Here's Your Sign!

April 23, 2008

Church signs are designed to get people interested in visiting the church and learning more about God. Yet, sometimes a church goes a little crazy and ends up with a controversial message that hurts their image and drives away some people. The latest example occurred when Reverend Roger Byrd put up a new message at Jonesville Church of God in Jonesville, South Carolina. The sign read:

Obama, Osama, humm, are they brothers?
Not only is the message dumb and offensive, but it has nothing to do with the mission of the church. Then this codger--I mean his brother Roger--claimed that it was not a political message but just intended to get people to think. He apparently thinks one cannot think about politics, but those are not mutually exclusive categories. It is bad enough he put up the offensive message, but then he will not even be honest about it. He then said:

It's simply to cause people to realize and to see what possibly could happen if we were to get someone in there that does not believe in Jesus Christ.
That is a political message! He is saying people should be careful about voting for Obama because he might be Muslim (which he is not). The pastor added that he did not know if Obama was a Muslim or not so that is why the sign was asking that question. At first he claimed he would not take down the message, but it is now gone and church officials with his denomination issued a statement criticizing it. Hopefully, he learned an important lesson from this incident.

In my book (For God's Sake, Shut Up!), I critiqued a pastor in North Carolina for posting a sign saying the Qur'an should be flushed down the toilet. That sign also caused a lot of controversy and made Christians look hateful. In these two cases it would have been better if they had just put up the worship times or the message "God loves you!" (can you really top that?). In my critique of the earlier sign, I noted the song by comedian Bill Engvall where he wishes that dumb people had to wear a sign warning the rest of us about them. He then mentions someone doing something dumb and says, "Here's your sign!" Unfortunately, it seems that some Christians are working hard to put up such a sign. What we need instead are more thoughtful and loving attempts to communicate the good news.