Monday, September 29, 2008

Poking a Stick

I like wearing t-shirts that make people think a bit. Not offend, necessarily, but prod gently. This last weekend, I wore this one as we went shopping:

I was at Border's and a man came up to me and asked about the shirt. He seemed genuinely surprised that Lincoln would have ever said such a thing. He looked confused and seemed to shadow me around the store the whole time I was there. I wasn't sure if he wanted to roll me or was working up his courage to present a clever response. As we carried on shopping at other places, I got several more stares, but no additional comments.

Of all the shirts with provocative statements that I wear, it's odd that this is the one that I get the most looks and comments from. It seems one's religion is the thing that most people are most touchy about. And to intimate that our country's leaders and founders were anything but Christians is apparently heresy.

It may offend some, but why does it offend them? And if so, do they think about how "In God We Trust", "One Nation Under God", or "God Bless America" offend others?

Some people comfortably live in the illusion that this is a Christian nation and that it was founded upon Christian principles. When contradictory data comes up that disputes that, it shakes their foundation. An open-minded person might read further and maybe try to learn about other viewpoints. Others do the exact opposite. They build walls around their intellect and deny anything that disputes their own views - classic "cognitive dissonance".

I'm not trying to make people believe as I do. I'm merely trying to poke a stick at them in their heavenly lofts. They need to be given just a little taste of what it is like to be a non-Christian in a world that shoves God down our throats. When they get a little perspective, perhaps they will be more tolerant.

It doesn't bother me that people might stare or come up to me and engage me in a discussion about the shirt. That's why I wear it. I think if more people talked about these issues, we'd be better off.

For a bit more about religion in our society, check out Laura's interesting discussion on the tax-exempt status of Churches:

Tear down the wall ..."

"The supreme satisfaction is to be able to despise one's neighbor and this fact goes far to account for religious intolerance. It is evidently consoling to reflect that the people next door are headed for hell." -- Aleister Crowley quotes (English poet, author, philosopher, 1875-1947)


CyberKitten said...

Wow.... That's pretty brave of you [grin]

Over here I get most of my 'funny' looks when I wear my Simpsons or Family Guy T-shirts in work... [laughs] but then again big companies tend not to have much of a sense of humour.

*Love* the cartoon!

Laura said...

I don't get it either. Except that maybe, due to the way most major religions are constructed, if someone else could be right, that means YOU could be wrong. For some people, that means their entire world view, Fred Flintstone riding dinosaurs and all, comes crashing down. To question religion means accepting that we can never know the truth, and entertaining the possibility that religion is entirely a man-made system of social control.

dbackdad said...

CK -- Actually, I consider myself kinda cowardly on engaging people in causes I believe in. It's easier for me to wear a t-shirt that says what I believe than to risk rejection by going straight up to them and talking. If they respond to my shirt, then they are really starting the conversation and it takes some of the pressure off me.

Laura -- Speaking of Flinstone riding dinosaurs, I like Matt Damon's line from a view days ago about Palin - "I need to know if she really think that dinosaurs were here 4,000 years ago. I want to know that, I really do. Because she's gonna have the nuclear codes."