Monday, November 12, 2007

Bumper stickers 4 Jesus

While driving home the other day, I noticed the following bumper sticker on a car in front of me. It read, in bold letters: “Real men follow Jesus.” At a red robot I took the following picture of it on my cell phone.

This got me thinking about religious bumper stickers, which I’ve started to notice recently. I saw another one the other day which read: “Without the Bread of Life, you’re toast!” Most of the time I chuckle appreciatively at the clever play on words used on bumper stickers in general, even for some of the religious ones, but the bumper sticker above got me thinking about the underlining belief that motivates some religious phrases. The phrase “Real men follow Jesus” is a statement about Christian males. But if you think about it, it is also a statement about non-Christian males: the phrase is effectively making the implicit statement that males who don’t follow Jesus are not real men. I don’t know about you, but there are millions of Muslim, Hindu, atheist and agnostic men – who are loving husbands and fathers; living honest, moral lives – who might take offence at this statement.

I’ve noticed that some religious language promotes segregation; it demeans individuals by making negative statements (explicit or implicit) about those who are not part of the group. I remember, as a Christian, referring to my non-Christian friends – with much sympathy – as those who were ‘lost’ or ‘unsaved’. Such religious language is based on the erroneous belief that if you don’t follow Jesus, you cannot be fully happy or fulfilled; if you are not a Christian, you are somehow incomplete as a human being.

For millions of people Jesus might be the answer – and I have no problem with this – but for many atheists like myself, not only is Jesus not the answer, he isn’t even a viable option. The most important thing that I’ve learnt since loosing my faith is that it is very possible for someone to live a healthy, happy, fulfilled, and complete life without religion. I wonder if Christian language can ever come to a point of recognising this fact.

I’m not one for bumper stickers, but if I ever wanted to stick a bumper sticker on my car, I would choose one that – instead breaking down another person or group in order to raise the attractiveness of my own belief – promotes positive values, respect, and celebrates what it is to be human.

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See an update of this post: Bumper stickers 4 Jesus revisited

17 comments:

Ryan Green said...

Nice page, I've seen that stupid sticker before too... Ugh! Anywho, just wanted to say nice site and shamelessly plug my own blog.

http://crazychristianblog.blogspot.com/

curtismchale said...

The reasons you list are the exact reasons I hate 'religious' bumper stickers. Being a Christian myself I watch people with the stickers cut others off... and wonder what the person who was just treated like that now feels about Christians.

Anonymous said...

Dear Kevin, I am an American "believer" that stumbled across your webpage, and saw the following; I remember, as a Christian, referring to my non-Christian friends – with much sympathy – as those who were ‘lost’ or ‘unsaved’. Such religious language is based on the erroneous belief that if you don’t follow Jesus, you cannot be fully happy or fulfilled; if you are not a Christian, you are somehow incomplete as a human being.

With due respect, it is my understanding of the Christian faith, and what the bible speaks of, that "lost" and "unsaved" are referring to those individuals who have rejected the salvation offered by God, through Jesus Christ, :the terms not necessarily pertaining to being happy or fulfilled as you mention.
It is my prayer and hope that you will find your way back to Jesus so that you can spend your eternity with Him. To reject Him, is to accept an eternity without Him.
Godspeed, my friend.
Mike.

Jason Hughes said...

Accepting an eternity without Jesus sounds like heaven... But that could just be me... :D

Regardless, Mike, you first say ""lost" and "unsaved" are referring to those individuals who have rejected the salvation offered by God, through Jesus Christ, :the terms not necessarily pertaining to being happy or fulfilled as you mention." but then you follow up with "To reject Him, is to accept an eternity without Him." with the implicit endorsement of "you will be unhappy for eternity without him."

I can't help but think you may want to think through your argument just a bit longer...

Lui said...

I can't help thinking that this bumper sticker is used to compensate for the driver's personal insecurities about his own sense of manliness. I remember reading an article about domestic violence in America and its link to fundamentalism; adherents of Jesus are expected to love him above all else, and this can engender emasculate feelings in males. In order to reassert their "manhood", they beat their wives and impose a totalitarian regime on their children. I have also heard fundamentalists say thinks like "Look ladies, God said that men are the head of the household. End of story." That sort of blustering, chauvinistic and (I would argue) fascist attitude is the sort of thing that would lead a Christian male who was so inclined to advertised his arse-headedness.

There is also something that is rather ironic. Christ is supposed by his followers to be the epitome of kindness and tolerance, yet some of his most avid fans are the nastiest, most hypocritical, social-Darwinistic, and intolerant folk there are.

Anonymous said...

REAL MEN DON"T NEED ANY FUCKING MAKE-BELIEVE gods! We're all gonna die, folks. Get used to it, and make the most of this life. There is nothing else!!!!!!!!!!

Cori said...

I think this bumper sticker was a play on an advertising campaign that went through South Africa some years back around 'real men don't rape'. It called out the destructive idea in South African society that to be a man is to be violent towards women. So with this in mind I at first thought this bumper sticker was calling Christian men to be 'real men' (respectful of women). But I can see how it is probably not read like this by most people.

Christian bumper stickers (T-shirts, arm bands)generally fail to say anything helpful to anyone...

tichius said...

Truth, by definition, is exclusive.

Which means either it's Jesus Christ, or it's Buddha, or it's Mohhamed, or it's Joseph Smith, or it's you, or there is no answer, or it's ____________.

What happens naturally when you use the either-or logic is that ONE is true, and all the answers that oppose it are false.

If you are really searching for the truth, you will recognize that all the religions of the world claim exclusivity. Even atheisism, for as you pointed out, "[Jesus] isn't even a viable option."

You are upset that the bumper
made the claim in relation to JESUS, if it had read:

REAL MEN BELIEVE IN THEMSELVES

REAL MEN KNOW THERE IS NO GOD

I wonder if we would still be having this conversation.

I understand what you are saying, though. Inherently, there is something negative in the implication "REAL MEN..."

It sounds really nice to say: "instead breaking down another person or group in order to raise the attractiveness of my own belief – promotes positive values, respect, and celebrates what it is to be human."

But, you would promote values that are positive within your worldview, EXCLUDING all the values that you find negative, celebrating what you believe it means to be human, EXCLUDING what it does not mean to be human. You would have to do this to say anything meaningful.

My point is merely this: if you are promoting positive values and truth, the best thing for someone who does not practice these things, is for them to see themselves as lacking. Why? They may see that they need to change.

Marie P. said...

I really like what you have to say. I left my evangelical faith completely only a few years ago. Its been a real battle to finally trust myself and my faith. I really like your blog and am interested in your experiences. I'm still working on letting go of anger from my experiences in Christianity. Well, thanks for sharing!! - Marie

tmcody said...

Why is it that in order to be "rational" and "accepting" of others we must not make negative comments about them or their faith. Tolerance and understanding are worthwhile pursuits but should not be pursued with blind acceptance of... well everything. EveryONE should receive acceptance but not everyTHING... do you catch my drift. For some reason in our society tolerance is seen has a the highest form of love. But love with out truth is absurd. You can love a misbehaving child while still pointing out what he is doing is wrong. In terms of people's faith, accepting everyones faith with rose colored glasses isn't the answer, and neither is telling everyone there going to hell the answer. Quite frankly no one wants to be told that what there doing is wrong, and quite frankly were all doing something wrong so why don't we invite correction, from God and maybe with a little courage from others as well. Weve only got 80 years to live.

sincerely
Tyler
tmcody@hotmail.com

PS What is a real men? Does anyone know?

Anonymous said...

YOU THINK THIS STICKER IS STUPID? HAVE YOU BEEN LOOKING IN THE MIRROR LATELY? THE MEN WHO ACTUALLY HAVE THE STICKERS ON THEIR CARS ARE MEN THAT BELIEVES IN JESUS AND FOLLOW JESUS NO MATTER WHAT. THEY ARE NOT AFRAID TO STAND UP FOR WHAT THEY BELEIVE AND ARE NOT AFRAID TO SHOW OTHER PEOPLE THAT THEY ARE A BELIEVER IN CHRIST. YOU HAVE AN E-MAIL ADRESS THAT A FEW PEOPLE SEE. THESE MEN WILL SHOW THE WORLD IF THEY CAN THAT JESUS IS THE ALFA AND OMEGA. EVER WONDERED WHY YOU DO NOT SPEAK OF JESUS AS THE LATE JESUS, ITS BECAUSE CHRISTIANS SERVE A LIVING GOD. JUST REMEMBER GOD WILL NEVER LEAVE YOUR HAND EVEN IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO HOLD HIS HAND ANYMORE. JESUS STILL LOVES YOU. THE FACT THAT THIS STICKER BOTHERS YOU IS A SIGN THAT THE HOLY GHOST IS ACCUSING YOU OF SOMETHING THAT IS WRONG IN YOUR LIFE.THE DEVIL WANTS TO FOOL YOU TO BELEIVE THAT THERE IS NO GOD AND THAT JESUS HURT YOU IN THE PAST. THE DEVIL IS TELLING YOU A LIE. JESUS DOES NOT WANT YOU TO BE HURTING OR TO BE ANGRY. THAT IS THE DEVILS WORK. EVERY CHRISTIAN IS A SINNER THE ONLY THING WE DO IS REPENT AS SOON AS WE SINNED. I PRAY TO GOD FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOU SO THAT THE MOCKING SPIRIT UPON YOU CAN BE BIND IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST.

Jason Hughes said...

Way to say something constructive there, Slappy.

Tell me, does the shouting help cover up the emptiness of your argument?

Anonymous said...

Jason if shouting doesn't even help you to realize the reality of God nothing will may God have mercy on you're soul one day if not, good luck to where ever you believe you are going the reality is you are going to die and you cant tell when that day is coming so if there is any slapping going to be done it is not you. I'm not shouting start to realize you are not God.

Jason Hughes said...

Slappy said: the reality is you are going to die

WHAT?!?!?! No one ever told me that before! Are you serious? I'm going to die?? Say it isn't so!!!

Can you please further explain the "reality of god"? Actually, something easier: Explain "reality" in your own words in 500 words or less (not counting "the," "and," and "but"...)...

Reality is: something that is neither derivative nor dependent but exists necessarily

Like oxygen. Tell me, if god is like oxygen, how do people--happy, well-adjusted people like Kevin, myself, and a HOST of intelligent people who visit here regularly--live without him? Could it be--and I mean this with the utmost respect for your invisible friend and his collective justice league--he isn't necessary to live a good, meaningful life? Unfortunately for yo and others, your god doesn't meet the criteria for "reality," as the very concept is both very derivative and entirely dependent on so many disclaimers and "what if's," it's impossible to know how you could even consider it a "reality" except in the most crazy of universes...

(FYI: This is where you fall back on the hell argument... which you won't, because I told you you would...)

And where have I ever claimed to be god? (Not that the power of lightning at my fingertips wouldn't be pretty awesome, particularly at rush hour, but I digress...)

Kevin Parry said...

Hi Anonymous

I'm afraid using the fear of hell as an argument will be lost on most who read this blog. This argument is based on fear; it doesn't appeal to any intellectual enquiry, to evidence, or to philosophical argument. As I wrote elsewhere, any position (e.g., Christianity) that uses fear as a tool to persuade is sure sign that that position is incredibly weak - it can no longer be defended by logical argument. And I made the decision long ago to never accept arguments based on fear, simply because such arguments tell us nothing about the validity of the position being argued for.

All the best
Kevin

Anonymous said...

Great blog post. I was raised in the ridiculous cult of evangelical Christianity and I am SO THANKFUL to be free of that fear-mongering nonesense! As Kevin so eloquently posted, accepting arguments based on fear (which is the entire premise of Christianity; i.e., if you don't believe that a virgin got herself knocked up without having sex; if you don't believe in Adam and Eve; if you don't believe that a man walked on water; if you don't want to believe that you are fundamentally flawed and unworthy of God's love -- then you will burn in hell) is a pathetic, limiting way to live. I believe, 100 percent, in Christ; I just don't believe the nonsense that Christianity teaches in his name. I think evangelical Christians are the most hypocrital bunch of morons to walk the face of the earth and it's no wonder so many people hate Americans these days.

Anonymous said...

you say that the men who put the sticker on there cars are knocking other non-believer's down but aren't you knocking down the believers if you say this!