Gutting Your Religion

CoexistWalking 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?

8 Comments

Filed under Philosophy & Religion

8 responses to “Gutting Your Religion

  1. “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.”

    True. But for religious people to tolerate each other, all they have to do is cling a little less tightly to the strict dogma, and recognize the importance of our shared humanity. For christians, that might mean taking the “love thy neighbor” commandment more seriously than their church tells them to.

  2. @ Ubi Dubium: long time no type! How are your doing?
    Yes, Ubi, you are right, but one of my points is that for a religion to prosper — which means to grow in number and pass on generation to generation, it needs to show its followers why it is better than others. For if they are all the same, peaceful and loving and accepting, there would be no need to join one more than another and the club’s membership would dive. Do you see my point?

  3. I think they all might need to go back to the drawing board. I’m still trying to figure out why we need religion. Couldn’t we use all that energy on something more useful and productive? It all just seems rather pointless to me.

  4. @ Midlred: I tend to agree, but it is a major method (besides sports and nations) for people to gain identity and sense of security. But since I am a former believer, I sort of understand, even if disagreeing because of the many pitfalls.

  5. Big Dummy

    You sound like a recovering conservative/fundamentalist. Broad brush that you’re painting with there. No room for mystics in every tradition that transcend.

    Here’s a story.

    Mohammad brought some Christians in to debate at his new mosque in Mecca. The time came for the Christians to pray (at that time Christians prayed three times a day). The Christians excused themselves to head out to the desert and Mohammad invited them to use the mosque. His followers were very mad.

    Seems like the followers are the exclusive ones. Jesus said, “Whoever is not against us is for us.”

    Non-duality. It’s not how humans think. As evidenced by this post. Gotta be against. Gotta fight. Gotta take down the other. “Gut” the theology. Please.

  6. Dear Big Dummy,
    Mystics are small in number (and my favorites, in all faiths), exactly because they gut their religion — and many do it very well. All power to mystics.
    Maybe you did not understand that part of my post or the natural implications of my words, or you want to believe your divine is still the same divine of all the other in the faith. soooo complex.
    Thanx for your thoughts.

  7. Big Dummy

    Glad we’re fans of the mystics.

    “Maybe you did not understand that part of my post or the natural implications of my words, or you want to believe your divine is still the same divine of all the other in the faith”
    Please see, “Non-duality. It’s not how humans think. As evidenced by this post.” Glad to know you haven’t changed. Right back to the binary. Always leading with the ego.

    I understand your post and you had better hope COEXIST can not only gut current systems, but last generations. If your kids ran blogs, they wouldn’t have to use a pen name or live in fear of retribution, would they?

    You’ve long ago established the tribal mind on this blog. It’s something I’ve come to see as universal. Deeply embedded in the human animal (see this humorous comic: https://theoatmeal.com/comics/believe )

    “How could gutted versions of these faiths even survive for more than two generations?”

    Let’s take it secular, shall we?

    American is founded on the overthrow of another government. “All Men Are Created Equal” is a take down of the divine right of kings and the woo-woo thinking of royal blood and the concept of nobility. It’s a gutting of ideology and government up until that point. How long did it survive? Well, jury is still out.

    Fast-forward 200 some years and we are at another gutting. Trump’s administration is the most corrupt in ages and thrives of hatred, binary, and absolutes. To seek the opposite, to COEXIST, think beyond the binary, and compromise is a radical act.

    Black Lives Matter is gutting the racist system of America. It’s a confrontation of a country’s history founded on the exploitation of black and brown bodies, which enshrined this system into law by stating black bodies are 3/5ths that of a white persons. A war was fought over it, a war we still might lose. Let’s hope we can COEXIST and unlearn a lot of racism and dismantle racist systems like redlining (See Netflix Doc 13th or any book on race written in the past 20 years).

    In a country where all men are created equal, LGBTQ+ folks can be fired or evicted for no good reason. None scientifically at least. And some pretty garbage faith reasons as well. Let us gut those prejudices as well. Let’s hope future generations will have a better understanding of gender and sex than we do.

    This country is going through a radical gutting of its history. How shall we survive? I hope so. But, by all means, take on a bumper sticker from 10 years ago.

  8. @DB: I will leave this rant for now.

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