Saturday, January 23, 2010

New Zealand: No Bible Quotes on Guns!

SYDNEY, Jan 22: Australia on Friday ordered its military to look at removing biblical references from weapons used by troops in Afghanistan, after New Zealand banned the “completely inappropriate” inscriptions.

Australia’s Defence Minister John Faulkner said the military had been unaware of the meaning of the letters and numbers etched into the US-made gun sights, which refer to passages in the New Testament.

“I have asked Defence (department) to examine the options available to deal with this matter without compromising the safety of our troops and critically important capabilities,” Mr Faulkner said.

His comments came as neighbouring New Zealand condemned the inscriptions as potentially inflammatory.

“They cause the same problems as putting slogans on bombs. We should not be doing anything that might give opponents any propaganda leverage,” New Zealand’s Defence Minister Wayne Mapp said.

“The markings are completely inappropriate and the Defence Force will be looking at ways to get rid of them, now and for future deliveries.”

The rifle sights are inscribed with lettering such as “JN8:12” -- an apparent reference to chapter eight, verse 12 in the Book of John which reads:

“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.”

Australia and New Zealand both have forces operating in Afghanistan and there are fears that the references could endanger troops fighting in Muslim-majority nations where the US military is already bitterly resented.

New Zealand has 260 of the rifle sights, which come from the US company Trijicon, while Australia’s military has some 1,050.

Trijicon, which also supplies US and British forces, said it had inscribed references to the New Testament on the metal casings of its gun sights for more than two decades.

But after angry reaction from Muslim and religious freedom groups to the news that it has multimillion-dollar contracts to supply hundreds of thousands of the gun sights to the US military, the firm said it would provide the US with kits to remove the references.

The Australian Defence Force, which has around 1,500 troops in Afghanistan, said it was unaware of the significance of the hard-to-spot references, which are in raised lettering immediately following the stock number on the metal casing of the gun sights, when it purchased the rifle sights. —AFP

Read the ABC News Report here.

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