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I am starting to see a proliferation of bumper sticker that calls for all of us to “CO-EXIST.” Often they are on cars with a Bernie Sanders bumper sticker, but you can also find them on other cars as well.

The primary message of the bumper sticker is to the religious communities. On the “CO-EXIST” bumper sticker, the letters are formed primarily by various religions. For example, the “C” is the Muslim crescent. The “O” is the peace sign. The “X” is the Star of David. The “I” has a yin/yang symbol over the letter to symbolize eastern religions. Finally, the “T” is the Christian cross. So really the bumper sticker is a call for all the various religions and worldviews to get along.

There’s just one problem. The first of those letters (the Muslim crescent) represents a religious group that generally has a problem with co-existence. Of course millions of Muslims have made their peace with the modern world, which includes technology, equality, pluralism, tolerance, and civility. But a very large portion of the Muslim world is directly opposed to such ideas. In fact, in many places around the world, Muslims are literally at war against coexistence.

The other religions and philosophies usually have been willing to coexist in democratic societies. The major outlier has been Islam. In fact, if you were to take the Muslim crescent off the bumper sticker, you wouldn’t even need the bumper sticker.

The late Samuel Huntington wrote about this in his book, The Clash of Civilizations. There is an inevitable conflict between Western universalism and Muslim militancy. We can promote pluralism and civility to the Western world, but often we are preaching to the wrong crowd. It is the Muslim world that has a problem with these concepts.

Coexistence is a great idea, but let’s be realistic enough to understand which religion is most likely to resist it.

Viewpoints by Kerby Anderson

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