Firm to remove Bible verses from gun sights
WASHINGTON - A Michigan defense contractor will voluntarily stop stamping references to Bible verses on combat rifle sights made for the US military, a major buyer of the company’s gear.
In a statement released yesterday, Trijicon of Wixom, Mich., says it is also providing to the armed forces free of charge modification kits to remove the Scripture citations from the telescoping sights already in use. Through multimillion dollar contracts, the Marine Corps and Army have more than 300,000 Trijicon sights.
The references to Bible passages raised concerns that the citations break a government rule that bars proselytizing by American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, which are predominantly Muslim countries.
A spokesman for US Central Command initially said the Trijicon sights did not violate the ban and compared the citations on the sights to the “In God We Trust’’ inscription printed on US currency.
Yesterday, however, Army General David Petraeus, Central Command’s top officer, called the practice “disturbing.’’
“This is a serious concern to me and the other commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan,’’ Petraeus told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
New Zealand announced yesterday that it would remove the citations from the sights they have, and Australia, which also uses the sights, is assessing what to do.