Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thumper Stickers

I, like TOO many people in the Washington, DC Metro area, drive to work each day. In this time, I have read a lot of bumper stickers. However, this one caught my eye.

So . . . I get it. If you're not a Christian than it's just one well-lodged fishbone or three-car accident before you're burning for all of eternity. Right.

But as many times as I've seen this type of bumper sticker, it only recently occured to me to ask who this bumper sticker is for.

What if I'm a Jehovah's witness and don't believe in hell? Now what?

What if I believe in Allah or Buddah with the same solid fervor as the driver believes in Jesus?

What if I don't follow any religion?

More to the point, why would someone who supposedly follows a man referred to as a lamb, resort to such a pithy scare tactic to get you on their team? Why do some Christians feel the need to frighten you with promises of eternal damnation to recruit?

From what I can tell, many Christians have an inherent feeling of persecution (considering what happened to their leader, I kind of get it). THEY are afraid. So much of what they are taught -- or at least how they interpret it -- is fear-based.

God smites. He wipes out the earth on a whim. He sets down stead fast rules and then lets his own kid get snuffed. So if you think you're gonna get away with jerking off to a Victoria's Secret magazine, you are seriously, seriously mistaken.

And let's not fuck around -- fear IS a good motivator. It kept me in condoms (mostly) before I got married. It stops me from going over 80 miles an hour. It pays Brinks security $30 a month. But fear shouldn't be the ONLY motivator for choosing a religion or forging a relationship with god.

I would think you'd want to get to know god because he/she/it could bring you peace, everlasting love or endless brownies. Not just a doctor's note so you don't have to engage in an eternal game of hot foot. That's like trying to befriend the neighborhood bully so that he DOESN'T beat the shit out of you.

But I realize peace doesn't sell (though I think the brownies thing would). Sure there's the "No Justice, No Peace, Know Jesus, Know Peace" sticker, but it still implies that peace cannot be had without Jesus, without a specific belief system. Which all comes back to the fact that when it comes to religion -- it is do or die. There is no middle-ground, no room for error. Which would be great if we were talking about some objective truth. But we're talking about the teachings of a 2,000 year-old book written by people who didn't eat pork because they thought God would kill them for it. Shit, my parents can't even conclusively agree on exactly who attended their wedding -- a 30-year old event that they BOTH attended!

All of this uncertainty is frightening. And I truly believe that if I were a Christian, I would be afraid -- constantly. "Did that blow job in 1996 seal my fate?" "Did God see my dream where I slapped the shit out of my neighbor for letting his dog shit on my lawn?" Seriously, I'd consider suicide to get it over with if it wouldn't send me to hell.

So I guess I do understand the fear many Christians feel and how it shows itself in their bumper stickers. However, I don't think they consider how the things they say and paste on their Honda Civics sound to the ears of a non-believer.

Just in case one of you is reading, it sounds like close-minded, spiritual bullying. The promise of hell is not a good recruiting tool -- unless you're trying to build up the other team.