This week I want to discuss the bumper sticker I have on my car. The one that gets a lot of remarks, mostly positive, but some completely out of left field.
You see, I have this sticker, like the picture above, that has the word COEXIST written out with symbols of different religions and political movements. Years ago when I first saw this word on a car I knew I had to have one. What better thing can we advertise than asking everyone to just simply get along with each other.
To my surprise not everyone saw it as the positive message I did. I have had people to ask me such things as: Do you believe in Jesus? Are you a Christian? Does that have something to do with the Devil?
Where do people get such ideas? What do they think the word COEXIST means? So here is the definition of coexist from Merriam-Webster dictionary:
1 :to exist together or at the same time
2 :to live in peace with each other especially as a matter of policy
And, the explanation of all the symbols used:
The “C” has been replaced with a Crescent moon. This symbol has been lined with Islam since the 14th century, according to historian Alfred Znamierowski. The “o” here has been replaced with a peace sign, originally used in the British anti-nuclear movement. It has been adorned with Roman Venus and Mars symbols. When used in combination, these symbols are used to express solidarity with gender queer causes, like LGBT rights. The lower-case “e”, a mathematical symbol for the basis of the natural logarithm, has been appended with the word “evolution.” The intent here is to suggest equality between advocates of Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection and the religious and political beliefs of the other icons.
The “x” has been replaced with a Star of David. This symbol was recognized as a global symbol for Judiasm by the First Zionist Congress in 1897, according to Israeli historian Gershom Schloem. The “i” is represented by an ankh. The ankh was originally a common symbol in ancient Egyptian religions, but in modern time has been used by many neo-pagans who see it as a symbol of strength or wisdom. The “s” has been substituted for a taijitu, a Taoist symbol that represents balance between Yin, or shady forces, and Yang, or sunny forces. The final letter, “t”, has been replaced with a Christian cross. The Cross has been a symbol of Christianity since the beginning of the second century, once crucifixion fell out of fashion as a mode of execution.
By placing all of these symbols together, the sticker suggests that all of these philosophical and religious traditions can exist at the same time. Displaying this sticker is a handy way of asking religious practitioners to get along with each other. It’s a touching representation of multiculturalism.
And the controversy:
Many extremely conservative religious practitioners object to the implication of equivalence between their religious iconography and that of others. Zealous practitioners of conservative Islam cite the Shahada, the first pillar of Islam, which states “There is no God but Allah.” Conservative Christians quote the first commandment, which states “I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.”
These practitioners are concerned that the spread of multicultural thinking represents a threat to human salvation. Both religions, though, ultimately council humility. The Quran states “God will judge between those who believe,” suggesting that it isn’t for people to decide what others believe. Similarly, John Macquarrie, one of the most well-known Christian theologians of the 20th century, wrote “I do not deny for a moment that the truth of God has reached others through other channels.”
Guess this helps to explain some of the questions and remarks I have received from people. I do feel more people are in agreement with me than find fault with it and that’s a good thing.
I like my bumper sticker and my prayer is that one day we can all COEXIST in peace and harmony. I am finding that more and more people are tolerant of other faiths and more of us are wanting to know about other faith practices. Knowledge is the greatest power of all.
Until next time,
The above symbol explanation and controversy was taken from Crazy Sticker Guy’s eBay Store. Please check out this store if you want a sticker for your bumper.