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Gunsights' biblical references concern US and UK forces
January 20, 2010 12:44 PM   Subscribe

Coded references to biblical passages are inscribed on gunsights widely used by the US and British military in Iraq and Afghanistan, it has emerged. The markings include "2COR4:6" and "JN8:12", relating to verses in the books of II Corinthians and John. Trijicon, the US-based manufacturer, was founded by a devout Christian, and says it runs to "Biblical standards". But military officials in the US and UK have expressed concern over the way the markings will be perceived. The company had been adding the references to its sights for many years, but the issue surfaced only recently when soldiers complained to an advocacy group, an ABC News investigation found.

The issue has been thrust into the spotlight by the US Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) - an advocacy group that seeks to preserve the separation of church and state in the military.
On 14 January, the MRFF received an e-mail, purportedly from a Muslim US Army infantryman, complaining about the markings.
"Many soldiers know of them and are very confused as to why they are there and what it is supposed to mean."
The email adds: "Everyone is worried that if they were captured in combat that the enemy would use the Bible quotes against them in captivity or some other form of propaganda."
MRFF president Mikey Weinstein says the inscriptions could give the Taliban and other enemy forces a propaganda tool.
"I don't have to wonder for a nanosecond how the American public would react if citations from the Koran were being inscribed onto these US armed forces gunsights instead of New Testament citations," he said.
posted by VikingSword (234 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
You could not make it up if you wanted to feed conspiracy theories about the US.

Grind them off. Now
posted by A189Nut at 12:45 PM on January 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


it's not propaganda if it's true
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:47 PM on January 20, 2010


Whoops. Sorry for the shipping error! We got the "Vampire Hunting" batch mixed up with the "Overseas" batch. The ones going to Iraq and Afghanistan were supposed to read "Dear John."
posted by griphus at 12:48 PM on January 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 12:48 PM on January 20, 2010 [9 favorites]


What, no Sixth Commandment?
posted by entropicamericana at 12:48 PM on January 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is like ironic ya know?
posted by pianomover at 12:49 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


How many angels can dance on the head of a pin a dial adjustable range calibrated rear sight?
posted by turgid dahlia at 12:50 PM on January 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


it's not propaganda if it's true

I am not sure what your comment means. Are you saying that the bible verses are propaganda? Or that the news article is propaganda? Or what? Neither make any sense.
posted by odinsdream at 12:50 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Crosshairs.
posted by pracowity at 12:52 PM on January 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


For those like me who aren't up on their Bible larnin' I looked up the King James wording for the notations.

Second Corinthians 4:6
King James Bible

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.

John 8:12
King James Bible

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
posted by Babblesort at 12:52 PM on January 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


So who was claiming this isn't a Holy War? Onward, Christian Soldiers.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:54 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm almost amused thinking about the laughable spin the army's going to put on this to avoid ending the contract with this company.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:56 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hope the bullets have little crosses in them so if the go through any atheists and/or Muslims they can rise into heaven and meet Jesus before he casts them into an ever burning lake of fire for eternity, but I'm one of those soft hearted types.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 12:56 PM on January 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I blame Thatcher's bloody Britain.
posted by Mister_A at 12:57 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


2 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.


John 8:12

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Wikipedia

Trijicon... specialize in self-luminous optics and night sights..., light-gathering fiber optics, and batteries.

It's just viral marketing, folks.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:57 PM on January 20, 2010 [9 favorites]


Purge the Xenos! For the Emperor!
posted by Artw at 12:57 PM on January 20, 2010 [12 favorites]


John 8:12
King James Bible
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
And also, he that adjusteth his scope three clicks north northeast and one click up shall compensate for wind and taketh out that infidel you're aiming at, Son.
posted by spicynuts at 12:59 PM on January 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Phil Plait wrote a post about this.
posted by Caduceus at 12:59 PM on January 20, 2010


This is exactly like the little Bible references on the bottoms of the cups at In-N-Out except that it's harder to shoot people with those.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:00 PM on January 20, 2010 [10 favorites]


Onward, Christian soldiers.
posted by billysumday at 1:04 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is exactly like the little Bible references on the bottoms of the cups at In-N-Out except that it's being paid for by my tax dollars.

FTFY
posted by Slothrup at 1:05 PM on January 20, 2010 [22 favorites]


This is exactly like the little Bible references on the bottoms of the cups at In-N-Out except that it's harder to shoot people with those.

On the other hand, deaths attributed to Animal Style 4x4s is roughly equal those attributed to scoped rifles.
posted by griphus at 1:05 PM on January 20, 2010 [14 favorites]


I stared and stared at the engraving pictured when this story came out. I had a really hard time figuring out what the scripture reference was since it was in a string of other numbers. If I, a born-again Christian had a heck of a time making it out (presumably I knew what I was looking for!!!!) what was the real problem?

In the linked article a Wiccan says basically, hey, this is a fantastic gunsight, who the heck cares about the engraving?

I can see where this may be a problem for the government now that they are talking openly about this but again, it is interesting to me that this scribblescrabble was that big a deal to those so concerned about church and state. I mean, when I got a license plate that was WTF-XXX I didn't think the state was dropping the f-bomb on me!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:06 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


My initial reaction:
Oh man, they should totally have gone with 2nd Corinthians 5:7

"We live by faith, not by sight."

Or John 9, where a blind man is given sight.

Those would've been much better.
My reaction after my brain had kicked in:
They did what now?! How the hell did anyone think sending soldiers into Muslim countries with bible references on their weapons was a good idea?
posted by Kattullus at 1:06 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


(I am intentionally ignoring the irony of this being inscribed on a gun part, mind you. )
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:07 PM on January 20, 2010


Just how crazy do you have to be to believe surreptitiously inscribing references to biblical passages will cause your god to seal your victory over the other guy?
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:08 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


B52/ROCK LOBSTER
posted by Artw at 1:09 PM on January 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


In a related note, if you're looking for the bullet with your name on it, here it is.

'Cause, hey, if you owned the bullet with your name on it, you wouldn't be able to get shot by it. Well, unless you wanted to.

(From a vaguely remembered Blackadder quote, but I can't think of the exact wording)
posted by chambers at 1:10 PM on January 20, 2010


The markings include "2COR4:6" and "JN8:12"

Not EZK25:17? Lame.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:11 PM on January 20, 2010 [13 favorites]


It's just viral marketing, folks.

It would be kind of cute if the implications were not so serious.
posted by caddis at 1:12 PM on January 20, 2010


In the linked article a Wiccan says basically, hey, this is a fantastic gunsight, who the heck cares about the engraving?

I think that the concern about being captured and the fact being used as propaganda to stoke the 'religious war' idea is a sound one. It's just not very bright on the part of the Army. Putting aside debate about whether or not it is actually a religious war.
posted by spicynuts at 1:12 PM on January 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you don't do this then this is the sort of thing that can happen.
posted by Artw at 1:13 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


MAT6:5

Jesus was pretty clear that religion is meant to be private, not a thing to be branded all over the place.
posted by explosion at 1:14 PM on January 20, 2010 [10 favorites]


I stared and stared at the engraving pictured when this story came out.

Are there photos of the offending gunsight online? I couldn't spot any.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:15 PM on January 20, 2010


What would Jesus do? Matthew 5:39: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Funny how the Xians forget so much of the Bible.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:16 PM on January 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


Well, yeah. Some of the bosses over there are only vulnerable to magic weapons.

Duh.
posted by MrVisible at 1:16 PM on January 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Not EZK25:17? Lame.

That would be a cold-blooded thing to engrave on a motherfucker's gun.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:17 PM on January 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


I can't believe they overlooked MAT10:34. What kind of crusaders are they?
posted by mullingitover at 1:19 PM on January 20, 2010


It is a downright shame they didn't inscribe 2KNGS2/2324:

23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. "Go on up, you baldhead!" they said. "Go on up, you baldhead!" 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.

That's right, Mooslems. If we don't shoot you with our USA bullets, we'll curse you and our God will slay you with bears. Now check yo'self.
posted by billysumday at 1:20 PM on January 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


Yep, to "the enemy", it's confirmation that this is indeed a holy war.
posted by LordSludge at 1:23 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is this really going to turn into a Bible Verse trading thread? Cuz yeah, that method has always won arguments historically. cheebuggah
posted by spicynuts at 1:23 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Are there photos of the offending gunsight online? I couldn't spot any.

I'm a little confused, too. Did you know about these before, Alia? Would you have a link to a picture? All we have here is a single BBC News link with some of it copypasta'd after the cut. (Honestly, this is kind of a weak post that pushes one of Metafilter spleen venting buttons.)
posted by cimbrog at 1:23 PM on January 20, 2010


Are there photos of the offending gunsight online? I couldn't spot any.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe


Here is a bit of ABC News with a video that shows the sights. Looks like the biblical notation is actually at the end of a long string of characters so it is a kind of an oblique reference.
posted by Babblesort at 1:23 PM on January 20, 2010


If I, a born-again Christian had a heck of a time making it out (presumably I knew what I was looking for!!!!) what was the real problem?

Let's say the situation were reversed, and that you found out that the guns Al Queda were using were inscribed with numbers meant to refer to particular verses in the Qu'ran.

If someone came in here and said "if I, a devout Muslim, had a heck of a time making that out, what's the problem?" would you just shrug and say "well, okay then, I guess it means nothing"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:24 PM on January 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Marine Corps considers ending contract with Trijicon; Top U.S. military official defends vendor

Another one with pictures of the numbers.
posted by Comrade_robot at 1:26 PM on January 20, 2010


What about Ezekiel 23:14 etc... it gets lonely out in the field and this could get any soldier worked up.

14 "But she carried her prostitution still further. She saw men portrayed on a wall, figures of Chaldeans [a] portrayed in red, 15 with belts around their waists and flowing turbans on their heads; all of them looked like Babylonian chariot officers, natives of Chaldea. [b] 16 As soon as she saw them, she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea. 17 Then the Babylonians came to her, to the bed of love, and in their lust they defiled her. After she had been defiled by them, she turned away from them in disgust. 18 When she carried on her prostitution openly and exposed her nakedness, I turned away from her in disgust, just as I had turned away from her sister. 19 Yet she became more and more promiscuous as she recalled the days of her youth, when she was a prostitute in Egypt. 20 There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses. 21 So you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when in Egypt your bosom was caressed and your young breasts fondled. [c]

Bolded for the money quote... I need a cigarette.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 1:26 PM on January 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I would have thought someone with a kid "in the war" would not want their kid's life put at further risk by a supplier doing something so stupid.

Although I guess the real hardcore xtianists think of it as a religious war.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:27 PM on January 20, 2010


it runs to "Biblical standards"

So it's accurate to the cubit?
posted by InfidelZombie at 1:28 PM on January 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


And you remember... MAT21:17!

And he left them and went out of the city into Bethany and he lodged there?

Yeah... think about it!
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:28 PM on January 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


Relevant Colbert bit from last night.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:29 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Babblesort: "For those like me who aren't up on their Bible larnin' I looked up the King James wording for the notations.

Second Corinthians 4:6
King James Bible

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.

John 8:12
King James Bible

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
"

So they weren't supposed to be scopes, but Doom style flashlight attachments?
posted by symbioid at 1:30 PM on January 20, 2010


Jesus said to the crowd: "when a man is shooting an enemy combatant, he does not use an old gunsight or one that is of inferior make. He uses the best that he can find, for his purpose is to put a bullet into a body many cubits away."

After he left the crowd, his confused disciples asked the meaning of the parable.

Jesus said, "The gunsight is represents your faith in me. The bullet represents your path in life. The enemy represents sin. When your faith in me is strong, the bullet of your life shall destroy the sins that keep you from eternal life."

The disciples discussed this amongst themselves. When Jesus asked what was the matter, Simon Peter said "that must mean you are the Messiah!"

Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven."
posted by Mister Cheese at 1:31 PM on January 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


"Jesus wept"
posted by symbioid at 1:31 PM on January 20, 2010


Not EZK25:17? Lame.


EZK23:19 FTW.
posted by mikelieman at 1:32 PM on January 20, 2010


ExitPursuedByBear, didn't see your post. Sorry.
posted by mikelieman at 1:33 PM on January 20, 2010


images here
posted by radiosilents at 1:33 PM on January 20, 2010


Let's say the situation were reversed, and that you found out that the guns Al Queda were using were inscribed with numbers meant to refer to particular verses in the Qu'ran.
posted by EmpressCallipygos


Actually I pretty much presume most Al Quaeda guys do scratch some sort of Qu'ran verse on their guns. Then yell Allahu Akhbar while shooting them. Separation of church and state is not really high on the Al Quaeda agenda.

The issue, for me, is not so much the biblical reference. Trijicon can make all the Jesus themed death tools they like. The problem I have is when our officially, and constitutionally mandated, secular military demonstrates a de facto Christian basis. That separation between church and state is the primary thing that Al Quaeda wants to remove from the world. (Plus the church in question being not so much Christian of course.)
posted by Babblesort at 1:34 PM on January 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


On the other hand, deaths attributed to Animal Style 4x4s is roughly equal those attributed to scoped rifles.

You can have my Animal Style 4x4 when you pry it out of my cold, dead hands.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:36 PM on January 20, 2010


Funny how the Xians forget so much of the Bible.

It's not so much a matter of forgetting as it is reinterpreting.
posted by dibblda at 1:36 PM on January 20, 2010


Accept Jesus into your heart! Also your pulmonary artery, lungs, sternum, and what's left of your ribcage.
posted by applemeat at 1:36 PM on January 20, 2010 [11 favorites]


Thank God I don't buy weapons. See what I did there? I do buy food, that sucks enough. This is bad on so many levels.

"The perfect parallel that I see is between the statement that's on the back of our dollar bills, which is 'In God We Trust,' and we haven't moved away from that," said Maj. John Redfield, spokesman for the U.S. Central Command."

Thanks, Major. That statement wasn't always on dollar bills, just like we didn't always inscribe our guns with bible verses.
posted by fixedgear at 1:36 PM on January 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


mikelieman ExitPursuedByBear, didn't see your post. Sorry.

Mike... so like a man, wanting to rush to the horse wang. We must be patient and let the horse wang reveal itself as god intended.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 1:37 PM on January 20, 2010


At any rate, someone in the Pentagon (who isn't completely crazy) needs to organize a PR campaign aimed at Afghanis and Iraqis. Let them know that nutters like Blackwater executives, missionary crusader movements within the Army, and Trijicon are not just quasi-rogue elements within a heterogeneous war effort and the US isn't actually directly aiming to stamp out Islam. At least I hope so.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:37 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually I pretty much presume most Al Quaeda guys do scratch some sort of Qu'ran verse on their guns. Then yell Allahu Akhbar while shooting them. Separation of church and state is not really high on the Al Quaeda agenda.

No, I know -- I was trying to illustrate a point for St. Alia as to why news of this may not be shrugged off as easily by our friends on the other side of the trenches.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:37 PM on January 20, 2010


I think the guns Al Queda uses are inscribed "Screw you, Mikhail Kalashnikov!".
posted by Artw at 1:38 PM on January 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Accept Jesus into your heart! Also your pulmonary artery, lungs, sternum, and what's left of your ribcage.

You cite Colbert when you do that!
posted by Burhanistan at 1:38 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I, a born-again Christian had a heck of a time making it out (presumably I knew what I was looking for!!!!) what was the real problem?

We, for starters, it's like going back in time pissing right on Christ's leg while he's distracted by sticking someone's ear back on or saying that the peacemakers are blessed or something like that.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:40 PM on January 20, 2010


Ezekiel 25:17, holy shit. I woke UP this morning with that scene in my head! Specifically the "Do you speak English motherfucker?" part...
posted by symbioid at 1:41 PM on January 20, 2010


Or, just as easily:

Let's say the situation were reversed, and that you found out that the guns Al Queda were using U.S. Military's guns were inscribed with numbers meant to refer to particular verses in the Qu'ran.

St. Alia, would this still be okay?
posted by applemeat at 1:41 PM on January 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


Sorry EmpressCallipygos. I didn't mean for my pullquote to indicate I was disagreeing with you. Just a branch of thought that sprang up for me when I read your comment.
posted by Babblesort at 1:42 PM on January 20, 2010


The problem is that Trijicon really does make the best product in this case. I'm all for slapping them good and hard, but not if it results in our soldiers having a functionally inferior product. (Or, more likely, a lot of people would just go and buy ACOGs out of pocket, at great expense. Those things are not cheap.)

It was a dumb thing for them to have done while fulfilling a government contract, even if it did boil down to what someone probably thought was a sort of very subtle "Easter Egg". But I'd rather not have soldiers uninvolved in the debacle pay for it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:42 PM on January 20, 2010


I was more pissed off about this until it was explained to me that A. the special thing about these gun sights is they require no external power, battery, etc. to power its optics and B. the Bible verses are all references to light. It's not like they were putting JOHN3:16 on them or something.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:44 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


"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.

...

"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

"So they weren't supposed to be scopes, but Doom style flashlight attachments?"


symbioid, I believe the implication is that the sniper will see the light...right through the bullet hole he just made in the enemy.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:44 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


YOU SEE THERE REALLY ARE CODED MESSAGES IN MY GUNS' SERIAL NUMBERS!
posted by FuManchu at 1:45 PM on January 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


If I were the Contracting Officer in this procurement, I would have instructed my inspector/accepter/tester to refuse delivery. No one told them to put that marking there. It's not in the spec, don't pass go.
posted by fixedgear at 1:45 PM on January 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


From the article: An MoD spokesman told the BBC the ministry appreciated the biblical references could cause offence and was talking to its supplier, but was "not aware at the time of purchase that these markings had any broader significance".

You know, I like living in a country where Christianity is such an irrelevance that no-one would even think that those could possibly be biblical references.
posted by Coobeastie at 1:47 PM on January 20, 2010


Actually, this is quite consistent with the principle that evil people make the best weaponry.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:49 PM on January 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


If I, a born-again Christian had a heck of a time making it out (presumably I knew what I was looking for!!!!) what was the real problem?

Because the Taliban have always claimed that Western forces in Afghanistan are the vanguard of a new Christian crusade against Islam.

Suppose, you are a Taliban agent in the Afghan army. You say, "look, these American marines claim to be trying to help us but on every rifle scope, see look here, they have inscribed a secret code for a new testament verse which they believe says one must be a christian or be cast into darkness."

But then, it's not like there isn't a ton of other evidence that the US military is a hotbed of apocalyptic christianity that sees war in the muslim world as part of god's plan for the resurrection.

file under: we're fucked.
posted by ennui.bz at 1:49 PM on January 20, 2010 [9 favorites]


I don't see how this is a problem from a legal point of view. The Army is buying stuff from someone who puts those references in the serial numbers. As long as they're unique, the manufacturer has all liberty to come up with funky serial numbers, and it sounds like the sights are actually good, so it's really just buying the best sights, that just happen to have quirky serial numbers. For all we know, they could also be buying grenades with Xenu invocations on the serial numbers, or single meal rations where every serial number is a reference to 666 in one way or the other (or for that matter, using a Debian distro where every release's name is a Toy Story character). So, the establishment-clause based lawsuit... meh.

From a PR point of view, though, once it's widely known it really doesn't help with the "Crusade"-type accusations.
posted by qvantamon at 1:51 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, now I've seen the picture. I'm kind of with Alia on this one - you'd really have to know what you're looking for to figure that one out. I'm guessing it was sussed out by someone with an axe to grind, but that doesn't matter any more. Now that its out in the open it would be a good idea to take action (either drop the contract or have them stop the practice) as we don't want to put our soldiers in any additional danger.
posted by cimbrog at 1:51 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


But will these guns work against armor of Ephesians?
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:51 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, the UN's guns all have 666 in their serial numbers.

I'm not saying they're the army of the Antichrist. But it's either them or the ACLU.HAMBURGER
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:53 PM on January 20, 2010


A Catholic priest expressed outrage. For such a ghoulish perversion of what their Christ was supposed to stand for I'm surprised more Christians aren't speaking out.
posted by applemeat at 1:53 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


No Revelation 6:8. Pussies.
posted by ymgve at 1:55 PM on January 20, 2010


Also, you're just looking at the stuff he sells to the army. You should see the ones he sells with Genesis 22 inscribed. The best weapon to shoot your own kids (oops, just kidding, nevermind!).
posted by qvantamon at 1:58 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Burhanistan, He stole it from me and my facebook page proves it!!11
posted by applemeat at 1:58 PM on January 20, 2010


They may be nearly hidden and hard to find but now they have been found and the Taliban read the news too. Ditch 'em.
posted by caddis at 2:01 PM on January 20, 2010


Second Corinthians 4:6
King James Bible
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.


Come on, this is clearly meant as a way of reminding low-light snipers of the best places places to take aim.

Right?

I'm actually a bit disappointment, Trijicon makes a good product. I'd have liked to believe that they were doing so out of a desire to create some of the best optics and not that they are trying to push a crusader agenda. Pity.
posted by quin at 2:01 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


symbioid, I believe the implication is that the sniper will see the light...right through the bullet hole he just made in the enemy.

Erm, or it could just be a reference to the fact that the sight is full of tritium gas and is thus self-illuminating, without batteries. Given that this feature is what makes their product different from many other manufacturers' products, I'm putting my bets there.

Their official tagline is "Brilliant Aiming Solutions."

Also, it's a CQB sight, not really "sniper" equipment. This is what you'd use for that sort of thing. Different product, different users. (Although Trijicon does make more traditional, higher-magnification, long distance riflescopes, that's not the product they're known for.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:01 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


MAT26:52

Oh, and: JHN2:15
posted by Skeptic at 2:01 PM on January 20, 2010


I am not a Christian nor am I a fan of wars.

That said, I'm finding it really difficult to work up outrage over this. It's not as if the government specifically contracted for rifle sights with biblical references on them.

From the articled linked by Comrade_robot: U.S. military rules prohibit any service member from proselytizing while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan

The company chose to do this. If anyone's being inappropriate it's them. They snuck it in there at the end of the serial number. They've been there for years - how long did it take people to notice it? If the contractors were really so adamant about their faith, why not inscribe crosses on the top of the things? It's a chickenshit move.

Does anyone really think that the Taliban or Al Qaeda will hate us more or less based on the presence or absence of a Bible verse on a rifle sight? If this IS a religious crusade we're on, then we might as well put bible verses all over everything. It seems like most people here feel the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are religiously motivated anyway, so what's the difference?

The real outrage is the war itself. This is a silly distraction.
posted by desjardins at 2:02 PM on January 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


From the article: An MoD spokesman told the BBC the ministry appreciated the biblical references could cause offence and was talking to its supplier, but was "not aware at the time of purchase that these markings had any broader significance".

You know, I like living in a country where Christianity is such an irrelevance that no-one would even think that those could possibly be biblical references.


Yet it's likely that the MoD will be the ones to kick up an actual fuss about this and ask for the serial numbers to be changed in the future. I feel kinda happy that there might be special "godless" gunsights just for the British. Hopefully the wrath of some god will make them miss more, but that's boot.
posted by Sova at 2:04 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


MAT26:52

Damn, and I even made this same reference elsewhere. Yeah, though.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:05 PM on January 20, 2010


BTW, that Church and State separation thing? Its point is just as much keeping the State out of your Church as it is keeping your Church out of the State. When you mix religion and politics, the politics always win, in one way or another.
posted by Skeptic at 2:06 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


The company chose to do this. If anyone's being inappropriate it's them.

It's completely inappropriate, and a terminally stupid way to conduct business. The government is undoubtably their most valuable customer and you don't do anything that you can avoid doing to lose such a customer.
posted by applemeat at 2:08 PM on January 20, 2010


applemeat For such a ghoulish perversion of what their Christ was supposed to stand for I'm surprised more Christians aren't speaking out

There has been a culling of Christianity for a long time, the ones remaining are so far from the gospel of grace and love and non-violence, they are much like the left over Eagles Fans, whipping batteries at Santa.

Crosses fingers that the battery whipping Eagles fan analogy holds.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 2:10 PM on January 20, 2010


This is basically the fundamentalist christian equivalent of Hot Coffee.
posted by Artw at 2:13 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Crosses fingers that the battery whipping Eagles fan analogy holds.

*blinking, baffled*

In my case, I'm afraid not....? (Mind you, I'm assuming that you mean the BAND the Eagles, but if you're referring to a sports team I....think it....nah, I still don't get it.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:14 PM on January 20, 2010


Yeah, why would fans of either the band or the football team hate santa, or satan??
posted by Flashman at 2:17 PM on January 20, 2010


You can check out, but you can never leave...
posted by Artw at 2:17 PM on January 20, 2010


They just like tossing batteries.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:19 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


(although they threw snowballs at Santa)
posted by Burhanistan at 2:19 PM on January 20, 2010


Such a lonely place...
posted by Artw at 2:20 PM on January 20, 2010


But the analogy is fail.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:22 PM on January 20, 2010


EmpressCallipygos You see the batteries represent Jesus' healing love and Santa represents the prolerteriat workers...

Seriously, what I mean is that those left who proclaim themselves christian in ways which would include inscribing verses on rifle sites, are really only culturally christian. And I understand there are thoughtful, introspective christians who would be horrified at the idea, but the main voice of American Christianity (and it truly is American) is more American than Christian and is interested in foisting a cultural framework onto the rest of the world, which represent values divorced from the Nicean Creed and married to an American Imperialism, which while certainly politically is to them the hand of God spreading their will throughout the world.

Eagles fans (the sports team) are notoriously rowdy, to the point that yes the booed Santa and whipped batteries onto the field, some even at their own players. This is not people gathered to enjoy sports, at this point their venting some sort of bottled rage onto the field that is far apart from the essence and spirt of the game.

And yes, I intended the analogy to be really silly.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 2:24 PM on January 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm imagining a This Morning With Richard Not Judy "Sunday Heroes" sketch now... "Ahhh!" "No, not 'Ahhh!', how does that analogy work in any way?".
posted by Artw at 2:26 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Consider the Lilies...
posted by Artw at 2:27 PM on January 20, 2010


even if it did boil down to what someone probably thought was a sort of very subtle "Easter Egg"

Ha.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:28 PM on January 20, 2010


desjardins: "[...]I'm finding it really difficult to work up outrage over this. It's not as if the government specifically contracted for rifle sights with biblical references on them."

That is sort of my position on this, too. I would compare it to a situation where a programmer builds a really inappropriate, NSFW easter egg into a business program that has widespread use; but as soon as it becomes known it will taint not only the original programmer but the users as well ("Oh, you're still using WordMaker 4.7? Have you ever held down Shift, Ctrl and hit Enter? ... Yeah, I know, nasty - and you have that installed on all of your machines?").

I would say the best course of action would be to classify equipment bearing those inscritions as "not to spec" and follow the procedures outlined for cases like this. Oh, and add a strongly worded warning to never try shenanigans like that again - I agree with those upthread that this could be seen as a deliberate provocation.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 2:28 PM on January 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


Leave my pagan fertility cult out of it!
posted by Artw at 2:29 PM on January 20, 2010


I think the biggest shame here is that Trijicon doesn't respect freedom of religion, and the diversity of beliefs in the armed forces.

For example, for Hindu soldiers, they could use B.Gita 11:32
"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds"
And for Buddhists, Dhammapada 1:5
"Hatred does not cease by hatred at any time: hatred ceases by love, this is an old rule"
See, much better.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:35 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Related:
New York Times: Questions Raised Anew About Religion in Military.
posted by ericb at 2:38 PM on January 20, 2010


ROU_Xenophobe: “Not EZK25:17? Lame.”

symbioid: “Ezekiel 25:17, holy shit. I woke UP this morning with that scene in my head! Specifically the ‘Do you speak English motherfucker?’ part...”

Yeah, it's fun and all, but the most annoying thing about that movie is that that whole silly verse that he quotes isn't actually in there, or at least most of it isn't. Made-up bullshit, is what it is.
posted by koeselitz at 2:39 PM on January 20, 2010


For example, for Hindu soldiers, they could use B.Gita 11:32

"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds"


This one is reserved for use with atom bombs.
posted by qvantamon at 2:42 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


that whole silly verse that he quotes isn't actually in there, or at least most of it isn't. Made-up bullshit, is what it is.

Part of it is from Psalms, isn't it?
posted by Artw at 2:49 PM on January 20, 2010


This really is in line with WWJD and all that.

what? you didn't know Jesus was a sniper?
posted by notsnot at 3:10 PM on January 20, 2010


the most annoying thing about that movie is that that whole silly verse that he quotes isn't actually in there, or at least most of it isn't.
Made-up bullshit, is what it is.


I HATE made-up stuff in movies!
posted by coolguymichael at 3:10 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Aparrently Jules was quoting Sonny Chiba: Wikipedia beanplating!
posted by Artw at 3:17 PM on January 20, 2010


Ain't nothin' Jesus likes better than for his words to be used on objects what kill people.

For example, the holy hand grenade of Antioch.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:18 PM on January 20, 2010


"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds"

qvantamon : This one is reserved for use with atom bombs.

And it should always be followed with "Now we're all sons of bitches."
posted by quin at 3:18 PM on January 20, 2010


Who Would Jesus Shoot?
posted by 3.2.3 at 3:20 PM on January 20, 2010


And the soldiers likewise demanded of him [John the Baptist] , saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. Luke 3:14

Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Matthew 26:52

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Matthew 5:44

No true Christian can ever commit an act of violence.

posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 3:40 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, I got the Christianity part of things fine, Exit, I was just stuck trying to figure out how that particular point related to electronically-expressed rancor between Santa Claus and Glenn Frey fans. ("....maybe it's some weird thing like Barenaked Ladies fans throwing boxes of macaroni and cheese during concerts? buh?....")

But I gotcha now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:43 PM on January 20, 2010


Well, I think I'm going to shelve my plan for AntiochTM brand hand grenades.
posted by pjern at 3:48 PM on January 20, 2010


I understand fully that now that this is out in public, it's kinda something the Army has to deal with. What I'd like to know is who blew the whistle and what their motive was. Because, again, I can't really see the Taliban scrutinizing serial numbers, or if they did, really understanding just what it was was contained therein.

(In other words squawking about this probably does more harm than good, if you are concerned about Middle Eastern viewpoints....)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:49 PM on January 20, 2010


Hi Osama! You know, you really should stop lurking; we'd be interested to hear what you have to say!
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:52 PM on January 20, 2010


fixedgear, fair enough, but if you're implying the motto on coins is a Cold War or Bush era thing, it goes back a little further.
posted by vsync at 3:52 PM on January 20, 2010


"Now we're all sons of bitches."

I've read in several sources that the first recorded comment after the blast was by George Kistiakowsky: "Oppie, you owe me ten bucks."

Not quite as poetic.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:54 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


(In other words squawking about this probably does more harm than good, if you are concerned about Middle Eastern viewpoints....)

You don't think that them hearing that some of US object to it as well would be a good thing?

Hell, that kind of diplomacy is almost de rigueur for some. During the Cold War, I know a couple of groups who were trying to foster penpal exchanges between people in the US and the USSR to help spread the idea that "Not everyone in the United States hates Soviets!" And there's some evidence it worked.

I should think that spreading the idea that "okay, even some of those Americans think this was a shit thing to do" could cause some people to think "huh, maybe they're not all bad after all." Why would you object to that?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:00 PM on January 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is almost as awesome as my Mao wallet.
posted by b1tr0t at 4:11 PM on January 20, 2010


Well, because I think once the story is out about the gunsite the damage is done. But, just my opinion.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:11 PM on January 20, 2010


I understand fully that now that this is out in public, it's kinda something the Army has to deal with. What I'd like to know is who blew the whistle and what their motive was. Because, again, I can't really see the Taliban scrutinizing serial numbers, or if they did, really understanding just what it was was contained therein.

(In other words squawking about this probably does more harm than good, if you are concerned about Middle Eastern viewpoints....)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:49 PM on January 20 [+] [!]


Question: Do you feel that the military is a Christian organization?
posted by Comrade_robot at 4:13 PM on January 20, 2010


Well, the christian god is an evil genocidal monster so I guess this makes sense.

WWJS?
posted by fuq at 4:29 PM on January 20, 2010


Well, because I think once the story is out about the gunsite the damage is done.

...We wouldn't be talking about it unless the story already WERE out -- if the story weren't out, we wouldn't know about it TO talk about it. So trying to not talk about it is just shutting the barn door after the horse escaped.

But, to continue that analogy, it sounds like the horse has already run down the road into Old Man Whittaker's apple orchard, and you want to shut the barn door because "what if he sees it open, he'll find out our horse escaped" while I'm saying it'd be better to run and stop the horse from eating all of his heirloom Northern Spy crop.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:35 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


It seems like most people here feel the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are religiously motivated anyway, so what's the difference?

It's not a big difference, but why take the chance? Why give the Taliban and Al Qaeda all that much more incentive to believe it's a New Crusade? If it increases the danger even a fraction, then we should stop doing it. Because the only way for there to be peace is for both sides to chill the fuck out. This isn't very important in the scope of both wars, true, but why let it continue?
posted by zardoz at 4:35 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's fun and all, but the most annoying thing about that movie is that that whole silly verse that he quotes isn't actually in there, or at least most of it isn't. Made-up bullshit, is what it is.

I always figured that was a joke about how people use and misuse Bible verses. I mean, it's not like things end up in Tarentino scripts by accident.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:40 PM on January 20, 2010


who blew the whistle and what their motive was

The article says "The issue has been thrust into the spotlight by the US Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) - an advocacy group that seeks to preserve the separation of church and state in the military.
On 14 January, the MRFF received an e-mail, purportedly from a Muslim US Army infantryman, complaining about the markings."

As for why, I think the "seeks to preserve the separation of church and state in the military" part is obvious enough. Not all soldiers are Christian, and those who are not should not have to use equipment that bears Christian slogans. This kind of religious sloganeering causes morale issues which are totally separate from "Middle Eastern viewpoints" -- at best it may make non-Christian soldiers (and even Christian soldiers who support the separation of church and state) uncomfortable... and at worst, it sends an unconstitutional (and, frankly, chickenshit) message about who is and is not welcome in the United States Armed Forces.
posted by vorfeed at 4:43 PM on January 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


This kind of religious sloganeering causes morale issues..

Bingo. And for a military supplier to do something to its equipment that is completely unnecessary and yet could create these and other even worse problems for military personnel fighting amidst Islamic jihadists is outrageous and reckless.
posted by applemeat at 5:03 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


How is it that (seemingly) most companies whose sole energies are devoted to producing products which maim and kill are always run by fanatical religious nuts?
posted by maxwelton at 5:33 PM on January 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Someone should invent a Borderlands-esque sight where if you hit your target numbers representing hit points go flying off them.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:34 PM on January 20, 2010


There is a perfectly innocent explanation. These combatants serve - at a great remove - the heirs of the Ottoman empire. That is, the Turks. Everyone knows that you can only kill Turks by inscribing a cross on the bullet, which will instantly send them to hell. Now, inscribing a cross in this way makes the bullet a dum-dum, which is forbidden by the Geneva accords. Breaching these accords would be against the rules of war, and impious, and it would make this defense ineffective. So another solution was necessary. Trijicon's technology is the symbolic equivalent of a cross but is entirely legal. It will invariably send Turks to hell, when accurately aimed. Not even the company's enemies have denied this. The only alternative would be a repudiation of the Geneva accords, which would be wrong and impious and playing into the hands of the Ottomans.

I hope this is clear.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:43 PM on January 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah, it's fun and all, but the most annoying thing about that movie is that that whole silly verse that he quotes isn't actually in there, or at least most of it isn't. Made-up bullshit, is what it is.

I prefer to think of it as the archangel Samuel telling us what Ezekiel 25:17 says in the true Bible.

You'll be happy to know that the true Bible does not, at least, say "NO BOUNCE NO PLAY" or "I Duddits!" at any point, no matter what the Presbyterians say. Though the "every last motherfucker in the room" bit from Jackie Brown is paraphrased in one of the more turgid psalms.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:57 PM on January 20, 2010


Don't you worry about my palms.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:02 PM on January 20, 2010


There wouldn't be a story out if the manufacturer hadn't been so stupid as to put the references there in the first place. I'm amazed that they could be so dumb. Of course someone would eventually notice and of course the result would be exactly what we're seeing.

OTOH, I suppose if the military does the right thing, it means Trijicon gets to sell a whole bunch of brand-new reference-free scopes, handily doubling their profits overnight.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:16 PM on January 20, 2010


Okay, now even I am stunned. If this is what is going on no wonder why people were so upset (scroll down to the email sent in by a Muslim soldier.)

Nothing in my first 2 deployments prepared me for what happened with the Trijicon ACOG gun sights during my 3rd deployment to Afghanistan. I will never forget the day it occurred. It was morning and there was a mandatory formation of several companies. A very senior NCO was yelling at us which is not that unusual. He asked a private what it was that he (the private) was holding in his hand and the private said it was his “weapon” several times to which the senior NCO replied “and what ELSE is it”? FInally, the senior NCO said that the private’s rifle was also something else; that because of the biblical quote on the ACOG gunsight it had been “spiritually transformed into the Fire Arm of Jesus Christ” and that we would be expected to kill every “haji” we could find with it. He said that if we were to run out of ammo, then the rifle would become the “spiritually transformed club of Jesus Christ” and that we should “bust open the head of every haji we find with it.” He said that Uncle Sam had seen fit not to give us a “pussy ‘Jewzzi’ (combination of the word ‘Jew’ and Israeli made weapon ‘Uzi’) but the “fire arm of Jesus Christ” and made specific mention of the biblical quotes on our gun sights. He said that the enemy no doubt had quotes from the Koran on their guns but that “our Lord is bigger than theirs because theirs is a fraud and an idol”. As a Muslim and an American soldier I was fit to be tied but I kept it in. There were many Afghans, both civilian and military, on base within earshot of what was being yelled at us and I can only wonder in shock what they must have thought. This senior NCO was apparently also the head person of a conservative, crazy Christian group called the “Christian Military Fellowship” and made a big deal about the importance of joining to everyone. He told us all that we MUST read a book called “Under Orders” in order to make it through this combat deployment and said he had many copies for everyone. Some of my friends went and got their copies. I refused. Finally, this senior NCO ended his yelling by warning us that if we did not “get right with Jesus” then our rifles would not provide spiritual strength despite the bible quotes on our ACOG gunsights and that we would be considered “spiritual cripples” to our fellow units and soldiers. He didn’t say it in so many words, but the message was clear; if anything bad happened in a combat situation, it would be the fault of anyone who had not accepted Jesus Chris in the “right way”. I have never felt so ashamed and scared in my life. I have never hated myself so much for not speaking out. So I thought of my wife and children and endured. Every time I looked at my rifle with that Trijicon ACOG gunsight/scope with the biblical quote from the book of John (8:12), it would make me sick. If I had tried to protest, it would have made me dead. And if I’m dead I’m of no use to my wife and children.

This ain't cool. Ain't cool at all. If this is as he describes.....it's just terrible. As a Christian I am deeply, deeply offended.

I didn't really have a problem with a "weird" serial number. But this is way way past that.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:18 PM on January 20, 2010 [11 favorites]


Speaking of war, it occurs to me that the USA faces complete financial failure if it ever stops going to war.

Someone care to look up how much of the economy is based on killing foreigners? I'll bet it's so significant that it can't be stopped.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:20 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


And for my own peace of mind just let me say that as much as I love the Bible, as much as those verses, to me, are cool....I hate and detest the misuse of the Bible, the misuse of the name of Jesus, because it is slandering My Lord.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:20 PM on January 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


“spiritually transformed into the Fire Arm of Jesus Christ”

Yup... I remember when Jesus went into the temple, guns a-blazin', and put a bullet in the heads of the merchants inside... The merchants' Jewzis had no chance against Christ's superior firepower.

Good times... good times...
posted by qvantamon at 6:47 PM on January 20, 2010


On the other hand, this might have been the wrong Christian Bale movie.
posted by qvantamon at 6:53 PM on January 20, 2010


St. Alia:

Others have posted in here about similar instances within the military. I'm a bit surprised this is news to you. But, perhaps now this explains why I was personally so caught up in wanting to decry this kind of thing earlier, because it really isn't just about "some funny serial numbers," and many of us have been trying to state precisely that for quite some time now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:57 PM on January 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


Someone care to look up how much of the economy is based on killing foreigners?

Most of that can be made up by foreigners killing foreigners.
posted by pompomtom at 7:23 PM on January 20, 2010


I used to work for a governmental defense contractor, supplying ordnance that was frequently serial numbered.

This takes a shit ton of people involved to have happened. This doesn't occur because some lone wolf on the production line has a personal anti-muslim masturbatory bullshit agenda. It has to permeate the whole culture of the organization that provides the munitions/arms.

The guy on the line stamping the numbers, his supervisor, the engineer responsible for the production process, the engineer responsible for the product design, the quality management responsible for inspection, shit the whole fucking company when it comes down to it, plus the independent government inspector who is on site.

This shit stinks on many levels.
posted by yesster at 7:26 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Does anyone really think that the Taliban or Al Qaeda will hate us more or less based on the presence or absence of a Bible verse on a rifle sight?

I suspect there are any number of people who are not presently Taliban or AQ, who would find this among the many reasons to join. Presuming one subscribes to the belief that once all the baddies are killed there will be no more baddies, then this suspicion of mine is entirely beside the point.
posted by pompomtom at 7:27 PM on January 20, 2010


I probably agree on little with St. Alia of the Bunnies, but I take my hat off to her for having the intellectual honesty to look squarely at some pretty uncomfortable things. I respect that. If more Republicans/Evangelicals were in her mold, then despite our vast differences in outlook, I feel we could come to some kind of understanding. Live and let live.
posted by VikingSword at 7:29 PM on January 20, 2010


Empress Callipygos, St. Alia's comment was the first one where I saw reference to anything other than "funny serial numbers" (which really is more like the private company's business than the army's, since the contract decision doesn't seem to have been driven by that at all), or the possible repercussion of those funny serial numbers. I had seen some news about this, and the most I had seen was that soldiers referred to the rifles as "Jesus Rifles" (which sounds more like a joke than anything else, akin to calling an AK a "commie rifle" or something). That quote is the first instance I have seen that puts this particular news in a context of actual institutional "Christian" proselytizing/segregation from inside the army.

The way this is being reported in most media vehicles, "Private company puts funny serial numbers in rifles, MRFF sues" doesn't really help, it just paints the MRFF in a frivolous light, and just reduces the credibility of legitimate religious discrimination claims ("oh, it's the guys that made all the noise about the Jesus rifles again!"), and that is why my initial comment was that the lawsuit was ridiculous. It is not, but the MRFF and the media are doing a terrible job of painting it that way.
posted by qvantamon at 7:29 PM on January 20, 2010


I remember being disgusted by U.S. troops scrawling their little slogans on bombshells back around March of 2003 or thereabouts, and hearing about this just seemed like a continuation of that nonsense, at first.

Say what you want about religion in general and christianity in particular, I wouldn't touch any of it even if I did consider myself a christian now. I don't think that the better teachings of Jesus have any place in this forking country to be honest. I'd go so far as to suggest that such teachings are in direct opposition to what the United States is really all about, at least as I was brought up to understand those lessons.

The curse of being an attentive and thoughtful little rugrat, I suppose. But whatever, I'll continue to try and wean myself from the everpresent urge to think of all christians as benighted fools, and go read some Slacktivist or something if just for the comforting idea that not all of our religious brethren (and cistern) are inextricably cranially/anally engaged with themselves.

There but for the grace, Pat Roberston and the like notwithstanding.
posted by metagnathous at 7:29 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not all soldiers are Christian, and those who are not should not have to use equipment that bears Christian slogans.

In fact, even the ones who are Christian should not have to use such equipment. I'm sure there are plenty of Christian soldiers in the U.S. armed forces who are not bloodthirsty religious zeolots and neo-Crusaders killing in the name of Jesus.

But for those who are, the proper Bible passage is clearly Psalms 144:1-2.
posted by stargell at 7:31 PM on January 20, 2010


St. Alia's comment was the first one where I saw reference to anything other than "funny serial numbers" (which really is more like the private company's business than the army's, since the contract decision doesn't seem to have been driven by that at all), or the possible repercussion of those funny serial numbers.

I was referring more to the story she posted about the commanding officer giving a come-to-Jesus (if you'll pardon the expression) speech prior to sending troops into combat. I am fairly sure I've seen people mentioning those kinds of incidents here before this, ones which may not have involved serial numbers on rifles but which indicated other similar instances of military officers trying to turn their combat into a holy crusade.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:39 PM on January 20, 2010


Granted, the place I found that was wondering if in two weeks that letter would be found to be fabricated by someone with an axe to grind (it's NOT a Christian website, just so you know) -and I would hope and pray that would be the case but if it isn't it is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE. And this really really is the first time I have ever heard tell of such a thing (now, crazy NCOs and other Army types, sure. I mean, people supposedly stared at goats around here. But this isn't the same thing.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:48 PM on January 20, 2010


I think this is beautiful. Engraving weapons with symbols of belief is noble and warrior-like.
posted by eeeeeez at 7:50 PM on January 20, 2010


While it may be true on a pedantic level, these "codes" are pretty standard for bible cites. It's like if you put a URL on something and someone called it a "code." True if you're not familiar with the notation, but it's not exactly ROT13.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:58 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Almost forgot... since no one mentioned it yet...

THAT WOULD NOT KILL DRACULA!
posted by qvantamon at 8:14 PM on January 20, 2010


It's been well documented that Jesus is packing.
posted by speedo at 8:59 PM on January 20, 2010


This takes a shit ton of people involved to have happened. This doesn't occur because some lone wolf on the production line has a personal anti-muslim masturbatory bullshit agenda. It has to permeate the whole culture of the organization that provides the munitions/arms.

It's not just the organization that provides the munitions/arms, it's also the Armed Forces themselves. At this point, there's no question that some groups have an open agenda of Christianizing the American military, and the higher-ups are clearly looking the other way.

There is no way that an NCO could give a speech like the one St. Alia quoted above (and the ones many other soldiers, Marines, and airmen have described) without the approval, tacit or otherwise, of officers who have ostensibly taken an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. And that approval goes all the way up the chain of command, because otherwise somebody along the line would be bringing the hammer down. And guess what? Obama retained the guy who let this happen on his watch, and the Department of Justice is equally unwilling to do anything about it.

The sad part is that the military is and always has been significantly less religious than the general American population, and has a long and rich tradition of non-denominational chaplains, all of which is being deliberately undermined by fundamentalist groups. It's also worth noting that many (if not most) of the complaints in recent years are coming from mainstream Protestants and Catholics, who face abuse because they're not "real" Christians -- this is not just a non-Christian issue.

In short: this is about more than a couple of harmless slogans on guns. At this point, it's gone way beyond harming the mission; this atmosphere of proselytizing is starting to hurt the Armed Forces themselves.
posted by vorfeed at 9:03 PM on January 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


You just have to look at the Dems vs Repubs to see that the Dominionist-style religionuts are going to succeed at subverting both the government and the military.

Unless rational people get their shit together *way* better than they have in the past. That doesn't seem likely.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:56 PM on January 20, 2010


My country's army has bought these sites, and we're grinding the inscription off.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:16 PM on January 20, 2010


SIGHTS

o the shame
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:16 PM on January 20, 2010


UbuRoivas:For example, for Hindu soldiers, they could use B.Gita 11:32
"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds"


Jai Mata Di, since Kargil at least.

Also, I've always maintained that the Indian national character would be more correctly captured if that expression were rendered thus:
... And now I am becoming gerund, for the destroying of all verbs.

Just me, I'm sure.

posted by the cydonian at 10:24 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is really a goddamn shame. I've been coveting an ACOG for a long time. But they just lost my sale. I guess I'll be looking into an EOTech instead.

You just have to look at the Dems vs Repubs to see that the Dominionist-style religionuts are going to succeed at subverting both the government and the military.

Yep. Between the fundamentalist fuckheads in the Army and The Family in DC, I'm not especially optimistic about the future of this country.

On the other hand, I'm perversely looking forward to the possibility of a nice religious war inside the United States. I'm not sure who would win (would people like St. Alia of the Bunnies fall in with the Dominionists, or would they fight for religious and social freedom alongside their atheistic comrades?), but it'd give me a chance to use the aforementioned EOTech sight on something I respect less than the prairiedogs.
posted by Netzapper at 10:58 PM on January 20, 2010


In a related note, if you're looking for the bullet with your name on it, here it is.

'Cause, hey, if you owned the bullet with your name on it, you wouldn't be able to get shot by it. Well, unless you wanted to.


It's not the bullet with your name on it you need to worry about. It's the one addressed "To whom it may concern".
(Murphy's rules of combat)
posted by Francis at 4:06 AM on January 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


No EX20:13 or MAT5:anything, I'm guessing.

Also, Pope Guilty just made me wish I could favorite via mobile phone.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:09 AM on January 21, 2010


And you remember... MAT21:17!

And he left them and went out of the city into Bethany and he lodged there?

Yeah... think about it!


I never read that verse that way, even though my real name is... guess what.
posted by orange swan at 6:13 AM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would have thought someone with a kid "in the war" would not want their kid's life put at further risk by a supplier doing something so stupid.

I do vehemently agree that marking weapons with Biblical references is offensive and wrong on several levels, but it hardly elevates the level of risk for the soldiers who use them.
posted by orange swan at 6:18 AM on January 21, 2010


Granted, the place I found that was wondering if in two weeks that letter would be found to be fabricated by someone with an axe to grind (it's NOT a Christian website, just so you know) -and I would hope and pray that would be the case but if it isn't it is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE.

Whether or not you found that on a Christian website doesn't make a difference to me, personally, so I'm not sure why you brought that up.

I am almost positive I have read either a post or comments on this very site that spoke of this kind of activity in the ranks of the military before. There's no "if" about it -- this is definitely happening.

And this is why so many people on the site seem to be frothing at the mouth when it comes to Christianity, by the way -- because this is far from the only such account of people giving "Christians" a bad name. This is why you, personally, have been coming into such flak -- because these kinds of stories are out there, and there are MANY of them, and they are NOT just "fabricated by people with an axe to grind," so your allowing that benefit-of-the-doubt sometimes looks like willful disregard. I have a feeling what you're really trying to do, and it's noble, but...people on this site have been terribly, terribly hurt by other people who used Christianity to justify the reason for perpetuating that hurt, and there's a point at which you have to say "enough benefit."

I'm trying desperately not to sound like this is an attack, because it isn't -- I'm trying to get you to see that "look, there's a REASON that people are up in arms about Christianity, and that reason is not 'because they've got an axe to grind.'" They're giving your religion -- which is a good one, to my mind -- a really, really shitty reputation, and the way you're trying to defend it simply isn't working. I'm trying to defend it myself -- and I'm not even Christian! -- because I know that there's a difference between the power of the faith itself and the people who abuse it; but my words don't carry anywhere near as much weight, because I'm not Christian.

The people who are abusing Christianity don't need your giving them the benefit of the doubt by saying "maybe this is someone with an axe to grind" -- the rest of us need you to speak up the way you did in here and say "this is not what Christianity is about and I, as a Christian, am horrified by this."

And this really really is the first time I have ever heard tell of such a thing (now, crazy NCOs and other Army types, sure. I mean, people supposedly stared at goats around here. But this isn't the same thing.)

I am positive that I saw either at least one post or several comments which mentioned a Dominionist streak in the military before this. But If you'd missed it, fair enough.

(Again, my apologies if my tone is stern; it's just that this kind of crap horrifies me and I'm NOT a Christian -- but me speaking truth to power doesn't have as much weight as a Christian doing so, so what you're seeing in my tone is more like "come on and give me a hand, here!" :-> )
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:34 AM on January 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am positive that I saw either at least one post or several comments which mentioned a Dominionist streak in the military before this.

There's a Livejournal community called "dark_christian" which tracks Dominionist, Christian Identity, and (to a somewhat lesser extent) Conservative Christian activity. It's been a bit, but I seem to remember that especially around 2005-2007 or so there were a bunch of stories that I saw come through there about exactly this- rampant right-wing Christian prosetlyzation within the ranks and the like.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:51 AM on January 21, 2010


Good. Shine a big, bright, steady light on those bastards. I can appreciate the concern with disproportionate representation and all, but I've recently come around to thinking that the more attention crap like this gets, the better. "We're not all like that" is a given, or should be to any rational person, but is best underlined by speaking and acting against this behavior.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:15 AM on January 21, 2010


First off, I'm strongly displeased by this. That said, it's funny how much anger a word, a number, a colon, and a number can cause. It has no meaning in itself until you bust out the Bible to look it up. And if you're in a killzone, that probably won't be happening. The very pattern of characters carries more weight than any specific characters therein. It is, in a sense, a Christian regular expression.

[a-z]*\w?\d*:\d*
posted by spamguy at 7:20 AM on January 21, 2010


Well, "Christianity" is a big umbrella, and even amongst people that most of you would simply classify as "fundamentalists" or "evangelical" there are a wide range of beliefs and what each would consider acceptable actions. Yes, I am horrified by a lot that is done in "the name of Jesus."

I have to be careful here-if on one hand a "dominionist" is one who is not hanging out looking for the Rapture to yank them out of here avoiding a crappy world going thru the crapper rapidly, but instead wanting to work to make things better, then I could be classified as one. However, on my treks round the World Wide Web, there is a subculture of folks (of which my church family and myself are definitely NOT a part of) which is considered Dominionist-they scare the everliving crap out of me. These are people who forget that Jesus clearly said His kingdom was not of this world and who see getting into politics etc. as the way to bring Jesus' kingdom to this earth. Guess what, it ain't.

A person becomes a Christian from the inside out, not the outside in-we will never a Christian theocracy by imposing it from the outside in. You will never ever legislate Christianity, you will never ever "christianize" the military, or the government, etc. by such secular means. Christianity is supernatural, and thinking you can do the job only the Holy Spirit can do is the height of arrogance.

So, when I read nonsense like what that NCO is reporting to have done-excuse me, that is not Christian, that is not godly, that is crap from the pit of Hell. Period.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:42 AM on January 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


As mentioned up thread this is similar to an "easter egg" that programmers sometimes put into their software.

Easter eggs are normally fun and harmless but really they have no place in "important" (say, banking, medical, etc, etc) software. At the best they can cause embarrassment and at worse can introduce bugs into the software that (because the easter eggs are, by nature, hidden) are tough to track down

Generally you trust other professionals you're working with not to add in easter eggs to software where they would be inappropriate. But occasionally someone thinks it'll be a good idea on a project and if you're lucky you'll find them before the software ships.
posted by schwa at 7:54 AM on January 21, 2010


we will never [sic] a Christian theocracy by imposing it from the outside in. You will never ever legislate Christianity, you will never ever "christianize" the military

Amen.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:01 AM on January 21, 2010


You will never ever legislate Christianity, you will never ever "christianize" the military, or the government, etc. by such secular means. Christianity is supernatural, and thinking you can do the job only the Holy Spirit can do is the height of arrogance.

I completely agree with you, and I completely know all of that.

But there are people who don't KNOW that "Christianity is a big tent," because the only kinds of Christians they've seen ARE this kind of wack-nut -- because the wack=nuts speak loudest and attract the most attention, and they don't hear any other Christians saying "this is crap from the pit of hell." That's all I mean -- call the crap from the pit of hell for what it is, and it'll get other people thinking that "Huh, maybe all Christians aren't like that jackass who hangs out in front of the coffee shop."

And (she said, bringing the conversation screeching back to the original point) that ties into my wanting to talk this up, because unless people IN the Middle East hear that there are other Americans -- and other Christians -- who hear about this kind of thing and think "oh, HELL no", they're going to think that we're all totally fine with it, and they're going to stay madder at us longer. And then the wars we get into last longer, no matter what is carved on our gunsights...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:09 AM on January 21, 2010


The referenced the Onion article upthread got me thinking that there is a biblical quote that they could stick on the side of the weapon scope which I would be totally ok with.

"Thou shalt not kill"

It provides a nice sort of mixed-message frisson that I appreciate.
posted by quin at 9:24 AM on January 21, 2010


It provides a nice sort of mixed-message frisson that I appreciate.

Whose side are you on, son? Don't you love your country?
posted by FuManchu at 10:09 AM on January 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's not the bullet with your name on it you need to worry about. It's the one addressed "To whom it may concern".
(Murphy's rules of combat)


A friend of mine, an infantry captain, has related it to me as "It's not the bullet with your name on it you worry about, it is the artillery shell marked 'occupant.'"
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:24 AM on January 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


[comments removed, go to metatalk NOW with that shit or just go for a walk. not okay, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 11:46 AM on January 21, 2010


However, on my treks round the World Wide Web, there is a subculture of folks (of which my church family and myself are definitely NOT a part of) which is considered Dominionist-they scare the everliving crap out of me. These are people who forget that Jesus clearly said His kingdom was not of this world and who see getting into politics etc. as the way to bring Jesus' kingdom to this earth. Guess what, it ain't.

alia- dominionism and dominion theology are political and have the aim of christianizing secular institutions, among other aims. "dominion over this earth"...

and while from a theological perspective it is incorrect for christians to seek worldly power, the church has historically been incredibly powerful and completely willing to putz about in earthly affairs. i am uncertain how one would combat this.
posted by beefetish at 11:55 AM on January 21, 2010


and while from a theological perspective it is incorrect for christians to seek worldly power, the church has historically been incredibly powerful and completely willing to putz about in earthly affairs.

This is going to sound hair-splittingly semantic, but I would instead say that "persons in the church" have been doing this, instead of "the church." At times, those people have indeed been church leaders; at other times, they haven't.

But remembering that ties in quite neatly with what we've got happening here -- because at times, those people have also been heads of their own companies, and at times they haven't. On the face of it, this isn't a horrible thing -- if all the Dominionist is doing to advance his cause is mass-producing "One Nation Under GOD, Get It?" bumper stickers or whatever, well, that's easy enough to counter with your own bumper stickers saying something else. Yeah, that same guy will go to the polls with his opinions, but he would have done so no matter what he did for a living, and he only gets one vote, just like everyone else.

What cheers me most about this story, actually, is the response of the government itself when they found out what was happening -- if I understand it rightly, the government caught wind of this and said, "Really? Wow," and cancelled the guy's contract. And that, I think, is the best way to combat this kind of attitude -- recognizing it as something inherant to the person, and not the religion they're pushing, which frees up everyone else -- including members of that same religion -- to say, "okay, NO," and let them realize just how few fellows they have.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:21 PM on January 21, 2010


This is going to sound hair-splittingly semantic, but I would instead say that "persons in the church" have been doing this, instead of "the church." At times, those people have indeed been church leaders; at other times, they haven't.

This kind of sets up a dynamic in which "the church" hardly exists at all.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:17 PM on January 21, 2010


This kind of sets up a dynamic in which "the church" hardly exists at all.

Yeah, it somehow puts me in mind of a police apologist I heard recently who dismissed an account of police brutality by saying that, "police officers did not do this; criminals did this. Every occupation has criminals who managed to get hired in that field and police are no different."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:47 PM on January 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


A person becomes a Christian from the inside out, not the outside in-we will never a Christian theocracy by imposing it from the outside in. You will never ever legislate Christianity, you will never ever "christianize" the military, or the government, etc. by such secular means. Christianity is supernatural, and thinking you can do the job only the Holy Spirit can do is the height of arrogance.


No doubt these "dominionists" are arrogant, but as a logistics issue, how in the world is the Holy Spirit going to bring about a Christian theocracy without human agency? It's not like magically everything's Jesusland all of a sudden, that would take definite steps by determined groups of people. So, there's no way around having people do the "lord's" work here to get things going.

Note: I do not at all want the above but the thinking I quoted here kind of is like wanting to have your cake and eat it too.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:55 PM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


how in the world is the Holy Spirit going to bring about a Christian theocracy without human agency?

So much of this nonsense with the bible verses on the gunsights and the proselytization of military members sounds a lot like NIN's Year Zero concept, specifically the Church Of Plano and the 105th Airborne.

It was creepy to be playing that ARG, and it's creepy to see so much of it echoed in real life.
posted by hippybear at 3:13 PM on January 21, 2010


how in the world is the Holy Spirit going to bring about a Christian theocracy without human agency?

I took it to mean that the Holy Spirit enters people's hearts and changes their minds so that the theocracy will be "from the inside out."

I am not a Christian so this could be bullshit.
posted by desjardins at 3:25 PM on January 21, 2010


> No doubt these "dominionists" are arrogant, but as a logistics issue, how in the world is the Holy Spirit going to bring about a Christian theocracy without human agency? It's not like magically everything's Jesusland all of a sudden, that would take definite steps by determined groups of people. So, there's no way around having people do the "lord's" work here to get things going.


As I understand it, the original (and current, for some groups) idea was to lead by example, and eventually everyone will come aboard of their own volition.

The 'dominionists' seem to be in a hurry and willing to take shortcuts.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:48 PM on January 21, 2010


This kind of sets up a dynamic in which "the church" hardly exists at all.

....the same is true of any institution, though.

We are fond of saying -- right here in this site, in fact -- that "you can't say all Americans are the same." Which means, saying that "America hates thus-and-such" isn't accurate -- instead, it's "some Americans hate thus-and-such." And yet, no one takes that to mean that "America hardly exists at all". We may have a staggering scope of opinions, including a staggering scope of opinions about what "being American" actually means," but the variety of those opinions do not cancel out the existance of America as a single entity.

Well, this is the same thing. Not all Christians have the same mindset, nor the same approach to being Christian. Just like not all Americans have the same mindset, nor the same approach to being American.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:13 PM on January 21, 2010


We are fond of saying -- right here in this site, in fact -- that "you can't say all Americans are the same." Which means, saying that "America hates thus-and-such" isn't accurate -- instead, it's "some Americans hate thus-and-such." And yet, no one takes that to mean that "America hardly exists at all". We may have a staggering scope of opinions, including a staggering scope of opinions about what "being American" actually means," but the variety of those opinions do not cancel out the existance of America as a single entity. Well, this is the same thing. Not all Christians have the same mindset, nor the same approach to being Christian. Just like not all Americans have the same mindset, nor the same approach to being American.

Yes, but this is not about subjective claims like "America hates such and such". It's about objective claims like "America does such and such". That sort of claim can be entirely true whether or not all Americans have the same mindset or the same approach, because America is a social entity which is capable of action. If America invades Iraq, it is indeed unfair to say that "all Americans hate Iraq" or even "all Americans want to invade Iraq", but that does not change the fact that "America invaded Iraq". Nor is the variety of Americans' individual mindsets enough to refute factual, action-based claims like "America has historically been incredibly powerful and completely willing to putz about in other nations' affairs".

Likewise, the original claim was that "the church has historically been incredibly powerful and completely willing to putz about in earthly affairs"... and this is entirely true of the church as a social entity, regardless of whether it was or was not true of all of its individual members. There's objecting to being included in an overly-broad statement, and then there's denying historical fact; if the original claim had been that all Christians had been incredibly powerful and completely willing to putz about in earthly affairs, I'd have some sympathy for your argument, but we're talking about the church itself... and let's face it, the church was incredibly powerful and completely willing to putz about in earthly affairs.
posted by vorfeed at 4:55 PM on January 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


> Likewise, the original claim was that "the church has historically been incredibly powerful and completely willing to putz about in earthly affairs"... and this is entirely true of the church as a social entity, regardless of whether it was or was not true of all of its individual members.

The church? Are you talking about some specific church? Or do you mean to lump all of Christianity together as if it were all the same? (c.f., Islam, just for giggles.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:25 PM on January 21, 2010


Theologically, one can look at it this way: The Visible Church (those that attend meetings, claim Christianity as their faith, have membership in a church, etc.) and the Invisible Church (made up of all those who have been regenerated-i.e., "born again" and whose names are written in the Lamb's book of Life.)

Those two groups, are, ahem, not identical.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:11 PM on January 21, 2010


St. Alia, those of us who are not Christians don't care so much about Christian theology as we do about political Christianity. The Invisible Church is irrelevant to anyone who does not belong to it, and I rather suspect that you want it that way. It's the Visible Church that's hurting our country, and we wish the "true Christians" (like the "good cops" who get mentioned in discussions of police brutality) would do something about it.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 6:32 PM on January 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Likewise, the original claim was that "the church has historically been incredibly powerful and completely willing to putz about in earthly affairs"... and this is entirely true of the church as a social entity, regardless of whether it was or was not true of all of its individual members. There's objecting to being included in an overly-broad statement, and then there's denying historical fact; if the original claim had been that all Christians had been incredibly powerful and completely willing to putz about in earthly affairs, I'd have some sympathy for your argument, but we're talking about the church itself... and let's face it, the church was incredibly powerful and completely willing to putz about in earthly affairs.

My concern with that, though, is that it's far, far too easy for someone to say "therefore, that's what everyone in the church wants/that's still what they do/that's always been the whole point." It is too easy for someone to accuse the current church of having exactly and precisely the same agenda now as it had in the year 1300.

And that's simply not the case. To build on an analogy you made:

If America invades Iraq, it is indeed unfair to say that "all Americans hate Iraq" or even "all Americans want to invade Iraq", but that does not change the fact that "America invaded Iraq". Nor is the variety of Americans' individual mindsets enough to refute factual, action-based claims like "America has historically been incredibly powerful and completely willing to putz about in other nations' affairs".

True, but whether or not America did or did not putz about in other nations' affairs at any one given time depended dramatically on the mindset of whoever it was who was at the helm in America AT that time. For every president who wanted to get involved in another nations' affairs, there has been a president who was unwilling to meddle (and sometimes got flack for NOT getting involved, in at least one instance in recent memory -- remember how many people laid blame at Clinton's feet for not doing more in Bosnia?).

American involvement in other nations is an historic fact, yes. It did happen. But it did not UNIVERSALLY happen to the same DEGREE at all times, and whether or not it did at a given specific time depended a lot on how the president and the majority of the populace felt AT that given specific time. Same too with the church itself -- some church leaders have been more willing to mess in politics, some less. My fear is only that in stating that "the church has been willing to putz about in other nation's affairs," you make it too easy for others to think like it's a Cartesian logic problem of "if person = religious, then person = Dominionist." And that REALLY, REALLY is not the case -- it's far more complex than that. Sometimes I even think it's intellectually lazy to not acknowledge that, but I only think that way when I've argued with some people for too long.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:45 PM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do vehemently agree that marking weapons with Biblical references is offensive and wrong on several levels, but it hardly elevates the level of risk for the soldiers who use them.

Really? You don't think this will do anything for recruitment, for the people aiming guns and IEDs at those soldiers?
posted by me & my monkey at 7:36 PM on January 21, 2010


The church? Are you talking about some specific church? Or do you mean to lump all of Christianity together as if it were all the same? (c.f., Islam, just for giggles.)

I am talking about the Roman Catholic Church, which was, for all intents and purposes, "the church" during most of Western Christian history.

That said, this statement also applies to the Orthodox Church. It applies also to the Church of England. And it applies to our modern fundamentalist mega-churches as well. All of these were incredibly powerful within their sphere of influence, and all were involved in politics and other "earthly affairs".

This is my point: you don't need to "lump all of Christianity together as if it were all the same" to be able to make glaringly obvious statements about the actions of Christianity as a social entity. If there's such a thing as "Christianity" to begin with, then we should be able to discuss objective claims about the nature and actions of Christianity... and if not, then we may as well proceed directly to Barnes and Noble and piss all over the history section.

My concern with that, though, is that it's far, far too easy for someone to say "therefore, that's what everyone in the church wants/that's still what they do/that's always been the whole point." It is too easy for someone to accuse the current church of having exactly and precisely the same agenda now as it had in the year 1300.

Frankly, I don't buy the idea that we should shy away from making statements about history, out of a fear that somebody might interpret them in a stupid manner. Yes, history is complex, but we lose the ability to make any sense of it at all if we reduce everything to individual actions.

After all, whether or not Switzerland putzed about in other nations' affairs also depended dramatically on the mindset of whoever it was who was at the helm in Switzerland AT that time... but it would be somewhat odd to claim that Switzerland "has historically been completely willing to putz about in other nations' affairs", whereas this claim fits America very well. The same goes for Poland, Finland, and any number of other nations which were largely putzed-with rather than putzers. In other words: America shows a historical tendency toward putzing about in other nations' affairs, whereas many other nations do not.

All groups are made up of individuals, but not all groups behave the same way. The Pope/President/King/Whoever does not exist in a vacuum, so the idea that group behavior is solely a matter of "whoever it was who was at the helm at that time" is questionable, to say the least. The individual model cannot account for long-term trends in group behavior, whereas a culture-based model can...

Or, as the great historian Angus Young once wrote, "Who made who / Who turned the screw?"
posted by vorfeed at 7:39 PM on January 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's a bit like flicking matches at a housefire, TBH.
posted by Artw at 7:40 PM on January 21, 2010


If there's such a thing as "Christianity" to begin with, then we should be able to discuss objective claims about the nature and actions of Christianity...

No one's saying you can't discuss objective claims about the nature of Christianity. We're just asking you not to mistake "the nature of Christianity" for "the nature of SOME CHRISTIANS."

But you absolutely can make objective claims about "the nature of Christianity." For example:

* Christianity is a monotheistic religion.
* Christianity teaches that there was an individual, commony known as "Jesus," who was both human and divine.
* Christianity teaches that belief in this individual is a path to Salvation...

Perfectly objective claims about the nature of Christianity, those.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:19 PM on January 21, 2010


I'm pretty sure my neighbors built an invisible church in their backyard, but that was probably just to skirt the HOA regulations.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:27 PM on January 21, 2010


Bible references on rifle sights used in Afghanistan to be removed


A defence contractor will voluntarily stop stamping references to Bible verses on combat rifle sights made for the US military.

In a statement released yesterday, Trijicon said that it is also providing free modification kits to remove the references from the telescopic sights already in use. The Marine Corps has purchased more than 200,000 Trijicon sights and the Army has bought about 100,000. The British Army is also using them in Afghanistan.

...

On Thursday, however, General David Petraeus, Central Command’s chief officer, called the references “disturbing".

“This is a serious concern to me and the other commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he told an audience at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

posted by Comrade_robot at 8:35 PM on January 21, 2010


If you are attempting to argue that the institutions of Christianity have not, historically, been powerful and all-too-willing to throw their weight around, you are simply disconnected from reality. Christianity does not have a history of social impotence past Constantine, and the institutions of that faith, which have only the last couple of hundred years been decoupled from identity with the faith itself in any real sense, have a very long history of meddling, politicking, and other activities which have had the aim of exerting the will of those institutions upon the public.

If you like, you can pretend that there is no connection between over a thousand years of human beings acting within a particular institution, and that the connections between them, and the context within which they acted, are unworthy of consideration, and it was simply thousands of human beings acting individually and without any context to speak of.

But to do so, you're going to have to abandon any ability to discuss racism or sexism, and I'm not sure you want to do that.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:54 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty: “'If you are attempting to argue that the institutions of Christianity have not, historically, been powerful and all-too-willing to throw their weight around, you are simply disconnected from reality. Christianity does not have a history of social impotence past Constantine, and the institutions of that faith, which have only the last couple of hundred years been decoupled from identity with the faith itself in any real sense, have a very long history of meddling, politicking, and other activities which have had the aim of exerting the will of those institutions upon the public.”

I love it when people who think a religion is hogwash take it in hand to explain to people who think a religion is true just exactly what that religion means.

PG, I think you're reading history through a lens which you in particular would like to see history through. And in a larger sense, you're buying the ridiculous arguments of Machiavelli and Hobbes and Spinoza to the effect that any sort of spirituality of any form which finds any place in the public sphere is automatically manipulative, domineering, power-hungry, and brutal.

Moreover, you're steamrolling over the simple and direct fact that during the last two thousand years Christians have been debating this very question – we've been arguing and turning over the question of the political involvement of Christianity since Christ walked the earth. What's more, unlike the two other branches of the three monotheistic faiths of the west, Christianity actually does not have an explicit and immediate political role laid out in its holy book; while they are as nuanced and deeply varied as the Christian Bible is, both the Quran and the Torah deal extensively with what the perfect society looks like, and what role Muslims and Jews have in any given society. The Christian Bible does not lay that role down, and almost says nothing about it, beyond Christ's very, very cryptic admonitions which seem almost like prescriptions for something between nonviolent protest and complete passivity.

So since we were summarily handed power in 300, we've been arguing about what that means and what to do with it. If you really believe that immediately in 300 we started slaughtering everybody we could get our hands on, that's fine, but you have no idea how history went down. It seems like you don't even understand that there were plenty of Christians in 300 who were scandalized and deeply offended that any Christian would accept any position of power; in fact, it seems as though most of the leaders of the Church at that time were at least ambivalent about it, but what would you do if a powerful and sometimes-violent dictator in charge of a regime that'd spent the last three centuries killing your people suddenly said he wanted to convert? This wasn't a simple situation where Christians happily started hoarding power and slitting throats.

Yeesh. At least go read The Grand Inquisitor before saying stuff like this.

“If you like, you can pretend that there is no connection between over a thousand years of human beings acting within a particular institution, and that the connections between them, and the context within which they acted, are unworthy of consideration, and it was simply thousands of human beings acting individually and without any context to speak of.”

Though it's a stretch, I know, what I'd really like is for you to put yourself in the shoes of someone who believes in the truth of Christianity. Even if you can't, no matter what you believe, it should be obvious that ignorance is common everywhere while wisdom and even intelligence is rare. So why is it so hard to believe that a thousand years of a tradition might have gone onto the wrong track? I know Orthodox Christians who believe that very thing, believe it cogently and coherently in ways that they could rationally describe. The fact that the little box you've put Christianity into inside your head is five sizes too small doesn't indicate anything as far as the reality of Christianity in the world.

“But to do so, you're going to have to abandon any ability to discuss racism or sexism, and I'm not sure you want to do that.”

Here you've completely lost me. Why does believing a tradition went off the rails at some point mean you can't discuss sexism or racism? Seriously, I'd like to know. Those two things don't seem to have anything to do with each other.

vorfeed: “... and let's face it, the church was incredibly powerful and completely willing to putz about in earthly affairs.”

This is a difficult point, because Christians and non-Christians mean something entirely different when they use the term "the Church." Hell, I'd even warrant that when you use the term in that sentence above, you're just using it in a vague and hand-wavey way that ultimately doesn't mean much of anything, like the term "values" or the term "culture." Who do you mean by "the church?" And don't give me some bullshit like "Roman Catholics" or "Orthodoxy" or "Protestants;" there have been Orthodox church leaders who held fabulously powerful positions in Russia just under major tyrants, and then there have been Orthodox churches that spent millennia under general repression and without temporal power whatsoever - say, the Marionites, for instance. It's the same in all branches. What's more, I get the feeling that you're judging the institutions of Christianity from the vantage-point of believing they're probably untrue; doesn't the fact that most Christians disagree with you about their own institutions give you a moment of pause?
posted by koeselitz at 1:51 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


koeselitz, I feel apologetic because I've clearly inspired you to write quite a bit, but I can't for the life of me imagine how I did it. I'm not making any sort of argument here about whether or not it is right for the religious to interact with the world on a collective basis, nor about the character of that interaction; I very carefully avoided commenting on that, since my objection was specific to the rhetoric (a word which I am here using in its purest form, to mean the structure of an argument, and not in the sense of "oh, that's just rhetoric!").

I am simply arguing that decoupling the actions of individuals from the institutions and factions within which they exist and act, and on whose behalf they act, is unwise and leads to unfortunate places. I also argue that Christianity's history is largely one in which the organization and the institution are one, and that the organized church has a very long history of power and the willingness to use it.

I don't think you've read my contributions to this thread at all, because you are saying things like:
And in a larger sense, you're buying the ridiculous arguments of Machiavelli and Hobbes and Spinoza to the effect that any sort of spirituality of any form which finds any place in the public sphere is automatically manipulative, domineering, power-hungry, and brutal.

...

The Christian Bible does not lay that role down, and almost says nothing about it, beyond Christ's very, very cryptic admonitions which seem almost like prescriptions for something between nonviolent protest and complete passivity.

...

So why is it so hard to believe that a thousand years of a tradition might have gone onto the wrong track?

...

If you really believe that immediately in 300 we started slaughtering everybody we could get our hands on, that's fine, but you have no idea how history went down.

...

Why does believing a tradition went off the rails at some point mean you can't discuss sexism or racism?
You are very plainly responding to a set of value judgements and condemnations of Christianity. That would be fine, except I have not in this thread made any such judgments or condemnations. None at all. You are raging at a phantom of my comment which exists purely in your own mind, and it's honestly a little bizarre to see you so angry and condescending in response to something that hasn't actually been said.

Now, that said, you do address, to some extent, what I'm saying, though I think you don't really understand my point. So:
Moreover, you're steamrolling over the simple and direct fact that during the last two thousand years Christians have been debating this very question – we've been arguing and turning over the question of the political involvement of Christianity since Christ walked the earth. What's more, unlike the two other branches of the three monotheistic faiths of the west, Christianity actually does not have an explicit and immediate political role laid out in its holy book; while they are as nuanced and deeply varied as the Christian Bible is, both the Quran and the Torah deal extensively with what the perfect society looks like, and what role Muslims and Jews have in any given society. The Christian Bible does not lay that role down, and almost says nothing about it, beyond Christ's very, very cryptic admonitions which seem almost like prescriptions for something between nonviolent protest and complete passivity.

...

It seems like you don't even understand that there were plenty of Christians in 300 who were scandalized and deeply offended that any Christian would accept any position of power; in fact, it seems as though most of the leaders of the Church at that time were at least ambivalent about it...
I am more than aware of the vast differences of opinion from Christian to Christian, sect to sect, denomination to denomination, and so forth on the issue of whether or not Christianity and political/cultural involvement blend, and if they do, on what setting and at what speed. I have not, however, addressed that here. I have not even alluded to it here. What I am talking about is not what Christianity means, nor if Christians should involve themselves in politics and society. Whether they should or not is completely irrelevant to my argument.

I am not speaking of what should be but what is. And the fact of history is that Christianity has for the vast majority of its existence been dominated by large organizations- churches, if we may call them that- which have had various measures of political and social power and in most cases a willingness to use that power.

If you disagree on that point, fine, let's discuss that disagreement. But that is my argument, and I am for the purposes of this argument completely agnostic regarding whether or not this is a good thing, or a pious thing, nor am I even making any claims regarding what these organizations have done. I am making a historical claim that these organizations have existed, that they have dominated the Christian community, and that they have both had some measure of power and the willingness to use it.

There is a subsidiary argument that I'm making:
Here you've completely lost me. Why does believing a tradition went off the rails at some point mean you can't discuss sexism or racism? Seriously, I'd like to know. Those two things don't seem to have anything to do with each other.
This passage is a direct result of missing my point. I am not arguing that a tradition went off the rails, or making any moral judgments about the subject matter. I am arguing that decoupling the action of many individuals who operated in the same or similar context(s) from the context and structures that the individuals in question acted within is problematic because (and I could have stated this more clearly, I think) it makes it difficult to discuss or assess the collective. ricochet biscuit understands my point:
Yeah, it somehow puts me in mind of a police apologist I heard recently who dismissed an account of police brutality by saying that, "police officers did not do this; criminals did this. Every occupation has criminals who managed to get hired in that field and police are no different."
To insist that we cannot speak of the collective makes it very difficult to understand society, because while society is at its most atomic level comprised of individuals, the groups and structures which those individuals are organized into and which they organize themselves into make up a vast portion of the character of that society. I specifically chose racism and sexism as examples because they suffer the same when one takes an individuals-only approach to the issue. (Insisting that we look only at the actions of individuals makes it impossible to understand white supremacy or patriarchy; while the racist/sexist actions of a particular white person/man are in and of themselves bad, one must be able to look at patterns of behavior across the entire class, across society, to be able to construct a full and useful account of white supremacy/patriarchy. Or more plainly: one white man passing over a black man for a job based on his race is bad, whether it happens within a society with a racist power structure built into it or not. The same act within a society with a racist power structure built into it is worse than one taking place in one that did not have such a structure, as it is part of a structure of one group taking action against another.) It's the ability to interact not only with individuals but with the groups and structures they comprise that I think Empress's insistence on addressing individuals free of their context undermines.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:47 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you are attempting to argue that the institutions of Christianity have not, historically, been powerful and all-too-willing to throw their weight around, you are simply disconnected from reality.

Well, then it's okay, because I'm not attempting to argue that.

I am attempting to argue that the institutions OF Christianity different from Christianity the idea itself.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:39 AM on January 22, 2010


Which raises the question of why "Christianity the idea itself" is even relevant. It does nothing, says nothing, doesn't exist outside of the minds of its adherents. Why talk about it in this context?
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:53 AM on January 22, 2010


I think this is something you might have to actually BE a Christian to understand, Pope Guilty.

Just because a man in power has a position in the visible Church, doesn't mean he was born again. I suspect a lot of "Christian" in power over the centuries didn't know the Savior at all.

After all, Jesus will be saying to quite a lot of people at judgement "I never knew you." And this to people who were in the Visible Church!

Let me break it down this way. He said (Jesus that is) that you would know people by their fruit, using the analogy of fruit trees. If you see a tree with apples hanging off it, you'd know it was an apple tree. If someone is claiming faith yet their actions say otherwise....chances are....well, you get what I'm saying. NOT saying that Christians are perfect, not at all. But when they stumble, they turn around, and they are heading in the right direction. Some of these historical figures I have read about? Not so much.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:40 AM on January 22, 2010


I'm kind of sick of the recurring claims that I don't know what Christianity looks like from the inside, but leaving that aside, that's basically a really big Scotsman you're tossing up there.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:44 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Which raises the question of why "Christianity the idea itself" is even relevant. It does nothing, says nothing, doesn't exist outside of the minds of its adherents. Why talk about it in this context?

....And dawn breaks late on Marblehead.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:12 AM on January 22, 2010


I think you're conflating the idea of Christianity with the group/structure of the church, which is frankly bizarre. You were earlier decrying talking about the church and now you're acting smug because I said there's no reason to talk about the abstract idea of Christianity.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:42 AM on January 22, 2010


I think you're conflating the idea of Christianity with the group/structure of the church, which is frankly bizarre.

Actually, I am advocating that we NOT conflate the idea with the group/structure of the church. Which is, frankly, what I fear people do all too often.

You were earlier decrying talking about the church and now you're acting smug because I said there's no reason to talk about the abstract idea of Christianity.

When I was saying "it's people in the church, not the church" what I meant was, "let's not forget that the group/structure of the church is different from the abstract idea of Christianity itself".

In other words, "Dominionism =/= Christianity." And the only reason I am taking pains to emphasize that is because all too often on the blue, people often seem to be confused about that very point.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:57 AM on January 22, 2010


Pope Guilty: “... that's basically a really big Scotsman you're tossing up there.”

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: 'no true Scotsman' doesn't mean anything. It's an argument that can be applied to any definition of any set, and therefore if valid would imply that no definition of any set is logically possible. "We've experimentally verified that those subatomic particles which we thought were protons were actually not true protons but instead neutrons which appeared to be protons." "Oh ho - no true Scotsman! How can you tell? - those neutrons seemed like protons a moment ago! Your definitions are incoherent, and therefore you are wrong!"

It's perfectly valid to have a coherent definition of what a Christian is and to categorize people according to that definition. If I say: "he is not a true Christian," and I have a definition of what a true Christian is which I can lay out and define to you, I am not engaging in logical fallacy, no matter how much you or he may disagree with me.
posted by koeselitz at 8:09 AM on January 22, 2010


Pope Guilty: “I am not speaking of what should be but what is. And the fact of history is that Christianity has for the vast majority of its existence been dominated by large organizations- churches, if we may call them that- which have had various measures of political and social power and in most cases a willingness to use that power.”

This is not even a verifiable statement - as the parlance has it, it's not even false. It's a vague, nebulous conflation of all kinds of different times and places that makes as much historical sense as making the claim that moustaches cause people to be more likely to become dictators.

“Which raises the question of why "Christianity the idea itself" is even relevant. It does nothing, says nothing, doesn't exist outside of the minds of its adherents. Why talk about it in this context?”

It's relevant because there is no other historical touchpoint. Do you realize how many very, very different people have identified as 'Christian' over the last two millennia? Again, if you don't take into consideration the ideas behind it, making a historical consideration of the impact of Christianity makes about as much sense as making a historical consideration of the impact of people with moustaches. Given a century, given a decade, given even a moment in one small town in the past two thousand years, the actions that even two people took on behalf of something they called "Christianity" varied so widely as to be impossible to class in the same category without having an ideological background to frame them.

“I'm kind of sick of the recurring claims that I don't know what Christianity looks like from the inside...”

You don't. You really don't. I don't doubt that you think you do, but you have no idea what Christianity looks like from the inside. You have no more idea about true Christianity than I did when I left home after suffering under my parents' particular breed of Evangelicalism for decades. I know you feel as though you saw the heart of Christianity in those times – and I don't begrudge you the right to feel as though you did – but you have to understand that those of us who actually adhere to the religion are inevitably going to disagree with you on that point. And you'll have to not take it personally. I know I take it personally far too often.
posted by koeselitz at 8:32 AM on January 22, 2010


As an aside, it's one thing to know a lot of the technical details of, say, a particular style of dress. You can look at lots of photos, know about aspects of the fabric, sources of the fibers, what the patterns represent, why certain colors are used, and so forth. You can even begin to glean enough data to know when someone is not properly wearing the attire or has it mismatched or something. But all of that is one kind of knowledge. It will never give you the same perspective as actually donning the attire and walking around in public with it on. I think that too often in these post-post-post modern dark ages we devalue the subjective aspects of something far more than is useful for study, comparison, or proper estimation. It will continue to be the point of impasse.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:39 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know what, as a Christian I think I'm alright with the semantics of saying "Christians" did this. Or that "the church" has entangled itself in politics, done and continues to do terrible things. I mean, it's a fact. I'm pretty sure Pope Guilty understands that not 100% of all Christians are Dominionists. Just as he understands, to use a comparison that someone else used, that 100% of Americans were not totally behind invading Iraq, although we can accurately say that "America invaded Iraq."

Fact is, we do need to own up to this instead of forever drawing lines between us and these terrible things. We're all in this together. It is part of our responsibility to do something about Dominionists - just as plenty of decent Americans spoke out against the war. If we're being seen by much of the world as the meddling crusaders, maybe they're not the problem, you know? Maybe we should actually consider fighting back against Dominionism in addition to drawing the distinction that not all Christians are on their side. In fact, fighting back might very well be the best way to make that distinction.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:08 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, "true Christians," instead of complaining about how people are lumping you in with these Christians-in-name-only, maybe you should be complaining about how the Christians-in-name-only lump themselves in with you. We didn't choose to call them Christians, they chose that name themselves.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 10:23 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know what, I'm done with this smug, dismissive, self-satisfied bullshit.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:15 AM on January 22, 2010


Try telling a historian that he cannot discuss the historical nature and behavior of the Roman Catholic Church because "the Roman Catholic Church had different branches", why don't you? Come on. This special-pleading nonsense doesn't fly for any other organization on Earth, and it shouldn't apply to the church, either.

I'm more than willing to admit that Christianity is a huge tent. Like I said earlier, you certainly cannot say that all Christians -- or even all churches -- were "powerful and willing to putz in earthly affairs" at all times throughout history. However, you sure as hell can say that "the church has historically been incredibly powerful and completely willing to putz about in earthly affairs", just as you can say that Europe has been "historically been incredibly powerful and completely willing to putz about in others' affairs", that Rome was "historically incredibly powerful and completely willing to putz about in others' affairs", etc, despite many individual cases -- some involving entire locations and centuries -- in which these trends did not hold.

Collective behavior over time overwhelms individual variation when viewed from afar. This is pretty much the central thesis of "history" as we know it; the alternative is to pretend as if nothing can be said about any historical group or movement, because they were all made up of individuals who "varied so widely as to be impossible to class in the same category without having an ideological background to frame them". And, again, it's funny how you don't see this argument in defense of kings, capitalists, Mongols, ancient Egyptians, abolitionists, Samurai, Athenians, Zoroastrians, or any number of other historic groups... but the moment someone mentions the church, it's "oh but it was so diverse! We can't possibly draw any conclusions about the kind of organization this was!"

Poppycock. Pop. Py. Cock. This is one of those "arguments" which would be hilarious if its implications weren't so serious. As is the whole "well if you were on the inside, you'd understand" argument -- why yes, I would then be able to understand how Jupiter transforms his adherents, Great Caesar, but history may well draw another conclusion... and no amount of faith nor slaughtered oxen will turn it aside.
posted by vorfeed at 12:26 PM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, what has been perceived over the centuries-by all of us-as The Church and the actual Body of Christ-is two different entities with some overlap.

Jesus told a parable about wheat and tares. This is kinda what he was talking about. In the parable he stated that instead of rooting out the tares (and endangering the wheat in the process) it was better to wait till harvest (a symbol for the end of the age) when the wheat and tares would be separated.

It would take a much more philosophically precise mind than mine to really discuss at length what the ramifications of this is re Dominionists, etc. People like Pope Guilty are not wrong to rail against what they see as problems. Some things ARE problems, in that the Church (here I mean the Visible Church) has done some pretty detestable things. Other things are part of the very core of true Christianity straight from the throne room of God.

I'm not afraid to speak up when the Visible Church screws up. Real Christians can certainly be deceived at times, while those that masquerade as Christians (whether they know that is what they are doing or not) can be either deceived or simply malevolently planning evil using Church as a means. And whoever above said real Christians should speak up when that happens is spot on. Jesus certainly did. He was not above calling people "vipers" and "whitewashed tombs" when necessary-and mind you this is the sinless Son of God talking!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:45 PM on January 22, 2010


vorfeed, I understand lots of things as a born again believer NOW that I couldn't understand back before that happened-and I became a Christian as an adult.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:46 PM on January 22, 2010


This is all spiralling a bit out of control, and I may be the cause of that. So let me try to re-state what I was getting at, and why.

1.) We don't "do" religion all that well here on the Blue, historically, in my experience. I've just seen WAY too many conversations about religion that turn into "well, you can't say you don't believe in thus-and-such because it says thus-and-such in the Bible! If you don't believe in the thus-and-such that's right there in the Bible, you must not be a real Christian! So either you're a half-assed Christian, or you really deep down do think thus-and-such! Either way, you suck!" I've also been involved in way, way too many anti-Catholic discussions in which current Catholics are being held to task for things that happened many, many centuries ago ("The Inquisition burned people! The Inquisition was run by the Catholic Church in the 1400's! You're Catholic now! That means you suck!")

In both cases, I'm up against people who aren't seeing an individual's religious beliefs as a nuanced thing, and are also assuming that if you join a church now you are 100% a-okay with everything it has ever ever ever done in its entire full history. When, in point of fact, many people are NOT okay with some of the sins of the past -- but at the same time, they understand that the past is just that, past, and was also largely tied up in the powers that be IN the past, and that now is different.

So on the one hand, I was just trying to avoid the "you must believe thus-and-such because you say you're a Christian" tangent yet again.

2) Also, I completely and utterly agree with Marisa in the sense that I'd love to see more Christians stand up and say "these people who are speaking for me as 'Christians' are full of it". What I've also encountered, however, is a reluctance on the part of many Christians TO do this -- to my own great confusion. In that case, I was hoping to circumvent whatever reluctance there was on the part of Christians to criticize fellow Christians by suggesting that "maybe don't look at it as criticizing their faith per se, but rather as strictly their behavior. You're not saying they're bad Christians, as I sense that accusing of that makes you uncomfortable - you're saying that they're acting like jackasses, which is different."

So in short, I was trying to steer the conversation a bit more than I should have done, most likely, but I lacked the best words to do that and instead stirred things way up.

But, that's what I was trying to do, and why, and there it is, and I"ll shut up now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:55 PM on January 22, 2010


Well, whaddaya know... A discussion about what unsolicited evangelical propaganda should be doing on U.S. military equipment assigned to soldiers of all creeds and paid for with our tax money's been overtaken by passionate Christian testimony as to who is precisely which subjective kind of Christian, what it means--no, really means-- to be born again, and who rates where in relation to the Lamb’s Book of Life, the actual body of Christ or other matter-of-fact universals we should all come to know and understand.
posted by applemeat at 2:57 PM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


The difference, applemeat, is that I think it was this lapsed Catholic/present pantheist meddler who may have inadvertently pushed the conversation down that road. Mea culpa.

But -- towards the ulitmate goal of getting the conversation back on track. The powers that be who have been alerted to the existence of these engravings on the gun barrels have formally announced that they will no longer be buying arms from the company who was doing this, so there you go. Yay.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:20 PM on January 22, 2010


The powers that be who have been alerted to the existence of these engravings on the gun barrels have formally announced that they will no longer be buying arms from the company who was doing this, so there you go. Yay.

Have they? Everything I can find says the company has agreed to voluntarily stop putting these Biblical references on their sights, which is not the same thing as "no longer buying arms from the company who was doing this".
posted by vorfeed at 5:41 PM on January 22, 2010


I don't buy the idea that we should shy away from making statements about history, out of a fear that somebody might interpret them in a stupid manner. Yes, history is complex, but we lose the ability to make any sense of it at all if we reduce everything to individual actions.

I think this is important. From my PoV, it was pretty obvious what was meant by
…the church has historically been incredibly powerful and completely willing to putz about in earthly affairs.
Huge derail and bitter feelings between people now, because of the fear that somebody might read that in a stupid manner.

We can not usefully discuss organizations and movements without generalizing: it is impossible to break it down to the actions and beliefs of individuals. Yet time and again, we have threads in which something general and readily-understood by intelligent people is taken and thrashed like a red-haired stepchild.

Metafilter: where we plate the beans so thick, you'll never digest them.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:45 PM on January 22, 2010


Hell, we think the beans have undergone some kind of transubstantiation!
posted by Burhanistan at 10:27 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hell, we think the beans have undergone some kind of transubstantiation!

Miraculously, we never run out.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:55 PM on January 23, 2010


Wondering how long it's gonna be before someone invokes Blazing Saddles.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:26 PM on January 23, 2010


Blazing Saddles Fart Scene.
posted by ericb at 12:06 AM on January 24, 2010


Call of Duty: Modern Warfare fans may note that this is the company that manufactures the ACOG sight.
posted by daHIFI at 2:52 PM on February 16, 2010


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