A Michigan company that supplies gun sights to Israel and other companies has agreed to provide a kit to remove the “JN8:12” code, a reference to the New Testament passage of John 8:12 that Jesus is the “light of the world.” Another type of the company’s gun sights is stamped with “2COR4:6,” a reference to part of the second letter of Paul to the Corinthians.
The coded references are etched on the sights and are barely visible on the hundreds of thousands of rifles supplied to several countries around the world, including the United States and Israel. The IDF Rabbinate told Arutz Sheva that the codes do not violate Jewish law but that it is preferable to remove them because of the "sensitivity" regarding their appearance on weapons used by the army of the Jewish State.
The IDF said it was unaware of the codes until the issue was raised in the United States. The coded gun sights appear on many Israeli rifles as well as 300,000 gun sights in the U.S. army and marines.
The guns with the coded gun sights have been termed “Jesus rifles,” and U.S. General David Petraeus, head of the American Central Command, called their appearance “disturbing” and said that they "could create a perception that is absolutely contrary to what we have sought."
Trijicon, founded by an evangelical Christian, announced it would be providing free kits for removing the coded references on the gun sights. The company stated, "As part of our faith and our belief in service to our country, Trijicon has put Scripture references on our products for more than two decades. Trijicon has proudly served the US military for more than two decades, and our decision to offer to voluntarily remove these references is both prudent and appropriate.”
Americans have raised concerns that the sights violate a government ban on proselytizing troops. Australia and New Zealand have ordered their troops on the front lines to remove the codes, but British officials said they did not issue a similar order because it would have a “detrimental effect” on combat operations.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations warned that the gun sights were a "potential recruiting tool for anti-American forces."
The codes never came into widespread notice until a former U.S. air force officer, Michael Weinstein, brought the issue to public attention. He operates the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance in New York, wrote U.S. President Barack Obama, “Images of American soldiers as Christian crusaders come to mind when they are carrying weaponry bearing such verses. This incident simply adds to the perception that religion rather than national security is at the heart of our military’s presence abroad.”