Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Hard Truth From Orlando

There’s a big story on Christian Bible references engraved
on U.S. gun sights by the manufacturer is in the news today.
A practice for some years (and an open ‘secret’ on the Internet
and in military circles) is the placing of Biblical verse references
on gun sights manufactured and sold to the U.S. military by
Trijicon. It’s a clever idea – kind of like being a kid again and
decoding a message with your magic decoder ring – only in this
case, you need a Christian Bible instead of the ring. Yeah, it’s
kind of cool when you have nothing else to do and the biggest
enemy a soldier has (per Rudyard Kipling) is boredom. It
even plays to the violent video game mentality so prevalent in
our younger generation to have a reference that reads the
classic “If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out” or “There
shouldn’t be any divisions among you, but you must all learn
to think the same way and share the same opinions” from 1
Corinthians or “you should hand such a man over to the
Opposer for the destruction of his flesh” – also from
Corinthians. I mean, no one can top the Bible for great
rhetoric and pithy quotes for every occasion.
But there’s a problem with the practice. It’s illegal. And
it’s illegal for a reason. It’s a violation of Constitutional
Law – specifically, the First Amendment, and the U.S.
military is supposed to be an impartial enforcement
agency of that Constitutional law. Therefore, endorsing
this practice – or turning a blind eye to it, compromises
the integrity of our military mission, at home or overseas.
Worse still, it makes us hypocrites in the eyes of the
non-Christian world.

Scarier for Americans, though, it’s representative of a
deeper, more invidious situation developed in our military
hierarchy over the last 25 or so years – the unspoken but
real culture of mandatory Christianity in the American
Armed Forces.

An officer of the Central Command orchestrating the
ongoing war against terrorist and insurgency in
Afghanistan and Iraq and Pakistan -- some major,
but not the commander, who’s hopefully smarter than
that -- said he doesn’t see a problem with Bible verse
references on weapons. It’s just like “In God We Trust”
on the back of the U.S. dollar bill, he says. Basically, he
implies, “What’s the big deal?” I’ll just bet he’s a
member of the Christian Officers Society and he really
doesn’t see the big deal in proselytizing, or appearing to
proselytize, when the U.S. is engaged in a war against
an enemy who recruits against us because they’re on a
jihad – a holy war. He doesn’t see the practice of Bible
verses on weapons as fuel feeding the fire – or even as
a profound violation of the civil rights of American soldiers
by the endorsement of a particular religion’s credo on the
very equipment they’re required to carry.

He’s probably the same guy who doesn’t understand why
the ACLU keeps filing, and winning, lawsuits against schools
for prayer before games and classes, nativity scenes on
government property, the Ten Commandments in
courthouses – because he’s part of what many consider
the “majority” religion in this country. He fails to see any
harm in insisting everyone and everything meet a religious
standard, because after all, his is a real religion, but theirs isn’t.
And he’s also the kind of guy who is about to cost the U.S.
a ton of money in legal fees because he is part and parcel
of a culture of Christian fundamentalist military leaders
who continually violate the Constitution of the United
States to which they have sworn an oath. A former
White House Attorney, military man from a long family
history of military service, Mikey Weinstein, founder of
the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, reports that
he has been contacted by more than 5,000 active duty
and retired soldiers, many of whom served or serve in
Iraq, who told Weinstein that they were pressured by
their commanding officers to convert to Christianity.
And we’re not talking about the minority of American
soldiers who are Muslim or Jewish or atheist – we’re
talking about soldiers who just don’t subscribe to the
particular brand of evangelical Christianity espoused
by the military commanders engaged in this
discriminatory practice.

Seems we’re doomed to keep forgetting history – and not
just ancient history. In the 1800’s, the British had one
of the bloodiest mutinies in history when they packed
ammunition in animal grease and issued it to Hindu
soldiers in the employ of the British. The British
Christian officers didn’t see the big deal – it was cost
effective to prepare the ammunition this way. To the
Hindu soldiers, it was a deadly insult and sacrilege and
just underlined the reasons why the British should not
be allowed to impose their way of life on local populations
with utter disregard for indigenous culture, custom and
religion. At Fort Hood in the 1990’s, a group of soldiers
won a lawsuit which allowed them to practice their Wiccan
beliefs and rites on post property – the same rights
always enjoyed by Christian soldiers and Christian
chaplains – but rights only won by Jewish and other
minority soldiers in previous lawsuits years before.

We can’t show the Muslim world that we’re
and we’re not engaged in a religious war with them
when we openly subscribe to practices which impugn
our impartiality and dedication to freedom. We can’t
expect respect for our religious beliefs when we fail to
respect others. When a soldier puts on the uniform, he
is now a representative of all Americans – not just his
race, culture or religious belief. He represents true

So get rid of the Bible references on the weapon sights
or find a new secular manufacturer. Retire those sights
already issued and sell the old ones on E-Bay as
collectibles of politically incorrect military history.
American soldiers lead by example – let’s make sure
we’re setting the right one – not the religious one.

Florida Cracker


Eric said...

Congrats Frankie, it looks like you scared them off.

Dean said...

When the Christians start flying planes into buildings and hacking the heads off non-believers on live TV, I'll start losing days of sleep on this one. Not to say the Christians didn't take thousands of years to learn their lesson re: killing potential converts and "heretics" to prove their point, mind you...but they finally did. As religions go, I can probably, if given time, think of a few others that are further behind the times than Christianity, and of those, find one or two that possibly still espouse violence as a means to deal with non-believers...oh wait...that might be...Islam? You'll excuse me if I weep not for the poor, helpless, oppressed followers thereof...don't even for a SECOND confuse jihadism with going into battle with a bible verse on your weapon and a pocketful of money that reads "In God We Trust" on it.

The ACLU's once-honorable mission of keeping rights, written or implied, intact has become diluted by the you-spilled-my-coffee-you-owe-me-millions and the that-kid-who-sits-next-to-mine-in-school-said-Christmas-out-loud-his-parents-owe-me-millions crowds. The First Amendment to the Constitution basically states that there will not be a national religion or any federal opposition to a particular religion. It does NOT, however, state that residence in the United States guarantees you will go through life only exposed to signs, symbols, icons, logos, myths, parables, metaphors or imagery of your particular chosen religion.

I mean, honestly, I'm an atheist...does that mean I have the right to keep the ACLU busy suing every mention of every religion I stumble across in my everyday existence here in the States because "it offends me"? I was raised in a Methodist house...does that mean I get to kill/sue/harass all those Wesleyans, to include my parents?

Hey, if folks from what we call India had settled this place and the castoffs from Europe had been second-in-line, we might have Shiva or cows on our money and our IT support might just have been outsourced to keep it in perspective, and most of all......get over it.