In a letter to President Obama, Rev. Gaddy requested that he institute policies that ensure national security while also protecting religious freedom, revise the military’s procurement process so that contractors do not imbed these messages in military equipment, halt purchases from Trijicon until these coded references are removed and phase the encoded sights out of use. Rev. Gaddy’s letter explained to President Obama the violations of these sights and the greater problems they create for the U.S. military and the national security of our country:
The Bible verse-inscribed telescopic gun sights clearly violate a government rule prohibiting proselytizing. These weapons are being used by American soldiers not only to root out terrorists but also to train Afghan and Iraqi soldiers; images of American soldiers as Christian crusaders come to mind when they are carrying weaponry bearing such verses. This incident simply adds to the perception that religion rather than national security is at the heart of our military’s presence abroad. In recent years, we also have seen Department of Defense reports using biblical verses as cover pages and soldiers stationed in Afghanistan distributing Bibles.
The boundary between religion and government is a founding principle of our nation and Interfaith Alliance views with great concern any violation of this boundary. When it occurs within the military, thus affecting our soldiers at home and abroad, citizens of other countries and our own national security, it takes on even greater meaning.
We shared our letter and initial statement on this issue with members of the media and received an overwhelming response. Stories in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Associated Press, along with numerous other outlets, reported in detail on the gun sights, and quoted directly from Interfaith Alliance’s statement and letter to the president. Many in the blogosphere called on President Obama to begin implementing the recommendations in our letter.
Trijicon felt the heat. The company announced that it would stop inscribing the Bible codes on rifle sights made for the U.S. military, and would also provide the military with kits to remove the bible codes at no cost.
Ensuring religious freedom in the U.S. military is one of our top priorities this year. This incident merely brought to the forefront an issue that for years has been problematic and can have negative ramifications for the men and women who protect us and our freedoms, as well as the security interests of our country. This is merely the beginning of a significant role Interfaith Alliance plans to take to protect religious freedom within our military.