Trijicon ACOG series sight on an M240 machine gun. At the end is an abbreviated reference to Psalms 27:1. One translation of the verse says, "The Lord is my light and my salvation/whom shall I fear?/The Lord is the stronghold of my life/of whom shall I be afraid?" (Rob Curtis / Staff)
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This rifle bears a reference to John 8:12. One translation of the verse: "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.' " (Rob Curtis / Staff)
A company under fire for etching biblical references on rifle scopes used by the U.S. military said Thursday it will stop the practice, and offered to provide modification kits to the Pentagon to enable their removal on existing optics.
Michigan-based Trijicon Inc. made the announcement in a statement released by Levick Strategic Communications, a Washington, D.C.-based firm that specializes in crisis management.
"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," Trijicon president Stephen Bindon said in a statement. "We want to thank the Department of Defense for the opportunity to work with them and will move as quickly as possible to provide the modification kits for deployment overseas."
Trijicon also said it will remove the inscriptions from all products it has made for the military, but not yet shipped, and that it will provide foreign military services that purchased Trijicon products the same options.
Company officials said Monday in a report on ABC News' "Nightline" news program that it included coded references to Bible passages on its products, including optics used by U.S. troops currently in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a statement released Tuesday, the company said it adopted the practice "as part of our faith and our belief in service to country."
The admission led to a maelstrom of media attention and criticism that the practice would allow Muslim extremists to claim that the U.S. is waging a holy war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Marine Corps officials said in a statement Tuesday they were "aware of the issue and concerned with how this may be perceived," and said they planned to meet with Trijicon.
The inscriptions gained attention on the company's Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight, which is mounted to M16A4 and M4 service rifles used by tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. In one example, an inscription included "JN8:12," a reference to John 8:12, a Christian gospel passage: "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
The inscription on another optic includes "2COR4:6," which refers to Second Corinthians 4:6 of the New Testament: "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
For more coverage and reaction, see next week's Military Times newspapers.