A Sign From God
June 4, 2007 11:15 AM   Subscribe

Slate's Doree Shafrir takes a look at the history of God's billboard, the church marquee. First started by storefront churches to stand out in urban settings, the marquee has become a mainstay of suburban congregations notable Baptist. Ranging from the campy and bizarre, to the political and outright inflammatory. God needs a copywriter.
posted by MiltonRandKalman (13 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My collection of church signs.
posted by ColdChef at 11:38 AM on June 4, 2007

My all time favorite, though I never got a picture of it, was a church down the road whose sign read and I quote verbatim here.. "Worship 10 am / Sacrificing Children"
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 11:52 AM on June 4, 2007

I just drove by one the other day that read "God doesn't believe in atheists. Therefore, atheists don't exist!"

My brain aches just typing that.
posted by maryh at 11:57 AM on June 4, 2007

After the Northridge, CA earthquake, not five miles from the epicenter, there was a church sign that said, "Thank God for what you have left."

Which left me to ask, who were we to thank for the earthquake?
posted by eyeballkid at 12:37 PM on June 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Here in Australia, the plastic-letters marquees seem to be rare, but lots of churches (all Protestant, I think) have a poster-holder in front of them in which they put a new slogan-poster every few months.

The posters are obviously locally made (references to local ad campaigns, cricket, et cetera), and usually about as lame as you'd expect.

Occasionally, though, something really arresting comes along. My personal favourite was the one that said

or life's purpose is meaningless

...which sounds unusually plaintive even on first reading, and gets more and more entertaining the more you think about it.

First up, it's redundant; I don't think the word "purpose" needs to be there, since a life with a meaningless purpose seems to me to be very much the same as a meaningless life.

Second, the slogan is bastardised from a quotation which I think goes "Unless you assume a God, the question of life's purpose is meaningless."

Which is usually attributed to Bertrand Russell.

The famous atheist.

Who was pointing out that the theist claim that atheists cannot come up with a supreme overarching Purpose for life is silly, since one might as well ask what is the Purpose of the moon, or sand, or time.

The moon, sand, time and life all just exist; it's up to us to think of things to do with them, if we want.

So if you're expecting any good ideas from your local pastor on the subject of what to do with your life, it might pay to check out what kind of mottoes he puts up outside his place of employment before you ask his advice.
posted by dansdata at 12:41 PM on June 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Which left me to ask, who were we to thank for the earthquake?

The good Lord giveth, and the good Lord shaketh away.
posted by maryh at 12:45 PM on June 4, 2007 [4 favorites]

It's not a church sign, exactly, but I'm sure others have seen the roadside billboard on I-65 in Alabama that says, "GO TO CHURCH or the Devil will get you!" with a little red devil silhouette attached. I drove past it a few weeks ago, but it came up too quick to get a picture of. Shame.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:51 PM on June 4, 2007

there's one subtly political church marquee i've seen on more than one occasion in my neck of the woods that reads:

Give God what's Right.
Not what's Left.

posted by saulgoodman at 1:04 PM on June 4, 2007

My church doesn't have a marquee (we're a big fancy downtown church). Marquees are kind of... quaint. But we did put up a poster that said,

Is your church full of hypocrites?

It's only about halfway full and we're looking for some new faces.

posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:01 PM on June 4, 2007

I love church marquees. While I shake my head at many of them, I admit the ones that preach love and acceptance give me a little hope.

The scariest one I ever saw:

Original thinking is lonely.
posted by frykitty at 3:07 PM on June 4, 2007

Taking the letter "M" out of a "Christmas Dinner" church marquee is always a good time.
posted by signalnine at 4:18 PM on June 4, 2007

My favorites:

"Happy Hour -- Sunday Morning"


"Wal-Mart Is Not The Only Saving Place"
posted by spitbull at 9:21 PM on June 4, 2007

I saw one the other day that said something like "Don't be too open-minded - your brain might fall out!"

Then there was the one that said simply, "AIDS IS GOD'S CURSE ON HOMOSEXUALS."

People are scary.
posted by mazatec at 3:55 PM on June 7, 2007

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