Atheist Bumper Stickers, Funny but not for my car

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Image by Napalm filled tires via Flickr

The question of whether to bedeck our bumpers or not to bedeck our bumpers with atheistic messages is one with no easy response. On the one hand, we feel entitled to express our religious views as openly and as frankly as many Christians do with their schools of proclamatory fish and their “No Christian Left Behind” attitude. On the other hand, we don’t necessarily want to scandalize the neighbors. In a sea of “One Nation under God” stickers, atheists often feel they have to choose between censure and silence.

For those who decide to make their rejection of faith public, deciding on the right bumper sticker can be a tricky matter. Is saying you’re “Proud to be an Atheist” enough? Is asking “In case of Rapture, can I have your car?” too much? Will a sticker that’s playfully irreverent be perceived as arrogant and antagonistic? Will a sticker that gives no quarter result in a keyed car door or a punctured tire? In the end, it might be better to endure the rapture stickers of theistic drivers in silence rather than to slap something equally offensive onto our own bare bumpers.

Unfortunately, when we drive in public, we have very little control over who sees our bumper sticker or what they think of its message. You never know if the next person to read it will be the pompous hypocrite you were hoping to provoke into rethinking his own vehicular verbalizations or the quiet Jewish kid from down the street. And given that most of us can ill afford to offend the people who live and work near us, discretion is usually advisable. After all, what will your boss think when he sees what your evolved Darwin fish is doing to his Christian ichthys?

An atheist friend of mine recently learned this lesson the hard way when a Christian coworker spotted his “Don’t pray in my school, and I won’t think in your church” sticker. When his attempts to evade the coworker’s car failed, he found himself apologizing afterwards for what surely must have been perceived as an insult. The fact that some Christians select stickers that effectively threaten non-believers with an afterlife spent in an eternal lake of fire in no way made him feel any better about matching their offensiveness with his own.

So while it may be tempting to counter indignity with contempt, a more rational and humanistic message, such as “Coexist,” might serve you better. After all, the negative reputation you earn from that single inflammatory message can stick around long after your bumper sticker has disappeared from the other driver’s field of vision or has been removed from your car.

If, in spite of what any sense of decorum might tell you, you decide to bedeck your bumper with the most controversial statement you can find, be prepared for disapproving gestures and accusations to come your way. You may be ready to argue it out with an equally opinionated theist driver, but it takes a certain brand of jerk to keep from flinching when the blue-haired granny in your rear view mirror shakes her head in dismay.

7 thoughts on “Atheist Bumper Stickers, Funny but not for my car

  1. Erin

    I don’t know. When I was in high school I had an evolved Darwin fish on my car. The vast majority of the people I knew had no idea what it meant. A lot of people who did get it ended up becoming my friends partly because of it. I went to a catholic school and so it sort of brought me like minded friends and friends that were of religions other than catholic. It was cool but I didn’t think much of it at the time.
    As I got a little older, I started to shy away from making statements like that. My uncle had a Pro-Choice bumper sticker on his truck and I remember commenting that it was like asking for a brick through his windshield. I gave him a lot of credit for it, but it was not something that I’d put on my car.
    Now I’m still older and I’ve changed my thinking again. I really don’t see what’s wrong with “Proud to be an Atheist”. And I don’t think half the people out there would understand “In case of Rapture, can I have your car?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to explain what the rapture is about.
    What changed was that at work a coworker would always forward me these junk email messages about prayers, praying, what would Jesus do, etc. I just ignored and deleted them. Then last year she started forwarding political ones. I ignored and deleted the first few and then I got one comparing Obama to the Anti-Christ. I think I’d just had enough of it and I confronted her about it. I asked her to please not send me anymore of this junk and went on to explain to her that I’m a liberal, feminist, atheist and that these emails are highly offensive to me. She was in shock and apologized profusely and it was obvious that she really felt bad about it. She apparently really thought that everyone was on the same page as her.
    Now I’m totally for slapping a bumper sticker on your car because it’s a really simple way to remind people that there are other ways of thinking out there. If it makes someone who can’t respect my beliefs hate me, I probably wasn’t ever going to be friends with them anyways.
    On a different topic, I can’t remember how old you mentioned that your kids were, but I have a book recommendation: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. I guess it’s about 7th or 8th grade level (I’m not sure). It’s set in Texas in 1899 and about an 11 year old girl who becomes a naturalist. I don’t have kids but I enjoyed reading it myself.

  2. KerriLea73

    I never thought being an agnostic was really a part of my identity until I began to homeschool my son. I quickly learned that being a non believer made you an outcast in our local homeschool community. I was told by another non believer homeschooling parent to “fake it”. Hey, I refuse to live in any closet. For the first time in my life I feel my beliefs- or really my lack of them, are important to declare. In doing so I’ve found other like minded families and we’ve banners together against a pretty hostile Christian army. There are probably other non believer homeschoolers out in my community feeling isolated and alone. Some are hiding, some are faking it- so I display my Agnostic Homeschooler bumpersticker proudly. No Jesus Freak, Darwin hating homeschool clique is going to push me into a closet.

  3. Eupraxsophy

    I know exactly how you feel. On one hand I would love to tell everyone how I feel about their god(s), and yet I would be violating one of my moral values which is respecting others. But it is tempting.

    If you decide to put a bumper sticker on your car it should be something that’s going to make one think first rather than just see it and be offended. I like ones that say “Real men don’t have imaginary friends”, or I believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa, and honest Republicans”, but not enough to get a flat tire out of.
    I use to have “Jesus loves you everyone else thinks your an ass-hole” on my car, but now that I’m married and my wife is a Christian I had to explain to her that it could also mean that even though everyone thinks your an ass-hole, Jesus stills loves you. Even though she bought it I have since sold the car with that bumper sticker and a couple of Tool bumper stickers on it, I’ve decided that I’m going to be more selective in a bumper sticker from now on.

    It’s unfortunate that agnostics and atheists are the minority, but until people start to think for themselves and learn that you can’t respect yourself if you disrespect others, it’s going to be a long wait.

    Humility has tought me to be wise and to show to others that you don’t need any god to be a good person. I’ve learn to base my beliefs on truth rather than to base my truths on belief. To be objective as opposed to being doubtful. To see the beauty in that which is superfictially ugly, and see the ugly in that which is superfictially beautiful.

    If Obama has done anything right it was to uplift the ban on seeing our fallen soldiers on their final return home. I believe we as a nation should see their sacrifice and to humbily know that freedom does have a price and that war should never be pretty, convienant, or for profit.

    The destination of wisdom and enlightenment is traveled down the path of humility. If thy have a boastful tongue let it be that which rest upon thy head the Crown of Truth.

  4. Shannon

    “In case of Rapture, can I have your car?” Wow, that is freaking hilarious! Glad I found your blog, will be reading back through your posts this evening.

  5. Kathy Post author

    argh- “critical thinking” I should blog about THAT. We had a heck of a time trying to find homeschooling materials for critical thinking / logic at a middle school level. I kid you not, I rejected more than TEN because in the introduction, they stated that the Bible was the word of God. Ice is cold, water is wet, birds fly and the bible is the word of God. Any logical argument, they believed, could be solved with their bible. Wow- don’t you wish life really WAS that simple. How can they be so blind?

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