Say It Loud (Billboard Evangelism)

Steve Wiggins wrote about encountering fundamentalist Christian billboards along the road:

One of the problems with driving is that you can’t get pictures of billboards. Well, given the way people drive around here, I suspect that may not always be true. Nevertheless, I always think of billboards as trying to sell something. There’s sometimes fairly easy to shut out, but in long stretches of otherwise uninteresting road you fall into their trap. Now having grown up in western Pennsylvania, we always thought the people out east—Philadelphia was the largest city in the state, after all—were more sophisticated. It is around here, however, that I often see billboards selling evangelical Christianity. If you put out your wares, you’ve got something to sell. Money to make.

As I was traveling that stretch of somewhat plain highway 33 between Stroudsburg and Easton I noticed a billboard reading “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” To shore up its academic credentials the billboard footnoted Genesis 1:1. An inspirational sunrise, if I recall, shown over the Bible. Of to the left—of course to the left!—was a small “no circle” and inside the famous skeletal progression from ape to human. The message was “no evolution.” The more I pondered this, the more strange it became. Most Americans are well aware that billboards aren’t exactly the locus of truth. They are gimmicks to try to get you into the store. Like the one a few miles down that advertises the world’s largest humidor; even those with no interest in tobacco might feel just a touch curious what such a place might look like. Why would you take your most intimate personal beliefs and put them on a billboard? Does that make evolution any less likely?

A strange perception has lately taken over this country. The idea that an individual’s wants equate with the truth. Shout it loud enough and it has to be true. Billboards would never stretch the truth, would they?

There have been and are so many interesting, shocking, outlandish, and otherwise noteworthy billboards with a religious message, that I thought I would seize this opportunity to invite you to share your favorites – or least favorites – with me. I’ve blogged about billboards and signs of various sorts in the past. One that I was reminded of when looking back to see which one(s) I might mention in this post was this one:

But there have been numerous others, both positive and negative examples. Just search this blog for “billboard” to find more, or click on the links I’ve embedded in this post!

I look forward to seeing your favorite examples of great and appalling billboards in the comment section below!

Let me conclude by mentioning a follow-up post by Steve, also featuring billboards, in which he writes:

Religion is anything but static. To test this theory simply get behind the wheel and drive out into rural America. You’ll be surprised how much you can see even at highway speeds, if you have eyes to see.

Please share what you’ve seen!

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  • John MacDonald

    My favorites are the Damnation billboards: “Where are you going: Heaven or Hell? – read John 3:36”

  • The Mouse Avenger

    I’ve seen that same anti-evolution billboard many times in the last few years, while driving to & from Beaumont, TX. I’ve seen it in other places in my state, too.

    I’ve also seen various other evangelistic billboards–some of them humorous, some of them very nice & pleasant, & some of them very harsh & judgemental.

  • jcarpenter

    years back my backpacking buddy & I “lifted” some home-grown signs down in the Smokies , one still in my garden shed as a reminder: “JESUS IS COMING !!! R U READY ???

  • pen44

    There’s a two-sided one about half way to Seattle from Vancouver WA on I-5 that uses two Bible phrases. One is “The wages of sin is death!”….I forget what the other side says, but it’s a similar message. That sign has been up for 35 years, same sign, same place. I’ve been a Jesus follower since I was 11 years old, and received my first Bible for Christmas….I just turned 74, and I know that God, the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit, is/are so much more loving and caring than these neochristians are preaching. These types of billboards lose more potential Christians than they win.

    • John MacDonald

      My Philosophy of Travel is that billboards aren’t effective unless they scare the hell out of the kids in the car. lol

      • pen44

        My daughters never really noticed them….in fact, my family doesn’t really pay much attention to that stuff—unless it’s for a restaurant along the way. The only reason I’ve noticed the one I mentioned is because it’s been there for so long….and it’s right after a restaurant stopping place that we sometimes stop to eat. It is said to have been put up by an old man decades ago, but someone is keeping it clean and fresh, because it’s been there long enough to rot by now.

  • I just saw this same billboard and googled it looking for a photo but found this post instead. It fascinated me that it should be located in an area near cities and universities. Is it affiliated with the bubble domed church a few yards down the highway? On the same highway a church had it’s own billboard, an open Bible with “study to show yourself approved into God” on it.

    My daughter and I drove through Virginia last year visiting colleges, and she was amazed at the number of fields that had the 3 crosses in them.