Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Letters and Numbers, OH MY!

Play along with me for a minute.

Pretend you are in the military.

You have been issued a weapon.

You are tasked with keeping it clean, loading, unloading, firing it accurately.

On the weapon's scope these letters and numbers are engraved in tiny letters:

or maybe


Now tell me exactly what those letters and numbers mean.

Exactly what they mean.
Not just "I think it means...."

Drawing a blank?
Personally, I think the most you could say it means in a court of law would be ACOG2COR4:6.
Anything else would be supposition.

According to this article, a gun sight manufacturing company called Trijicon has always engraved their sights thusly. The company's founded was from South Africa and wanted it so.

After all...it was HIS company...he therefore was entitled to engrave anything he wanted on his products that wasn't a trademark design from any other company.

Mr. Glyn Bindon's sights were so well made that the US government contracted to have the company make sights for the US military weapons.

But apparently, according to Mr. Michael "Mickey" Weinstein, of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, those letters and numbers ACOG2COR4:6 constitutes the establishment of a religion within the US government. "It violates the constitution!" Mr. Weinstein cries. "It violates the principle of the separation of church and state!"

All together now: HUH???????

Yes, with those simple letters and number, a religion is established.

I am horrified. I have often use the those letters and numbers in public libraries, and in private places as well. I'm pretty sure I have even seen 2, R, 4, O etc. etc on all kinds of government documents.

It is a plot...surely a plot to make Americans HAVE to be part of a new religion!

Join me now in rolling your eyes such nonsense.

The US constitution does not mention ANYWHERE the idea of separation of church and state. The idea was brought up in a letter by a founding father who mentioned that there should be a wall separating church and state, to prevent the "state" from interfering with "church".
The letter in no way suggested that the church should refrain from influencing the state. In fact, President John Quincy Adams used to give sermons with altar calls to "come to Jesus and make him LORD".

(He, by the way, was the son of John Adam who was there when the Constitution was written. If there was such a thing as separation of Church and State in the Constitution, his dad would have been quick to have corrected his son's practice!)

Now maybe....maybe if the sights had had an entire scripture spelled out instead of just (what only might be assumed to be by some) a chapter and verse cryptic reference via letters and numbers from the Bible, maybe that could be considered problematic.
Maybe person in the military would not want to use an excellent weapon if it had a phase that they considered offensive engraved on it.
But simple letters and numbers?

Oh come on Mr. Weinstein.

Get real.


Doug Indeap said...

The phrase “separation of church and state” is but a metaphor to describe the underlying principle of the First Amendment and the no-religious-test clause of the Constitution. The absence of the phrase in the text of the Constitution assumes much importance, it seems, only to those who may have once labored under the misimpression the words appeared there and later learned of their mistake. To those familiar with the Constitution, the absence of the metaphor commonly used to describe one of its principles is no more consequential than the absence of other phrases (e.g., Bill of Rights, separation of powers, checks and balances, fair trial, religious liberty) used to describe other undoubted Constitutional principles.

Some try to pass off the Supreme Court’s decision in Everson v. Board of Education as simply a misreading of Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists. Instructive as that letter is (affirming that both the free exercise and establishment clauses separate religion and government), it played but a small part in the Court’s decision. Indeed, the Court mentioned it only in passing after basing its conclusion on a detailed discussion of the historical context in which the First Amendment was developed. The metaphor “separation of church and state” was but a handy catch phrase to describe the upshot of its conclusion. The Court’s reading of the First Amendment in this regard was unanimous; all nine Justices agreed on that much, but split 5-4 on whether the Amendment precludes states from paying for transportation of students to religious schools.

Perhaps even more than Thomas Jefferson, James Madison influenced the Court’s view. Madison, who had a central role in drafting the Constitution and the First Amendment, confirmed that he understood them to “[s]trongly guard[] . . . the separation between Religion and Government.” Madison, Detached Memoranda (~1820). He made plain, too, that they guarded against more than just laws creating state sponsored churches or imposing a state religion. Mindful that even as new principles are announced, old habits die hard and citizens and politicians could tend to entangle government and religion (e.g., “the appointment of chaplains to the two houses of Congress” and “for the army and navy” and “[r]eligious proclamations by the Executive recommending thanksgivings and fasts”), he considered the question whether these actions were “consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom” and responded: “In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the United States forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion.”

When discussing separation of church and state, it is critical to distinguish between the “public square” and “government.” The principle of separation of church and state does not purge religion from the public square–far from it. Indeed, the First Amendment’s “free exercise” clause assures that each individual is free to exercise and express his or her religious views–publicly as well as privately. The Amendment constrains only the government not to promote or otherwise take steps toward establishment of religion.

The First Amendment embodies the simple, just idea that each of us should be free to exercise his or her religious views without expecting that the government will endorse or promote those views and without fearing that the government will endorse or promote the religious views of others. By keeping government and religion separate, the establishment clause serves to protect the freedom of all to exercise their religion. Reasonable people may differ, of course, on how these principles should be applied in particular situations, but the principles are hardly to be doubted. Moreover, they are good, sound principles that should be nurtured and defended, not attacked. Efforts to transform our secular government into some form of religion-government partnership should be resisted by every patriot.

BTW, the firm confirms the Bible references.

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