Jesus Fish and Religious Tolerance

Suppose you had an employee who put a magentic Jesus fish on the outside or his or her locker at work. You know, one of these:

Now let’s say that another employee saw the Jesus fish and responded with their own magnetic fish on the outside of their locker. But theirs looked like this:


Or even this (which is my personal favorite):

Let’s skip the “HR is not the religion police and we should let these adult employees work out their issues” discussion. Because my concern is not about figuring out how to monitor any differences these employees may have. My concern is this: are the gefilte and Darwin fish a symbol of religious intolerance that needs HR intervention?

This is a relevant question even in the world at large, if you think about it for a minute. After all, would you tolerate someone who mocked a Muslim for wearing traditional clothing? Or would you make fun of a person wearing a piece of crucifix or cross jewelry? These are basic outward symbols of a person’s religious beliefs, and HR would likely not tolerate an employee who made fun of them or the employee that embraced them. Nor should you tolerate it from anyone in the world at large.

But is a gefilte fish or a Darwin fish an outward mocking of the Christian religion? I never thought of them as mocking Christianity, but as alternative expressions of faith. Or, in my case as an atheist, as an expression of a lack of religious faith. There aren’t many ways to publicly proclaim that you are an atheist, after all.

But maybe I’m wrong. A recent discussion among Facebook friends over whether a T-shirt that poked a little fun at polygamy was mocking the Mormon religion made me think of Jesus fish. If a T-shirt that gently chides polygamy is intolerant of Mormons – at least in some people’s opinion –  what does that say about a gefilte or Darwin fish? They are pretty clearly at least a parody of Jesus fish, the symbol which has existed for centuries.

But some people do believe that they are mocking examples of religious intolerance. If you read the link  you may wonder, as I did,  if the Jewish blog writer truly believed in the mocking nature of the Darwin fish, or just didn’t like that it is against creationism, which is also anti-Judaism.

I have never thought that any of the many fish parodies were intolerant, but maybe I need to change my tune.

I’ve always felt myself to be tolerant of religion, even though I am not a believer. I don’t belittle Facebook friends who ask me to pray for their loved ones. I just send good wishes and thoughts and skip the prayer language. I don’t refuse to enter churches or synagogs. Many are historical marvels and I love to look at them. Just don’t ask me to pray in one.

What do you think? Are people who use non-Christian fish magnets mocking the Christian believer, or are they merely promoting their own beliefs?