UK

Rev Alice Goodman Defends 'What The F*ck Would Jesus Do?' Bumper Sticker

08/08/2013 14:43 BST | Updated 08/10/2013 10:12 BST

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A female vicar who received complaints about her ‘What The F*ck Would Jesus Do’ bumper sticker has said her detractors should “get a life”.

The Rev Alice Goodman has been driving around with WTFWJD – a play on the Christian motto ‘What would Jesus do?’ - on the back of her red Subaru Legacy for seven years, and has even given former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams a lift in it.

But the sign has offended some of the worshippers in the Fulbourn and Wilbrahams parish in Cambridgeshire, where Dr Goodman is the rector.

alice goodman vicar bumper sticker

The bumper sticker was the Rev Alice Goodman's car when she bought it seven years ago

Yet the American-born vicar insists the sticker is not sinful or obscene, and that it simply “urges people to wake up and take notice.”

She explained: "The Gospel that I'm preparing to teach on this week is the one where Jesus says he comes not to bring peace but the sword.

"I've never had a complaint about it before. I would suggest that anyone who thinks it is inappropriate should get out a little more.

"If you watch the latest BBC series about the chuch, called Rev, you can hear that particular word at least six times in a programme.

"But the thing I would really want to talk about is the really important distinction to be made with taking the name of the Lord in vain and the common vulgarities.

alice goodman vicar bumper sticker

Rev Goodman says her detractors should 'get a life'

"I wouldn't use language like that in church. But that's why I have it on the back of my car - it's a different context.

"And I would say also that Christ came to save us and not to make us genteel.

"People have a lot of time on their hands right now. I think somebody must have had a lot of energy, animous and busybody-like qualities to photograph this.

"You want to say 'for heaven's sake - get a life."

Rev Goodman is a former chaplain at Trinity College, Cambridge and married to renowned poet Sir Geoffrey Hill, currently a professor of poetry at the University of Oxford.

She added: "Fuck is not a blasphemy, it's a vulgarity, an Old English word.

"Whoever saw this on my car perhaps did not notice that there are two other stickers on there, one either side of it.

"One is a Hebrew text about the transformation of the world, and the other from the sixth chapter of Micah, which says 'Do Justice, love kindness, walk humbly with God.'

alice goodman vicar bumper sticker

Rev Goodman is a rector at the Fulbourn and Wilbrahams parish in Cambridgeshire

"My bishop knows I have the sticker on my car, and has no difficulty with it, and I've had the former Archbishop of Canterbury in my car, Rowan Williams, and he didn’t raise an eyebrow."

The Venerable John Beer, Archdeacon of Cambridge, said he saw no problem with the sticker.

He said: "It sounds like the Rev Alice Goodman has responded in all good conscience to the criticism of this anonymous reader.

"Perhaps a way forward may be for the vicar and the reader to meet together to discuss it further.

"Christianity has a long tradition of open debate where people can bring their differing views and share their perspectives."

Rev Goodman sparked controversy in the US in 1991 when she wrote an opera about the murder of a disabled Jewish man by Palestinian terrorists.