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Signs of Conscience


There is a disturbing trend among churches in the Shenandoah Valley threatening to chase away the most repentant sinner.
Sign boards in front of the church. You know, the ones that are supposed to tell the time of their service? Now they scold you from the roadside – with horribly bad puns and simplistic philosophy.
“Give God what’s right, not what’s left.” announced one local church. And just when I manage to stop groaning, another pops up stating perkily, “You may not believe in God, but he believes in you!”
Now these are rather harmless and I probably wouldn’t have noticed but for the signs that have a distinctly smug overtone.
“Forbidden fruit creates many jams!” natters one church. “Reason is the greatest enemy of faith,” sneers another.
Am I the only one who hears Dana Carvey’s Church Lady reading each message? And isn’t this the sort of conceited self-righteousness that makes you want to . . . I don’t know . . . see-yun! (True believers know the word “sin” has two syllables.)
But then there are the signs that just make you shake your head.
This Easter the sign outside a church on the highway read, “Prepare your Easter heart, not your Easter hat.” It’s been 20 years since anyone around here has worn a hat to church or anywhere else, other than a greasy bill cap with “John Deere” on it.
The same church recently presented a treatise that required four passes in my car before I got the gist of the entire message: “God don’t make anything without a purpose, but mosquitoes come close.” (Say it with a Southern accent and the grammar almost sounds correct. . .). Hardly inspirational, and almost jovial until I remember their usual message condemns just about everyone to hell who doesn’t worship with them.
I realize signs like this may be old news in a lot of areas of the U.S. But up until recently there were very few churches around here that felt compelled to nag passersby. It seems when people started moving here from other areas of the country – and world – these signs started popping up everywhere.
This is a county that still begins some school functions with prayers ending “. . .In Jesus’ name, Amen.” As of yet, no one has called them on it. But you can’t help but notice the change in the population mix that has taken place over the last year. Hence the battle lines are subtly being drawn.
Apparently there are books offering suggestions for nagging church signs, meaning someone is getting paid to come up with stuff like, “God answers knee-mail.” I’m guessing the Hee Haw writers had to find work somewhere.
But every now and then the self-righteous are put in their place by a God that thinks a sign that says “AIDS cures sodomy” is vicious (at least that’s what I’d like to think). This is only hearsay, but a friend told me of a church near her that for a day and a half had on their sign, “A four-inch tongue can bring down a six-foot man,” before anyone realized the double-entendre.

Share  Posted by Jeanne Jackson at 12:19 PM | Permalink

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