Is "Coexist" anti-Christian?

Last weekend, I was speaking with a neighbor and the subject of bumper stickers came up

She has a sticker that states,“Coexist” on it, with the letters shaped in the form of symbols from a number of the world’s religions.

My neighbor, who is a teacher, said she was at work when a coworker became very upset with her because of that bumper sticker.

The coworker, another woman, became quite upset and vocal about the message the sticker sent, and said she was a “Christian” and could not accept any challenges to her “true” belief, my neighbor said.

The coworker also said that only her Christian beliefs, which my neighbor said were Protestant of some sort, were the sole true beliefs and that she considered the bumper sticker an affront against them.

OK, as a Unitarian Universalist, I cannot wrap my mind around the coworkers thought processes on this subject.

But I was not alone, My neighbor said she was completely baffled by the outburst, and my neighbor is not Unitarian.

I could probably understand the coworker saying she didn’t agree with the bumper sticker based on her beliefs. But this woman became quite adamant and very emotional about it.

Surely not all Christians harbor such beliefs.

My own thoughts were this woman simply has gone off the deep end. What I would like to ask her is whether her faith is so fragile that she cannot weather any non-conforming views?

I was just wondering how others her might respond to the coworker.



Your co-worker is entitled to her view, and entitled to express it. She probably believes that there is no way to salvation except through confessing Jesus as your personal Saviour, and considers that those who adhere to other beliefs are doomed to eternal torment. Rather than ask her not to express these views, or establish a social convention in your workplace that makes this impossible, why not ask her about what is behind her belief? and then, if you wish, challenge it, or express your opposing view.

I think it was from a fear of Relativism.

I wonuldn’t have been offended by it, especially considering the things I’ve seen on other bumper stickers today. :shrug:

No Seeker, not all Christians harbor such beliefs. And I actually like those bumper stickers. But then I recognize we live in a world of faiths and believe we need to strive to live in peace with one another while on this earth. Peace.

It’s difficult to know how I would respond to the co-worker…If, as you say, this was an “outburst” - indicating anger etc. then there probably would be no way to respond in a disarming manner…At least none that I can think of off hand.

The one thing that comes to mind is that this person carries an attitude that is akin to the person who saws off the branch that they are sitting on.

The idea of “Coexist” is enshrined in the constitution.of the United States. I wonder if this person feels that this should be removed? hhmmmm :hmmm:

The other thing that comes to mind would require an opportunity to talk with the person at some length which, it seems, was not possible under the circumstances.
But this other thing is the fact that the Central Law of Christianity is Love. Love of God and Love of neighbor. We seek to convert others through Love and not through force.
We need to “coexist” even as we seek to evangelize.
Additionally, we need to see in these other faiths where God has touched them, for God is Love and where Love resides - so resides God.
We must not seek the “destruction” of other faiths, but rather we seek that they simply “die off” because everyone comes to God through Christ and in Love.


To answer the question posed in the title, possibly. I sense that the message is mainly directed at Christians in America. I think it likely the idea is we should coexist by not having any expressions of faith in public, by members of public institutions or at public gatherings and that we should accept relativism which is contrary to the Christian Faith. The message might also be directed to Muslims, but I dont sense that the typical person who has this sticker is as concerned with Islam. I think it is likely that the message is limited to Abrahamic religions that seek converts, by whatever means. Since Christianity is the major religion in America anyone pushing that message in America is targeting primarily Christians.

I’m not so sure about that. I would say the idea of coexist comes more from the Common Law. The constitution in some ways recognizes rights and theoretically prevents the government from infringing them. Regarding religion the notion of coexist was that anyone could practice their religion so long as that practice did not violate the law, which itself was in many ways rooted in Christian morality. But coexist never meant the government could ban Christian practice in public as it is taken to mean today.

The rewards of tolerance are treachery and betrayal.

Well, I would put it this way – the sentiment is good, we should get along with our neighbors as best we can. What I personally don’t like about the stickers is the implications of the message – it seems to negate the very IDEA of truth. If all religions are equal, then there is no reason to be Christian. Either we have a revelation and a Savior, or we don’t, there’s not much middle ground there. And I think it’s a false witness to make the impression that we as Christians see all religions as identical and interchangable.

Unfortunately, the message behind those bumper stickers is actually a very relativistic “all religions are equal” one, and that is most likely what your co-worker was objecting to.

I saw that bumper sticker on car – together with another sticker that was one that one could say was offensive to Christians.

I left them a note on their windshield telling them that their bumper stickers were very contradictory…Why would they say in one that all ought to coexist and have another that would be offensive to one of the groups.

(I personally though do not like the sticker anyhow…can indicate too a sort of relativism…)

  “The Humble, Meek, Merciful, Just, Pious and Devout Souls, are everywhere of one religion; and when Death has taken off the Mask, they will know one another, though the divers Liveries they wear here make them Strangers.”  William Penn

The implication doesn’t have to be to Christians or to anyone else who believes their faith is truth, that all religions are equal and there is no one truth. It instead can merely mean as your first sentence suggested. To strive to get along with our fellow neighbors… all of whom we believe btw were created by God.

Some of what you say here is likely true. Some - I’m not so sure of.
That said, and speaking strictly to the bumper sticker itself, I see nothing in it to indicate a “relativistic” attitude - nor do I see anything in it desiring no public expression of faith.
Perhaps these are the assumptions and conclusions one draws due to the general “type” of person who would likely display such a sticker.

In any event, since the foundational principle of Christianity is Love, we should respond to the sticker, and those who display it in a loving way.

I’m not so sure about that. I would say the idea of coexist comes more from the Common Law. The constitution in some ways recognizes rights and theoretically prevents the government from infringing them. Regarding religion the notion of coexist was that anyone could practice their religion so long as that practice did not violate the law, which itself was in many ways rooted in Christian morality. But coexist never meant the government could ban Christian practice in public as it is taken to mean today.

The struggle over religious practice in public is a thorny one. There are good points to be made from all sides. But that is an entirely different thread…


Isn’t the First Commandment, “I, the Lord, am your God. You shall not have other gods besides me.”?

Isn’t Christ the only way to salvation? “Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

Didn’t Christ command us, “Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you;”? (Mathew 28:19)

So your coworker is correct in that the “COEXIST” bumper sticker is an affront, ie. contradicts, Christianity.

Catholic often times seem to forget that the goal of ecumenism isn’t for Catholic to be like everyone else. The goal of ecumenism is to bring everyone into full communion with the Church. (John Paul II, “Ut Unum Sint” On commitment to Ecumenism Section 67)

Jesus also said, “Love your neighbor as yourself…”, so - While evangelizing is a Loving thing to do, so is “co-existing” in the sense that we need to respect the decision of others.

Jesus also said - “Let the dead bury the dead” and “If they will not hear you, leave and shake the dust from your feet…”
He did NOT say to be intolerant of others…to either kill those who don’t believe or to destroy the towns that do not accept him.

If we remember that love is at the core of who we are as Christians, we can better “co-exist” AND still evangelize through our example of Love.

Besides…Has anyone considered that part of the reason that someone felt the need to create such a bumper sticker was because of some very real unloving attitudes within the overall Christian community?


Can’t we love someone all the way to Hell?

Isn’t the road to Hell paved with good intentions?

Agree with the “outburst” I do not. But, I can certainly say I’m not baffled by it. Absolutists fill catholic, protestant, islamic, and jewish sanctuaries and societies. Some secular in a society are personally invested by fractures and rifts created by expanding the schims between any faith groups. Politicans sometimes even campaign with hollow heart on religious convictions which they do not manifest in their own lives.

Even here in CAF, documents like Nostra Aetate, Lumen Gentium, Unitatis Redintegratio, and Dignitatis Humanae all evoke on some of the emotions touched on in this simple bumper sticker.

I can tell you from expereience, conversion of any kind, even revelation, is unlikely to happne nor is the holy spirit present when our own pride and arrogance motivate us to sharply outwit another person in a parking lot or driveway over their theological embrace of brotherly love.

Nice sound bites…

The road to hell is paved with sin. It is wide and many travel it.

As for “Loving” someone to hell…the answer is no we cannot “Love” someone to hell. Not in the sense that our Love sends them there.
Love (Agape) builds up. Love draws Love and builds Love. God IS Love and the fundamental core of our faith and the actions our faith should engender is Love (Mt 22:36-40) (John 13:34-35).

However - There are those who, in their misguided attempts to evangelize, lose sight of the fundamental principle of Love. Instead, the push, the prod, they become intolerant, belligerent, they fail to listen and to see Christ in others. They THINK that they are working to bring people to Christ, but the result is the opposite.
Such people actually do damage to the kingdom.

Love your neighbor as yourself…
If you wish to be tolerated, then be tolerant.
If you wish to be listened to, then be willing to also listen
AND speak in ways that are respectful and filled with the Love of our Lord.


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