The company embroiled in the controversy over Bible verse codes embossed on its gun sights announced that it will stop the practice.
Michigan-based Trijicon, Inc., which has a $660 million multi-year contract with the U.S. Marine Corps, said Thursday that the company will stop putting Bible references on all its products for the U.S. military. It will also remove all Scripture references on U.S. military products that have yet to be shipped and provide 100 modification kits to the Pentagon to remove references that are on optical sights already used in the field.
"Trijicon has proudly served the U.S. military for more than two decades, and our decision to offer to voluntarily remove these references is both prudent and appropriate," said Trijicon president and CEO Stephen Bindon, in a statement. "We want to thank the Department of Defense for the opportunity to work with them and will move as quickly as possible to provide the modification kits for deployment overseas."
Earlier this week, the media got a hold of the story that Trijicon engraves hard-to-see Bible passage references on its optical sighting devices used by the U.S. Marine Corps and Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, and by U.S. allies in those countries.
At the end of a series of numbers and letters is a Bible reference – such as JN8:12, 2COR4:6 – which can be easily overlooked as part of the stock number. The Bible references carry the common theme of Jesus being the light of the world. There is no biblical text on the sights, only numerical references to passages.
Trijicon, founded by a Christian originally from South Africa, has long included the Bible reference on its products. The company said it adopted the practice "as part of our faith and our belief in service to country."
Following the ABC News report on Monday, which turned the previously little-known story into an international debate, the U.S. Marine Corps expressed its concern about the Bible codes to the sight manufacturer. The U.S. Marine Corps said it did not know about the references before the report.
In the U.S., several groups complained that the inscription could feed into the Muslim extremists' claim that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are a religious "crusade against Islam."
The Muslim Public Affairs Council wrote in a letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates: "Allowing religious references to be placed on U.S. weaponry, which are bought and paid for by U.S. taxpayers, is unacceptable.
"Such inscriptions not only run afoul of the constitution and U.S. military rules, but they also feed into the violent extremists' narrative that the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are a 'crusade against Islam.'"
MPAC called on the U.S. government to remove all weapons with such religious reference from combat use.
In response to Trijicon's offer to remove Bible references on U.S. military products, MPAC said it welcomed the news and called it a "victory for religious freedom and our Constitutional guarantees."
Trijicon said it will also offer foreign military forces that have purchased its products, such as Britain, Australia and New Zealand, the same solution for removing the Scripture reference and guarantees that orders on future products will not have the inscription.