Posted by: martinworster | June 21, 2012

142. PROPERTY OF NO ONE / JESUS / ALLAH / SHIVA / YAWEH / BUDDHA / ODIN / ZEUS

I get irritated when people wear slogan t-shirts. I get really irritated when people wear religious slogan t-shirts. On numerous occasions at my son’s school I keep seeing one guy who it seems each day wears a different Christianity t-shirt. One day it advertised the ‘Christian Surfers’ group. Another day he had on a t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan ‘Property of Jesus’. Hmmmm.

Now of course, everyone is allowed to believe in what or who they like. But I think there’s a boundary between having your beliefs and practicing them in tolerance to other people without ramming it down their throats. I know, wearing that sort of t-shirt is hardly ‘ramming it down other people’s throats’ – but I find something distasteful, annoying and insensitive about it. I don’t know why you have to publicly advertise your religion like this. It seems a bit cheap to brazenly publish beliefs on clothing like it was some commercial advertising slogan. What if a Muslim parent turned up at school with a t-shirt that said ‘Property of Allah‘ or ‘Islamic Surfers‘? I don’t think it would go down very well.

Similarly, I am an atheist, but I wouldn’t dream – heavens above – of wearing any t shirts advertising my thought system. Slogans like ‘Godless’, ‘Born Again Atheist’, ‘Straight To Hell’ and ‘There’s no Prophet in Atheism‘ would probably work. Or wouldn’t if I wore them on a t-shirt.  Atheists are such a misunderstood minority in the US that it would also go down very badly at the school. But I don’t feel the need to advertise what – I imagine – is probably my difference from most of the other parents. I have respect for other people’s belief systems without feeling the need to shout about my own. If I wore these sort of t-shirts I believe people would feel uncomfortable and threatened and I wouldn’t really want that. Humans like to organize themselves in groups – the safety in numbers principle. Conformism provides a psychological comfort and in these sort of American communities anyone or thing who veers from the norm (the flock) would be feared and mistrusted.

I particularly find the whole ‘Christian Surfers’ group a bit strange. Surely one of the best things about surfing is the opportunity it allows to meet people from different backgrounds, cultures and religions? Surely the common interest you share is surfing? By identifying yourself as an exclusively Christian Surfer group you are really only creating barriers to people who are not of the same belief? Surely the positive thing would be to just surf with other surfers whoever they are and have your mind opened in the process?

On another rant, but in a similar vein, I also used to get irritated by the constant adverts on CNN for the online dating business Christian Mingle. The strapline for this is ‘Find Gods match for you‘. I don’t think they’ve really thought this through. The statement is logically flawed. If the perfect love match you found was always pre-ordained by an omniscient God, why would you need to resort to a tacky dating website to find it?  Surely the pairing with the love of your life would happen as it was always pre-planned by God? Destiny is written in the stars, as it were – http://www.christianmingle.com would surely be out of the picture? There’s a whole world of different colours and sizes out there – so get out there and surf / date with people from all sexes, nationalities, religions, non-religions, shapes and sizes and promote some much needed cross cultural understanding and tolerance on this increasingly small planet.

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