Coexist is Really Cobelieve

bebraveIt was one of “those” moments back in 2005 when Bono of U2 put on that headwrap with the word “Coexist” using three icons from the three major world religions. It was an obvious coexiststatement that Bono the man would make. It has since been tweaked and changed to add as many religions and belief systems—like the peace sign (what?)—to make the effect of “Coexist” even cooler.

Apparently an American company with trademark rights to the image sued web sites and companies who began using it without permission. The Israeli museum that first commissioned the image has claimed and is trying protecting their copyright, and the Polish designer who created the image in 2001 says he’s being left out. Many other people have tweaked it to make it “theirs” for their own goals. All of this over a clever way of saying that we should all be getting along.

Whomever ended up with the actual trademark rights is making a lot of money because this “brand” is on lots and lots of car bumpers.

Something has changed in the message from 2005, or even from the message in 2001 when the Polish designer said he created it. That was right after 9/11. We Americans were generally terrified of Muslims because we had witnessed terror with our own eyes on our own land. Yet the reality was that a sect of Muslims was responsible. It is similar if Americans (or the world) thought the beliefs of Westboro Baptist were representative of all Christian beliefs. That just is not true. So to be encouraged to coexist with other religions was a message of love. We can coexist with Muslim and Jewish neighbors. Sales clerks and bank tellers and DMV workers who have a different religion are our neighbors we can coexist with. It’s not that hard. It’s based on love and respect for all human beings. This is what is taught by Jesus—as well as taught in kindergarten.

However, time has caused this simple message to be skewed. Of course. Now those bumper car sticker people want us to cobelieve. This is more than existing. It is believing that all of these world religions believe in the same things at the core. And that is not true. Not from any religion’s viewpoint.

I can coexist with my neighbor no matter what religion he/she believes. This is coexisting. Norwegian Muslims will form a human shield around an Oslo synagogue.

But cobelieving? That is an entirely different thing. And it simply doesn’t make for a good bumper sticker.

I ask for your respect of me as I coexist understanding that I believe in Jesus. We can all do this.

Be brave.

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About Be Brave

Brenda Seefeldt began life in youth ministry in 1981. That is before the internet, YouTube, texting and even before PowerPoint. (But it was after flannel boards.) Brenda has written and shared much of what she has learned through the resource of Wild Frontier and in many youth ministry publications as she continues on in youth ministry. Brenda is a brave one. She stutters yet is a national speaker. She loves teaching so much she’s also been a substitute teacher for over 20 years. She’s brave enough to enter any classroom at a middle school. She also simply loves teaching groups, whether they are teens or adults. Due to the many years of youth ministry, Brenda has “coached” many grown teens in dating. She finds herself very opinionated on that with lots to share. Brenda loves her God-given family–four sons and 4 grandchildren. They are God-given, not birthed. That alone is a brave story, one she tells here and there as the story really belongs to her sons.

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