“Life Is Wasted Without Jesus”

Posted: May 7, 2012 in Current Events, Religion

Once again we see a fundamentally different culture between the way the U.S. and Canada behave towards a potential problem.

Last week a 19 year old Grade 12 student (?!) was suspended for wearing a t-shirt to school which stated “Life is wasted without Jesus.”  The argument was twofold.  The first was that the school had repeatedly asked to boy to refrain from wearing the shirt and he repeatedly flaunted it.  One might surmise that there was a measure of pontificating that went along with the t-shirt which might have complicated the issue further.  The second was the argument that while saying “Jesus Enriches My Life” is a positive and acceptable slogan, once you say something like “Life is wasted without Jesus”, there is a connotation of discrimination against other religions and beliefs.

I agree with this, although I think that the statement is carefully chosen to be close to the line of offense.  It’s not “If you don’t believe in Jesus, you’re going to burn in hell!”, although it clearly suggests that in an indirect way.

I guess there are two ways that the matter could be dealt with. One would be to prohibit the wearing of the slogan, which is how the school originally chose to cope.  The other side of the argument is to recognize the ambiguity of the situation and let freedom of speech dictate the outcome.  Certainly one should be able to express one’s religious convictions, and as long as the slogan does not directly discriminate against other beliefs, it should be tolerated.  That’s the choice the school eventually made, backing off their original decision and allowing the boy to wear the t-shirt, but also holding some public and student meetings to promote the idea of multiculturalism.  Nicely done Canada.

However, I can’t help but stir the pot a little more by wondering what would happen if a student wore a t-shirt that expressed the opposite view.  How about students wearing a shirt that says “Life is not wasted without Jesus”,  or get rid of the double negative and say “Life is fulfilled without Jesus” or just change one word and have it state, “Life is wasted with Jesus”.  Do you really think that the Christian fundamentalist community would be as civilized about it as the school eventually was??  I think that the cries of discrimination and outrage would be loud and clear.  There would be, as always, a double standard with regards to freedom of speech.

Even so, in the States it would probably get you lynched in some areas.  While we do have some tensions and issues with fundamentalists in Canada, thankfully it usually plays out in a civil manner.

  1. chinedu chinedu says:

    you are setting a straw opponent. yes, some fundamentalists may not be happy, and can protest, but not to the extent of asking the boy to remove the shirt or get out of the school. There are many more serious outrageous things said against Jesus, and nobody raises harmful alarm.

  2. pwiinholt says:

    Well, if I’m setting up a straw opponent (and I don’t’ think I am), you’re presenting an unjustified speculation. I’m not sure if you’re talking about Canada or the U.S., but with regard for the latter, I’ve been in some fundamentalist communities where wearing any kind of anti-religiouis slogan would get you beaten up (of course with all of God’s love accompanying the beating). in Canada, as I said, thinks are more civil and it depends on the community. But I’ve been in a situation as a teacher where I’ve gotten complaints sent to the principal because I was using “Hansel and Gretel” as a dramatic tool. And trying to teach meditation, …forget it. When you take a look at the religious right, they tend to champion freedom, and especially religious freedom, only as long as it conforms to their views. And those more moderate fundamentalists who you mention, they tend not to want to speak up and judge their extremist cousins.

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