T-shirt (or car tag) theology

By David Waters A South Carolina man believes he has found the way to resurrect the “I Believe” car tag … Continued

By David Waters

A South Carolina man believes he has found the way to resurrect the “I Believe” car tag that was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge earlier this month. Just ask the state to make one, something Oran Smith as president of a private group, the Palmetto Family Council, can do that the state legislature (which tried and failed) cannot.

“You have to have a death before you can have a resurrection,” said Smith, comparing the cause of the resurrected Christ to a government-issued license plate for motor vehicles.

Meanwhile, a little farther to the South, the ACLU has taken up the cause of a Florida ‘Christian’ group that has been impeded from expressing its message of hope, love and eternal salvation — on a T-shirt. The ACLU filed suit on behalf of two families from the ironically-named Dove World Outreach Center whose children were not allowed to wear “Islam is of the Devil” T-shirts at school.

Dove’s Terry Jones says his group is compelled to defend its beliefs by whatever means of apparel necessary: “This is why we also take a stand against Islam, which teaches that Jesus is not the Son of God, therefore taking away the saving power of Jesus Christ and leading people straight to Hell.”

OK. It’s easy to make light of people who feel not only the need but the God-given obligation to proselytize by slogan. But it’s a free country and people have a right to express their religious beliefs, however simplistic, judgmental or distorted they might be.

Fortunately, we live in a nation ruled by secular rather than religious laws. Courts and not clergy will settle these disputes. Still, you get the idea that people who push government to support evangelism wish that it were otherwise.

Why do people who benefit from the fact that this isn’t a theocracy seem to think it ought to be?

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  • outragex

    The license plate idea is all about fundamentalist Christians wanting wedge issues when government does not endorse their beleif as the best. Any Christian can buy a license plate frame that establishes his bumper theology for a few dollars. This is not okay, however, for the militant Christian fundamentalist wants a governement endorsement that “proves” his faith is government approved. I have always wondered about my Christian fundamentalist brothers who complain so loudly about manger scenes and ten commandments on public property, but fail to put them up on their church or residential property. “Government is evil, but we demand its endorsement of our narrow form of Christian belief.”

  • ThishowIseeit

    Any bumbersticker or any message in the license plate is a distraction for the driver of the following car and could increase the risk of accident.

  • skewb

    I once saw a bumper sticker that read “Jesus Saves” on a car that had crashed into a tree.

  • norriehoyt

    I always liked:MY KARMA RAN OVER MY DOGMALots to think about there.

  • mbc7

    How about one set of rules. At schools, freedom of speech controls unless the speech is disruptive of the educational environment. And the analysis of disruptive must follow one standard. If secularist students want to have a day of silence for gay rights, then students of faith can have their day of silence to oppose abortion. School educrats who allow one, but ban the other should be liable in civil court for punative damages. This isn’t all that hard. In the real world, Freedom of Speech controls.

  • Sitka1

    I saw a bumper sticker that read “Jesus, save me from your followers.” It’s been a favorite of mine ever since.

  • coloradodog

    Personally, I prefer these little decorations to identify the shallow and insecure who need to label themselves as “Christian” in hopes they might get a break from their fellow “believing” police officers or in dealings with others.I like it because for the same reason blacks prefer an outright white racist to someone who pretends they are not and wants blacks to believe them. The trinkets clearly tell me what I am dealing with.Years ago in Colorado Springs, a little fish on a car bumper or a business card was an indicator in my business of a higher risk of someone not paying on time or trying later to receive more than was contracted for. This weak personality type was also so insecure in their faith that they had to hide behind their little religious symbol to say “look at me, I’m religious and holy, trust me to do no wrong, I’m special to God and you’re not”

  • kesac

    The First Amendment tells us that the federal gov’t “will make no laws restricting the practice of religion”.

  • AlwaysQuestioning

    If you must absolutely parade your faith, I recommend this thoughtful, non-offensive bumper sticker spotted recently in the DC area: God is too big for any one religion!

  • samujohn

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”Kesac incorrectly cites the U.S. Constitution and thereby misses the little problem of the establishment clause.

  • khote14

    I am grateful to the christian gods that they have made their followers such idiots.And I am grateful, in this season of whatever, that my country protects me and others like me from the normal religious oppression that always follows from large crowds of morons sitting/standing together in large crowds, worshiping corpses on torture devices, cannibalizing their gods, molesting children, oppressing women, burning books, and … what else is it that you religious idiots do?oh yeah, suffocate the intelligence of ours species. Merry Christmas and a happy new year. I hope you have a fine drunken time.

  • dlkimura

    Too bad the Romans didn’t invent the guillotine. We’d have big gold ones mounted in churches, people wearing them as jewelry, and the pope could wave one around while chanting his mumbo-jumbo.

  • dricha8548

    Wow! Coloradodog Writes, “This weak personality type was also so insecure in their faith that they had to hide behind their little religious symbol to say “look at me, I’m religious and holy, trust me to do no wrong, I’m special to God and you’re not””I’m so glad Cdog is not stereotyping all Christians AND has the ability to read the minds of anyone with a bumper sticker. Cdog should work for Home Land Security.I guess this is just another example of Christian bashing, which seems to be growing in popularity.”Jesus wept”. John 11:35

  • arminius3142

    Coloradodog,Re mottoes and bumper stickers:Back in the 60s, there was an unofficial motto among ultra-conservites: “Kill a Commie for Christ”. There actually was a T-Shirt recently available: “Who Would Jesus Bomb?”As for bumper stickers:On a very serious note, my favorite is this:

  • KingTrolland

    There are plenty of business’s with either biblical names or slogans trying to make as if they are more to be trusted then the more secular sounding business’s. My advise would be to steer away those charlatans and leave them for the dunderheads.

  • WesFromStPaul

    I’ve never understood why people put religious symbols (“fish”, Jesus bumper stickers, etc.) on the back of their vehicles where those symbols get covered with dirt or snow from the road. If a symbol is sacred to you why would you allow it to get covered with crap? The same is true for placing a flag on the back of your car…

  • timechange28

    I find it very interesting that so many people think Jesus needs their help. On the contrary, they need his, so let go of all these stupid bumper stickers and slogans and trust that the Universe is in control, not us!

  • lufrank1

    Ignorance Rules. As ALWAYS!

  • tojby_2000

    Jesus -via Matthew 6:6- exhorts his followers to pray in private lest overweening pride confound the communication and make the devotee look like a clown. Let all those with inflatable shoes pull over read their holy word.

  • chatard

    People who benefit from the fact that this isn’t a theocracy do NOT think it should be, and you,sir, are being disingenuous when you suggest they do; i.e., you are a liar. But then, your motivation is political, as it always is with the “On Faith” column. It’s not about faith, it’s about name-calling and pushing the secularist agenda.

  • djmolter

    If you allow “I Believe” with a cross on a license plate, then you should allow “Satan is the One” with a pentagram. That, or disallow any religious reference. Private institutions certainly have the right to stop people from wearing or displaying slogans that conflict with their beliefs in a private place. But if I want to wear my “Satan Rulz” T-shirt to a Christian rally in public place, on what grounds can anyone stop me?I, too, don’t see the need to wear one’s faith on one’s sleeve, but I have no problem with anyone doing that if that’s what they want to do. I’m a bit tired of Christians whining about being persecuted for their beliefs, especially in light of the persecution inflicted on other faiths by Christians over the years. If you believe in anything — and even if you believe in nothing — someone will oppose your right to do so. That’s the real problem.

  • nikki29649

    I live is SC and they are just a bunch of hypocrites. These people try to infringe their beliefs on every aspect of our lives. There is name calling and faith-based agenda in the Christian ranks as well. RELIGION DIVIDES US! If we could live together without it, we would be better off.Besides, Jesus, Buddah, Allah, and the Pope don’t need our help!

  • rasterfreeart

    The best bumper sticker out there is:”The religious right is neither.”

  • Mortal

    I have never understood the need to put your slogan on a licence plate, when a bumper sticker would do the job just as well, or better.

  • Nymous

    Jesus’s Dad, that Yawheh guy who’s the God of Abraham might be more than a little unhappy with those t-shirts from the Bird-Of-Hate group.Just pointing out that there’s some dogmatic stupidity going on there that He might be none too pleased with.If only He would turn a few of these fools to pillars of salt again, the rest might get a clue.

  • Denswei

    Wow.Colorododog has bad business experiences with Christians flashing religious symbols (“Years ago in Colorado Springs, a little fish on a car bumper or a business card was an indicator in my business of a higher risk of someone not paying on time or trying later to receive more than was contracted for.”)and then dricha8548 immediately sarcastically accuses him of Christian bashing. Dricha8548, do you really mean to say that colorododog was mistaken about self-proclaimed christians being late with payments & bending the terms of contracts? Are you really claiming that anyone who flashes religious symbols are all sincere? How is a man-off-the-street claiming to be pious any different than a salesman claiming to be honest? “By their fruits, you shall know them” Mathew 7:16

  • joe_allen_doty

    Those license plates are merely vanity plates.Taking scriptures completely out of their context is misuse of the scriptures.Jesus wept when his close friend, Lazarus, had died. The “praying in secret” recommended by Jesus was made when a hypocritical Pharisee was observed standing on where people could see him and praying loudly, actually boastind about himself, hoping everyone was listening. Jesus never said, “Don’t pray in a public place.” But, those who want prayers spoken aloud in schools and at sporting events want those prayers to be worded so the hearers will repent of unconfessed sins in their lives. They don’t want a real prayer, just an opportunity to preach to a captive audience in a public place. My mother’s widowed father was a hypocrite and instead of talking to individual family members about the message of salvation, he would wait until asked to say grace before a holiday meal with the family gathered at his house. He “preached” instead of praying. But, he often left the place not too long after the meal because he had to go to his ladyfriends house and be with her. He didn’t really have high moral standards which he tried to hide from the family.

  • Bill1776

    According to the Judge that ruled “I Believe” on the license plates is unconstitutional. Our National Anthem by Francis Scott Key would be unconstitutional because it has “In this be out motto in God is out trust in the fourth verse. Our Liberty Bell would we unconstitutional because it has engraved on it “Proclaiming liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof. Lev 23: 10. Prayer that was started by Ben Franklin in congress with a paid Christian federal chaplain would be unconstitutional and prayer that the U.S. Supreme Court begins with would be unconstitutional. The approval of the Capitol for Christian church services that was given by both the House and the Senate, with House approval being given by Speaker of the House, Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, and Senate approval being given by the President of the Senate, Thomas Jefferson and the church services held there would be unconstitutional. Even our Declaration of Independents would be unconstitutional because it has God and refers to a Supreme Being in it. The ruling by the federal judge is with out merit it conveys a government sponsored message, hostility toward religion and is in violation of the Establishment Clause by prohibiting the free exercise of religion and the freedom of speech.

  • UsedtoBinDC

    It’s interesting to compare the Christian approach with Buddhism. When the Buddhists wanted to convert China to Buddhism, they sent their highest ranking member, Boddhiharma, to the court of the Chinese emperor. He simply sat down in the courtyard and started to meditate, which he kept up for NINE YEARS, without moving, as the story goes. Eventually, the emperor was moved by his determination and became a Buddhist himself and decreed that all China should become Buddhist. Compare this with the Christians who showed up several centuries later with gunships and compelled the Chinese to accept their missions or they would start shelling the cities. The bumper stickers are more of that “in your face” approach to spreading religion. Why don’t they just lead quietly by example and maybe people will follow?

  • trh123

    “The “praying in secret” recommended by Jesus was made when a hypocritical Pharisee was observed standing on where people could see him and praying loudly, actually boastind about himself, hoping everyone was listening.”The gospels are a little unclear on a lot, but not on Jesus’ condemnation of public displays of religiosity. He said right out to pray in a closet. Go thou and do likewise. I saw a bumper sticker in the 70s on the Eastern Shore: “Jesus is coming again, and boy is he gonna be p@ssed” Y’all been burning the wrong stuff in you lamps waiting for the Bridegroom.I also like the parable of the sheep and the goats, where both those welcomed in on judgement day, and those excluded were SURPRISED.

  • doom_of_cthulhu

    I think it’s a shame that the Romans didn’t do a better job of eradicating this stupid religion when they had the chance.

  • coloradodog

    May I suggest a special plate with the slogan””Imprison Pedophile Priests” ?I’m sure DMV czars would approve this one immediately.

  • coloradodog

    Or maybe “Conservative Christians” would prefer:CASTRATE A COMMUNIST FOR CHRISTor, to kill two birds with one stone:NUKE A GAY WHALE FOR JESUS

  • tojby_2000

    Joe-Allen-Doty wrote: Jesus never said, “Don’t pray in a public place.” __________________________________________6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:“Our Father in heaven,

  • katem1

    actually, coloradodog, it’s NUKE THE GAY ABORTED WHALES FOR JESUS. A cover-everything bumper sticker. probably offensive for some, but not as offensive as those who come into the secular bookstore that I work at and declare, “I’m a Chrisitan, where’s your Christianity section?” and then are outraged when we take them to our “Inspirational Section” which also has books from the Dalai Lama, First Nations animal spiritual books, books about crystals, colouring mandalas, and plenty from the likes of Rick Warren, and Joel Osteen(who is not a big seller here). Those who say Christianity is under attack are correct, but it is the enemy within, the intolerant and self rightous, and judgemental Christians who set themselves above their fellow human beings. Just like with Islam, it is the extreme fundementalists of Christianity that are the enemy within. anyone out there want to read an informative book about Christianity and Islam? I got my very accepting and inclusive evangelical pastor brother the book called “Oil and Water- Two faiths: One God” by Amir Hussain, and he loved it. one of my very favourite statements on the issue actually came from the character on NCIS called Ziva David, who told off a WV trooper who was taunting a Muslim in custody, with the remark ” when you insult his religion, you insult mine (Jewish)and your own. “. Am I the only person that has noticed that the three most violent religions in the world are all Abraham related? Mind you the Sikhs are kinda extreme too, but they aren’t as big as the others. PEACE be with all of you…

  • jessteshara

    I have a blog that happens to have a post listing religious bumper stickers:

  • ccnl1

    Are not sports-related T-shirts, bumper stickers, credit cards and vanity license plates a form of support for the new “religions” and their gods i.e. the teams of the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and NCAA??????

  • CarmanK

    These are children wearing t-shirts delivering a message of bigotry, not one of faith to other school children. It is the right of educators to secure a safe environment of all children in their care. And parents have a right to expect their children to be safe at school. “Islam is of the devil” is judgemental and inflammatory. If they wanted to say that “Jesus saves”, that is an expression of their faith, not a judgement upon others.

  • kjohnson3

    Many school districts in this country have an overall ban on message clothing. Seems like a reasonable way to ensure that all are treated fairly.

  • tojby_2000

    ccnl1 wrote: Are not sports-related T-shirts, bumper stickers, credit cards and vanity license plates a form of support for the new “religions” and their gods i.e. the teams of the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and NCAA?????? No.

  • ccnl1

    For many, religious fervor of old has been replaced by the religious fervor for the deities of sports e.g. Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning and Albert Pujols. Some synonyms for “religious”:devoted, unswerving, meticulous.And what do most Christians do on Sundays?? Watch religious services conducted by Christian priests and ministers or watch their favorite NFL team or NASCAR driver???

  • Paganplace

    It’s easy as pie to stick a Christian sticker on your vehicle, as many do. The only thing at stake in terms of having the *state* do this, are two things:1) Territory-marking for religious authorities in government, and2) A way to go on record as an Evangelical. If it’s on record at the DMV, anyone in the process, from clerks to temps to janitors, …to cops… who happens to be particularly devoted to the majority religion can show favoritism, and if a minority religion likewise goes on record, to be ‘equal’ in this way, this marks us for any given clerk or cop who feels righteous about giving ‘nonbelievers’ a hard time. That’s the only difference. It’s not like it’s hard to show off your belief on a motor vehicle, without involving the machinery of government.