The head of a D.C.-based interfaith group has called on the government to conduct a "thorough investigation" of how gun sights on military weapons came to be inscribed with coded biblical messages.
In a statement released on Monday, the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, called the findings, "extremely disturbing" and said the matter should be, "investigated by military authorities and the practice stopped immediately."
"Religious undertones have all too often been a part of military rhetoric and actions in recent years Following reports in the last year that biblical verses regularly were printed on a defense department documents and accounts of proselytizing by military personnel in Afghanistan, this latest incident adds to the perception that religion rather than national security is at the heart of our military's presence abroad."
Initial reports of the incident were given by ABC News on Monday after the broadcaster received alerts from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a secular non-profit agency based in New Mexico. According to ABC's report, the military had no prior knowledge of the inscriptions on the weapons, which were manufactured by defense contractor Trijicon.
In response, Trijicon's marketing director Tom Munson defended his company's actions, telling ABC that the inscriptions "have always been there" and said that there was nothing wrong or illegal with adding them. Munson also noted that the fact that reports against Trijicon were being made a non-Christian organization.
Gaddy refuted Munson's claims in his statement, saying that it's obvious that Trijicon, "knew they were doing something wrong and trying to get away with it or they would not have encoded messages that, when used appropriately, need no disguise."
"The company should be ashamed of its actions, which do no favor either to the United States military or to Christianity; just the opposite. Messages of life and peace should not be prostituted by placing their imprint on instruments designed for death and war."
"As a patriot of this nation, I am outraged at this corporation's lack of appreciation for our first freedom-religious freedom-and its corollary of separation between institutions of religion and institutions of government."
"As an advocate for inter-religious cooperation, I am saddened by this insensitive effort to minimize people who do not embrace Christianity."
Gaddy's Interfaith Alliance represents nearly 185,000 members across the nation from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition. The group works to champion individual rights, promote policies that protect both religion and democracy, and unite diverse voices to challenge extremism.