We the undersigned are members of, or inspired by, millennia-old monotheistic faiths originating in the Middle East. We believe in a transcedent God who created the universe but who human beings are able to relate to by means of ethical action. In the words of one our prophets, Micah, this God wants us to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Thy God. Construed broadly enough, following the teaching of Spinoza, those committed to social progress and scientific rationalism are members of the monotheistic family, although in a radically anti-iconic form. Within the family of monotheistic faiths there are certainly disagreements — some rationalists are atheists, Muslims[ are unhappy with the Christian belief that God has a body, Christians who prefer to emphasize mercy over law – yet these all amount to family quarrels. In fact we believe all human vs. human violence amounts to family quarrels because we believe the ultimate source of everything can be imagined as a parent to all human beings. God is not really a parent, but that is a handy short-hand for how humans can relate to It.
We hereby promise not to be offended if you depict our God as fat, ugly, uncool, masturbating, defecating or having sex with a walrus. This is because God does not have a human body. Therefore if you drew a cartoon of a man with a long white beard shooting lightning out of his hands having sex with a walrus you would not have successfully drawn a picture of God having sex with a walrus, since God is infinite and has no forms. It might even be more dangerous to draw a picture of God doing something great – say helping your country or football team win – because that would be more likely to cause the dangerous mistake of idolatry – confusing the transcendent God with particular human power struggles. If you drew a picture of God playing a video game and ignoring Hiroshima or the Holocaust we would say you are raising an important point about the problem of evil.
We promise not to take offense if you depict any of our prophets as fat, ugly, uncool, defecating, masturbating or having homosexual or heterosexual sex. We do not know how our prophets looked, and have precious little knowledge of their sexual behavior. It is certain that they all defecated. As I mentioned we believe the prophet Micah stated that all God requires of us is “do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God”. We respect the prophets because of what they and the ethical behavior it inspired. If your cartoon depicting the prophet Micah having sex with Mickey Mouse causes people to swerve aside from a commitment to justice, mercy, and humility we would like to urge you to reconsider. For obvious reasons we will not urge you to consider by means of threat or legal action, as this does not show a commitment to justice or mercy or a humble acknowledgment of our own fallibility.
Many of us venerate heroes of the enlightenment – Thomas Jefferson, Voltaire, John Stuart Mill, James Madison. We are okay with cartoons depicting any or all of them performing oral sex on an elephant, being spanked by a dominatrix, or being defecated on by a gorilla. We feel their ideas are strong enough to be evaluated on their own merits.
According to some readings of Christianity and the Zohar the bodies of the most vulnerable are an image of God. As luck would have it they have already been raped, murdered, and degrade in real life so we do not need depictions by satirical cartoonists of the degradation of the vulnerable as such images are available in history books, newspapers and the internet. However if satirists provide further images of the degradation of the human, it’s hard to see how that would really make things much worse.
We invite all members of monotheistic faiths to sign on to this statement.