A Sequel: Bumper Stickers Make Terrible Philosophers

While riding home from a play in Ballard with my good friend and brother Andy Zook, we saw a bumper sticker on a car that read, “G-d Bless All Nations”. Underneath it, 15 different religious symbols stood all in a row. A cross, a star of David, a crescent moon and star, a yin-yang, and a grip of other eastern religious symbols that I did not recognize lined the sticker. Needless to say, it made me sick to my stomach. What I find consistently baffling in the West is how religious relativists pair tolerance with ignorance and call it respect. This bumper sticker takes it to a whole new level.

First, the obvious (and I am trying to maintain intellectual integrity by not using obscene language) incongruity comes in the sheer stupidity of the sticker. Of all those religious signs, as far as I am aware, not a single one is representative of a nation-state. Perhaps there are Islamic or Christian states, but currently, no nation is a theistic nation. If the bumper sticker said, “G-d Bless All People” or “All Religions” (a statement that probably would be somewhat offensive to the atheist religions) then I would not be upset. Instead, it said “Nations”. Nevertheless, the symbols of nations, flags, were nowhere to be found.

The ridiculous logic of this bumper sticker overtly demonstrates people’s inability to separate faith from national status. It buys right into the beliefs of the Religious Right who claim the U.S. is a Christian nation. Furthermore, it destroys the credibility of those of us who do want to be respectful of the religious traditions of others by making us look ignorant and arrogant. Please, before you go spouting off about how you love all people of all faith, learn something about other faith. Moreover, learn something about your own faith. Know why you believe what you believe. Otherwise, you will go around thinking Jesus, Mohamed, Shakyamuni, Lao Tzu, Confucius, and all those other religious leaders made countries rather than ways of faith, and we should love the people in those countries. Please, just do it.

Nations are religious organizations, but not these ones.


About ben adam

The world is going to hell in a handbasket, and we might miss Armageddon because we're too busy watching MTV and CNN. Please, read a book, throw a ball, bake some bread, and for goodness sake, turn the TV off.
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3 Responses to A Sequel: Bumper Stickers Make Terrible Philosophers

  1. Sophie says:

    The word nation was not limited to the modern concept of a nation-state as we see it today. ‘Nation’ can refer to a body of people who have no common nation-state to call their own but have a common heritage / culture eg, the Kurdish ‘nation,’ the Navajo ‘nation’ (though they do arguably have their own ‘nation-state’), and of course the Palestinian nation. Now you are correct in saying that more often than not, ‘nation’ does not refer to one religious group, especially in the case of universalist religions such as Christianity, Islam or even Buddhism for that matter. The Palestinians include both Christians and Jews. However, I tend to think that the creator of the bumper sticker may have been stating something like God bless members of all nations and their religions (?). Something to that effect.


    • ben adam says:

      Sophie, wow! Great response. It had been a very long time since I wrote this. I forgot what it was even about! However, the difference between your comment and my statement is the point (that you partially pointed out) which is that the ‘Kurdish’ or ‘Navajo’ nations are more precisely ethnic groups. This of course makes sense seeing as how the translation for ‘nations’ from Greek is the root for ethnic, “ethnos”. As someone who wants to get as far away from creating ethnic or national groups centered on religions, I find this sticker frustrating. I think the progressive view of tolerance has excused ignorance and called it love. This is incorrect. Great critique though! Well put.

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