Editor's note: Lance Burri has been abducted by his wife and children, who are holding him in an unknown location and demanding a "vacation" in return for his release. Until such time as Lance has made good on their demands, we will continue to publish from the Best of Lance Burri Collection.
The following column first ran on August 6, 2004.
I love bumper stickers. In fact, if you ever look in your rear view, and see me right on your tail, odds are I’m trying to read whatever you’ve got stuck to the back of your car.
That’s the only reason I ever tailgate, I swear.
Political bumper stickers, I find especially fascinating. Working in Madison, you can guess what that means.
One car I frequently see has two stickers: one says “I’m pro-choice, and I vote!” The other says “The death penalty is dead wrong.”
I’ve spent many a walk into the office contemplating the mind that agrees with both those statements.
Another favorite, on a car I see now and then: “Capitalism = Problems; Socialism = Solutions.”
The driver is some young guy. What do you want to bet his parents are paying his way through college?
While some make me roll my eyes, and some make me think, a bumper sticker will rarely make me angry.
One did, though, just the other day.
The car was parked near Memorial Union (my daughter was in the office with me that day, so we went for an ice-cream walk). Amid a number of Kerry for President stickers was one that read “What Would Jesus Bomb?”
Okay, I get the reference to the “What Would Jesus Do” thing, but, really, is this meant to be a serious question?
It reminded me of yet another bumper sticker: “We are the rogue state.” That one’s an eye-roller, trying to equate the U.S. with nations like Iraq, Libya, Sudan. It’s ironic, though I know it’s not meant to be: like accusing the U.S. of censorship.
But this one, “What Would Jesus Bomb?” This one seems to equate Christianity with that radical wing of Islam with which we’re at war – the wing that sends its children to blow themselves up, kills stewardesses with box cutters and flies airplanes into American skyscrapers.
What does it mean? That Christian opposition to abortion and gay marriage (issues on which Christians are hardly united, I might add) are the same thing as suicide bombings?
Or is the car’s owner suggesting that the U.S., an arguably Christian nation, is bombing indiscriminately, just like the radical Islamicists are?
When was the last time this person was in a church, I wondered? How many actual Christians does he know?
None, I bet. I could introduce him to a few, like the manager of my softball team, who always votes Democrat, and who puts me to shame with the amount of time he spends working in our church. Or to my coworker, who took a second job so she could afford to go on a missionary trip to Guatemala, where she volunteered at an orphanage.
That was my reaction: angry, that this person so ignorantly lumps the kindest people I know in with mass murderers.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised, I thought, to find that sort of anti-Christian bigotry on one of the most liberal campuses in the country.
But on further reflection, I came to a different conclusion. A wonderfully ironic conclusion.
Who Would Jesus Bomb?
Obligatory nod here toward the Crusades and the Inquisition, and other such tragedies staged in the name of Christianity before most people could read the Bible for themselves. Also acknowledged that, with 2 billion Christians in the world, there are going to be a few nutcases who think it’s okay to murder abortion doctors.
Okay, Christians aren’t perfect. Newsflash: that’s why we need Jesus. The U.S. isn’t perfect, either.
I’m no theologian. I hope that Islam really is a religion of peace, and that these terrorists really are warping its real message, just as those who led the Crusades and the Inquisition warped Christianity’s.
But the fact is, it’s a widespread wing of radical Islamicists who are pursuing worldwide terrorism – not Christians, not Jews, not Hindus, not atheists, not Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Radical Islamicists conspire to kill, and sometimes succeed in killing, indiscriminately. Radical Islam imprisons and kills homosexuals, forbids women from being educated, and teaches children that the murder of non-Muslims is a sure path to Heaven.
Meantime, what are Christians doing?
Show me the analogy between radical Islam and Christianity – not the occasional aberration, but the widespread norm. Show me the analogy between the nations ruled by radical Islam and the U.S.
That bumper sticker attempts to make just such a comparison. I’m sure its owner intends for us to see the similarities. Instead, he succeeds in pointing out the differences.