Canada's military says it plans as soon as possible to remove references [to] phrases from the Bible citations inscribed on some of its firearm sights that have whipped up a storm of controversy - writes Leanne Larmondin.
Before a US television network broke the news story on 18 January 2010, armed forces around the world - including the United States, Britain, New Zealand and Australia - did not realise that U.S. manufacturer Trijicon had put biblical citations on firearm sights in use by forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Alongside the serial number on one type of Trijicon gun sight, an inscription reads JN8:12. In the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, John 8:12 reads: "Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life'.".
A Canadian Special Operations Forces Command spokesperson said the military has a limited number of the affected sights but he said the inscriptions are inappropriate and the armed forces will move as quickly as possible to rectify the situation.
Canadian military technicians are examining how to remove the inscriptions without damaging the sights. Trijicon, a Michigan-based company has a US$660 million contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the US Marine Corps, and additional contracts to provide sights to the U.S. Army.
Trijicon announced it would provide free modification kits to remove the Scripture citations but it is uncertain when the kits will be available to Canadian forces.
In a 20 January statement on its website, Trijicon said future orders for the US military would not include the inscription. The company noted, "As part of our faith and our belief in service to our country, Trijicon has put Scripture references on our products for more than two decades."
General David Petraeus, head of the US Central Command, said he found it "disturbing" that the references were put on the gun scopes because of the perception they might convey that the US was on a Christian crusade in its war against Islam, an accusation that it indeed faces from some Muslims.
Australia and New Zealand also expressed concerned about the biblical references inscribed on the firearm sights.
[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]