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UPDATE: According to various news reports yesterday, January 21, 2010, Trijicon will stop imprinting Bible references onto their scopes, and will offer the US govt and other govts kits to remove the existing Bible references on scopes already purchased.

ABC News broke an unusual story using unusual language today.  A military rifle scope supplier, Trijicon, embeds Bible references as part of the serial numbers molded into its scopes.  ABC News labeled these Bible references as “secret Jesus Bible codes,”  which I suppose sounds a lot more  mysterious and “DaVinci Code-like” than just calling them scripture references.

ABC provided several photos where scripture references like JN8:12 are clearly visible on the product supplied to the US Department of Defense by Trijicon.  The company was recently awarded a $600-million contract to provide 800,000 scopes to US troops.

Trijicon issued a statement saying the Bible verse references have always been there and were not illegal, according to the ABC story.  They also said the issue had been raised by a group that was “not Christian.”  The company website states “We believe that America is great when its people are good. This goodness has been based on biblical standards throughout our history and we will strive to follow those morals.”

Concerns that the use of scopes bearing the imprint of Christian scripture references will further the idea that America is on a Christian crusade against Muslims prompted the action of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation exposing the cryptic references.  Some believe that Al Qaeda and other radical Islamic groups will use seized rifles and scopes as recruiting propaganda.

Is this an ethical issue?  Should the US military, which denied that it knew of the scripture references, purchase weaponry encoded with Bible references?  Is this a violation of church-and-state separation?

Does this use of the Bible by Trijicon amount to Bible abuse?  Should Scripture references be used on weapons of any type, including hunting, law enforcement and military weaponry?  How do we reconcile the Christian message of peace with a delivery system designed for war?

Or, is the company right?  Are these references their own legal witness to their faith and biblical principles?  I’d be interested to hear what you think.