Understandably, proselytizing in the United States military is strictly prohibited. In Iraq and Afghanistan, especially, this must be enforced to prevent criticism that the U.S. is embarked on a religious "Crusade" in its war against al Qaeda and the Taliban.
According to ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross, proselytizing is, however, taking place and the military isn’t happy. Missionary groups have even shipped New Testament bibles in Afghani to military installations in the war zone in the hope that zealous soldiers will distribute them to the Muslim public.
On a much larger scale, proselytizing has been perpetrated by the Trijicon company via their $660 million, multi-year military contract to provide 1 million rifle sights to the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. Soldiers refer to them as “Jesus Rifles” because, engraved on the sights, as part of the serial number, are secret coded references to New Testament Bible passages.
This practice began under Trijicon’s founder, Glyn Bindon, a devout Christian who included passages from John, Matthew and Corinthians, each referring to Jesus as “the light of the world.” The coded serial numbers look like this ACO64X23JN8:22, with this last part referring to John Chapter 8 verse 22.
Once discovered, the Department of Justice demanded that the practice be rectified and Trijion agreed to stop its policy and remove bible references that already exist. In this case the warning, “let the buyer beware” really hit home.
We can learn an important lesson from this incident that scammed the U.S. military. Although freedom of religion is protected by the Constitution, there must be appropriate controls and limits to proselytizing. The military draws its line based on its guidelines, and we should draw the line when proselytizing is unwelcome, deceptive or manipulative.
Rabbi BZ Kravitz is a crisis counselor and chaplain for several police agencies. He is proficient at scuba diving and martial arts, and is also a certified firearms instructor. He is the founder ofwww.Be-True.org and www.JewsforJudaism.org, non-profit organizations that promotes critical thinking in response to deceptive cults and missionaries