Row over ‘biblical’ weapons in Afghanistan

Brendan Nicholson; 22/1/10

Australian special forces soldiers are using gunsights with biblical references etched on to them as they fight the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.  The ADF has several hundred of the sights, which are prized by elite troops for their accuracy over long range. Their use by US, British and New Zealand troops has raised alarm among military leaders that it could reinforce views among extremists that the West is waging a crusade against Islam. The Australian Defence Force is investigating how to remove biblical references etched on to gunsights, without damaging the weapons. The ADF and military authorities in the US, Britain and elsewhere thought the letters and numbers on the sights were simply stock or model numbers until a US soldier in Afghanistan complained to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation that the initials referred to passage from the Bible. One example was JN8:12 which turned out to be a reference to chapter eight, verse 12 in the Book of John: “When Jesus spoke again to the people he said ‘I am the light of the world.” ‘Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life’.”