Military: It Could Take A Year To Fix 'Jesus Rifles'

Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he was "very concerned" to learn of the Biblical markings on the Trijicon scopes. "Our mission is to protect the population we're serving and establish conditions for security, stability, and development, and we strive to do that while remaining sensitive to the cultural and religious norms of the populace we are supporting."

Within a week of the initial ABC News report in January, the Department of Defense announced that Trijicon had agreed to stop printing the verses on new scopes intended for military use. The U.S. military also said it would modify the scopes already in use, and Trijicon agreed to provide 100 modification kits for the removal of the codes.

But in March, Weinstein contacted ABC News to say that service members in Afghanistan were sending his group messages claiming that the military was dragging its feet on modifying the scopes.

Weinstein said the service members complained that they felt uncomfortable with the unaltered scopes because many of the Afghan civilians and military forces being trained by the U.S. were aware of the controversy over the Bible markings.

"In one case, a village elder refused to let one of our young soldiers into his house to look because he had a Jesus rifle," said Weinstein. "He went to his immediate superior [who] told him if you continue to complain, we'll take your rifle away and replace it with something less lethal."


AFGHAN REMOVING BIBLE CODE

"It's not just embarrassing to have these "Jesus rifles" with us but it's also a serious security threat to all of us," reads one e-mail that Weinstein said MRFF received from a service member in Afghanistan . "When we walk into an Afghan village trying to determine whether it's 'friend or foe' regarding the Taliban etc. and they ask us right off the bat if we are using the 'Jesus rifles' it is a VERY BAD way to start out considering our combat mission."

When first contacted by ABC News about Weinstein's allegations in March, the U.S. military told ABC News that it had received no complaints from service members about the Trijicon inscriptions.

However, the military gave conflicting explanations on how it was modifying the scopes used by soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A military spokesperson, Capt. Geraldine Carey of the Marine Corps, initially told ABC News that "deployed units will not begin the modification until they return to their home stations." Carey's statement echoed a March 15th article in the Army Times, in which Col. Doug Tamilio, a weapons administrator for the Army, said that ACOGs in war zones would not be modified until the soldiers carrying them had returned home to the U.S.

"We've got soldiers engaged in combat; I don't want to disrupt what the soldiers are doing over there," Tamilio told the Army Times.

When ABC contacted Capt. Carey for clarification, however, she gave a different answer. She said that an unspecified number of the Trijicon modification kits had been sent to deployed locations – meaning to Afghanistan and Iraq -- for units to perform the scope modifications themselves.

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