Bumper Sticker Politics
Bumper stickers are a form of advertising, sometimes a form of humor and at the very least a driving distraction. In the bicentennial year, I drove my sister, a retired missionary nurse, and several small children she cared for, into downtown Philadelphia. I had promised a grand tour of Independence Hall, the Betsy Ross House, and as much of the historical schmear as their little legs would tolerate. While nearing Boat House Row on East River Drive, the six year old sitting in the front seat between my sister and myself, began phonetically sounding out the message of the bumper sticker on the car in front of us.
Ah-ahh-ahhe- eye, fow-foww- fowwownd, it. “I found it,” she proudly exclaimed. “What does that mean Aunt June?”
“It means that they found Jesus.”
Indeed, there was a religious campaign at the time using the phrase “I Found It” in a smug attempt to imply the bumper sticker owner knew something the viewer didn’t. The child next to me, with a sad voice and a tone of great gravity, said, “I didn’t know He was lost.”
I almost ended up in the river trying to contain my laughter.
Not long ago, in the gas guzzler days when Hummers and large SUVs were popular, bumper stickers began appearing sponsored by green groups asking, “What car would Jesus drive?” It’s a humorous and somewhat provocative question since there were no cars in Jesus’ time. I suppose the only correct answer would be, “He’d drive a donkey.” That, and sandal leather, are the only means of transportation recorded in the Bible. Thankfully, the gas guzzlers are finally yielding to more fuel efficient and eco-friendy vehicles. I think of that bumper sticker now, however, when I view some of the current political ads. I’m waiting for the bumper sticker that asks, “Which candidate would Jesus vote for?” It’s a valid question, but the party attempting to co-opt Jesus into their advertising campaign will get hit from all sides.
It amazes me every time I read the results of an updated Pew survey on religion and life in America to find the high percentage of respondents, well over 70%, who say they attend church regularly, pray regularly, and for whom religion plays a central role in their life. Without question, the United States is the most religious country in the western hemisphere, the most Judeo/Christian in the world. And were Jesus to return to earth, as many of His followers believe He will, and if it happened to be during the election season, He’d shake his head in disbelief at the misinformation and lying promulgated as fact by candidates and campaigns.
I suspect He’d not want to be cast as a Republican or a Democrat, but would choose to remain Independent, or unaffiliated, much as He did during his recorded life. He was always an outsider who preferred not being part of the religious establishment. His evaluation of a candidate would hinge, not on party affiliation, nor on the college they went to, the size of their bank account or previous offices held, but rather upon what the candidates stood for. Which of the candidates support the issues He preached about and cared about during his ministry.
Those issues are easy to discover for anyone who reads his bio. His message was simple. Feed the hungry, heal the sick, clothe the naked, seek peace. Having thrown the money changers out of the temple in his younger days, Jesus might have a dim view of the one percent crowd today. Perhaps, surprising to current day politicos who stir their money pot by fanning the flames of intolerance and bigotry on issues like abortion and gay marriage, during his ministry, Jesus never referred to either of these so called social issues.
I don’t pretend to know how Jesus would vote, but I do know the issues that were important to Him during his lifetime. And the issues He sought to address 2000 years ago in ancient Palestine are still with us. We still have fellow citizens who are hungry, homeless, sick, and condemned to poverty by lack of education and opportunity. If His teachings are important to anyone entering the voting booth, they should take a moment and ponder, “Who would Jesus vote for?”
John Siegfried, a former Rehoboth resident, lives in Ft. Lauderdale. He is the author of Gray & Gay, A Journey of Self-acceptance. Email John Siegfried