Walking down the street today, we saw this all too familiar Coexist bumper sticker again. Versions of it have been around since the very early 2000s. But before I explain the title of this post, for those who don’t know, let me explain what each letter of this sticker means:
C: Islam’s Crescent Moon
O: Peace Sign
E: Male/Female symbol combined
X: Judaism’s Star of David
I: Pagan, Wiccan symbol
S: Taoist Ying-Yang Symbol
T: Christian Cross
There are many fun variants of this bumper sticker, of course. But all of them advocate for the very naive message of: “We should all just get along.”
I’d wager that the people who slap these stickers happily and proudly on their cars don’t realize the futility of this message. Because, in order for religions to sincerely tolerate each other, those religions would have to severely gut their own theology — something no religion wants to do.
“Gut” in the sense that for a religion to survive, it must tell its believers or followers why it is better than or preferable to other religions. For a religion to survive, it must also encourage its believers to preferentially pass on their own set of beliefs to their children and/or other people. How can these exclusive systems ever really get along with each other? How could gutted versions of these faiths even survive for more than two generations? They couldn’t and can’t. “Exclusivism” is an essential trait of religion. And yet, to have religions that really include each other, you would have to severely gut those religions’ theologies.
Question to readers: Your thoughts?