Shor: For country, not God

God is everywhere. This is true in the omnipotent sense, but also in a less theologically important, more everyday way. He’s part of the development of the modern conservative movement in “God and Man at Yale.” He presides over our study breaks when we choose to hang “For God, For Country, and For Yale” banners in our common rooms. He’s at Branford’s God Quad. But Trijicon, a Michigan-based weapons maker, has found a new way to include God in the lives of a number of Americans. Thanks to Trijicon, if Islam is considered to be the religion of the sword, then Christianity is now the religion of the gun.

Early last week, ABC News revealed that the Trijicon weapons used by the U.S. military are inscribed with hidden biblical references, unknown to U.S commanders. General David Petraeus and U.S. Marine Colonel Gregory Breazile admirably apologized and pledged to halt future purchases of the inscribed guns. Air Force Major John Redfield, however, had a more disturbing response: According to him, fighting with these godly guns poses no problem and is no more inappropriate than using U.S. currency with “In God We Trust” printed on it.

Having “In God We Trust” on our money is offensive to those who believe that God should not have a place in government. But attitudes like Major Redfield’s are far more worrisome because they have the potential to shape the U.S military as an institution that does not just accept God’s influence in government, but is also indifferent to its soldiers’ right to freedom of religion. The military is often slow to embrace those who deviate from their norm — just look at policies like “don’t ask, don’t tell” or the government’s 2007 attempt to block the Wiccan symbol from appearing on gravestones in Arlington National Cemetery. Putting biblical references on guns is even worse. Rather than simply failing to sanction diverse lifestyles and beliefs, allowing these references to remain on weapons directly imposes Christianity on all soldiers. This unfairly forces non-Christians to feel as though they are fighting for God, a motive that should play no part in American wars.

On Trijicon’s reflex sights, for example, which are advertised as providing a “bright aiming point in low light, no light or bright light,” “2COR4:6” appears in reference to the Corinthians 4:6: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” But many soldiers choose to join the military to serve their country, not God. For these soldiers, the suggestion that the light provided by their equipment is the light of God Himself gives the unsettling impression that by using Trijicon’s equipment in combat, soldiers are being guided by God to further a Christian mission.

To consider this from another angle, imagine the outrage that would erupt if Trijicon printed Quranic, not biblical, references on their guns. If the verses were from a religion other than Christianity — especially a religion that many associate with our enemies — I doubt Major Redfield would so readily brush off faith’s presence in the military. Apparently, not all religions are created equal.

As a diverse student body, how would we feel if the administration placed signs praising God in all of our classrooms and suites, implicitly telling us to work in the name of Christianity? As members of a secular institution, many Yalies would be rightly outraged. Members of the military should be similarly angry at Major Redfield’s remarks, which reveal a disconcerting view that asking all soldiers to work and fight in God’s name is acceptable in war. On the contrary, soldiers, students and all Americans deserve the right to individually seek inspiration and solace in whichever god they choose, or in no god at all. Given that we are supposedly fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to protect our freedom and “American values,” the military should be the institution most dedicated to preserving such ideals for all, starting with its own soldiers.

Jessica Shor is a freshman in Ezra Stiles College.

Correction: Feb. 9, 2010

An earlier version of this opinion misidentified the title of U.S. Marine Colonel Gregory Breazile.

Comments

  • yalie

    Definitely wrong. And it’s a shame such a decidedly un-christian act/belief system wasn’t caught earlier.

    But it is also so self-evidently wrong that this was put an end to several days ago. The end.

  • Holy Wars

    Trijicon or Trijihad?

    PK
    MDiv.’80

  • JSM

    They sure make great scopes!

    The scriptures never interfered with my shots.

  • FailBoat

    Why are religious references, encoded or otherwise, offensive to people who DON’T BELIEVE IN THEM?

    I don’t believe the encoded bible verses have any affect whatsoever on our troops. I don’t believe God magically will smile down on our troops for the bible verses being there.

    Consequently, I don’t give a flying frick about it. Same with the “In God We Trust” slogan on our money.

    Stop being so easily offended.

  • y11

    I think #1 wrapped that up nicely. Moving on.

  • stop posting paul keane

    please.

  • totallyok

    Do Christians blow up planes? Do Christians were bombs and walk into crowds? No, and No. I think we’re safe with Christians!

    If Yalies feel so stongly about removing God from every place….then why not remove God from for… God, for Country and for Yale?

    And take it a step further…lobby against “In God we Trust” from our money!

    Once we have successfully removed God from every aspect of our lives…who do we turn to?

  • @#7

    Really?! Ever hear of The Troubles? Are you really that ignorant?

    The predominantly Christian, American military kills innocent people every day. Innocent people. Every day. If that isn’t terrorism, I don’t know what is. (Shock & Awe was the world’s most thinly veiled synonym for terrorism.)

  • YouSillyFreshman

    “If the verses were from a religion other than Christianity — especially a religion that many associate with our enemies — I doubt Major Redfield would so readily brush off faith’s presence in the military. Apparently, not all religions are created equal.”

    Islam is not merely a religion that “many associate” with our enemies. Islam is the sole religion of our current enemy, al-Qaeda.
    No, not all religions are created equal. The prophet of Christianity was a carpenter and a rabbi; the prophet of Islam was a murderous warlord who raped nine year old girls.
    Freedom of religion is not freedom from religion, and there aren’t many atheists in the foxholes. Try reading a little less philosophy and a little more history.

  • Yale God Fearing Gun Toting Christian

    Just ask any veteran of Our Country’s wars (The United States). You always find religion in a foxhole. I have no problem with the verses. God Bless America. For God, For Country, and For Yale. Which one comes first.

  • @8

    There was an appropriate response to #7′s rather misguided comment, but you totally missed it and revealed yourself to be just as ignorant.

    Christians kill people, yes. That is a valid point. Most of them (of course there are exceptions), however, don’t do it because they believe non-Christians are infidels (we’re talking present day, Crusade-mongers). They do it because, in this case, they’re in a state military, which when at war kills people.

    You can hate it, but it’s not radical Islamic terrorism, or any kind of terrorism. Oklahoma City–yeah, that totally counts, but judging from your comment I don’t think you even know how that applies.

    Anyways, there’s a big difference between what the guys using these guns are doing and what you presume to be “American terrorism.” I suggest you learn it.

  • ahh number 8

    Shock and Awe is perhaps the worst example you could have chosen when you had at your disposal such lovely items in history as the inquistion and the crusades. However, while those references would have improved your point, they would not have made it correct. I find it most interesting that our faith in Evolution and even in Capitalism are so unshakeable in nearly every educated americans eyes. Bankers steal bonuses, make risky bets just like before, yata yata yata= Its not the system that is wrong, its the people. Or how the heck did natural selection create structures like flagella or cell membrane proteins that involve many steps before they are in any way functional = dont worry! evolutionairy biology will catch up and figure that one out!. And yet, many would have banished religion completely without even momentarily considering its great merits. We are all people of faith, in global warming, free markets, evolution, the big bang. I of course believe in all of them, but stop to consider a little nugget from Edmund Burke. LIke it or not, our country was founded on religious foundations and it may not be such a good idea to tear down what time and history have tempered and built over 100′s of years. After all, The guillotine is so out of style.

  • 1980

    The problem I see with having Christian scriptures inscribed on guns is that it plays into the hands of the extreme Islamists, who insist we are in a Holy War like the Crusades (they call Christians Crusaders). In fact, we are fighting terrorism and oppression and defending ourselves from people who want to kill us, Israel, and ultimately convert the entire world to Islam. That battle is not a Christian battle, and making it so provides grist for the jihdist propaganda mill. It is a battle between freedom and darkness.

  • #8

    Whether the homicide, the killing of a person, is judged to be a murder (by an individual one would call a terrorist) or as collateral damage, which is the negligent homicide committed unlawfully by one’s armed representatives abroad, I suppose depends on one’s point of view, no?

  • Yale 08

    @1980,

    If the war is not Christendom vs. Islam, what is it?

    Surely it’s not secularism vs. Islam. That feeble ideology doesn’t fight. It just gets into the fetal position.

  • 1980

    @Yale 08,

    I disagree – it’s tolerance and diversity (if you want to call that secularism, fine, but it’s not the same) vs. “my religion or death”.