings on the 260 sights being used by New Zealand troops.

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp says the biblical inscriptions are inappropriate and could raise religious tensions.

Markings include JN8:12, a reference to a passage in the New Testament book of John.

'Spiritually transformed firearm'

Meanwhile, a spokesman for a US lobby group, Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said it had earlier received an email from a soldier complaining about the inscriptions.

Mikey Weinstein told Summer Report that the Muslim American soldier in Afghanistan said several hundred troops had to listen to a senior officer screaming at them that their rifle was a "spiritually transformed firearm of Jesus Christ."

He says that Trijicon, a private company, has made it clear it is a fundamentalist Christian organisation, but that that should not be carried over into its partnership with the Pentagon.

The company has a $US660m contract with the US Marine Corps and other contracts with the US Army to supply the sights - just under 300,000 of which are used in the field, according to the Pentagon.