Signs From God
Signs From God is a photographic project documenting the messages on church signs across America.
These signs are a common part of the American cultural landscape, and their messages – which address issues as diverse as family, sex, pop culture, politics, consumerism, war, the price of gas, and the afterlife – both reflect and seek to influence America’s values at any given time. The signs change with the seasons and with the news, offering unsolicited advice to passing drivers about everything from world events to holiday celebrations to proper moral behavior. The messages on church signs also reveal differences in values, concerns, and socio-economic conditions between different parts of America; I thus include as much context as possible around the signs, so that the relationship between the message and its surroundings can be seen.
The brief and often humorous messages on American church signs sometimes stand out prominently from their surroundings in the cultural landscape, but more often blend into the mass of undifferentiated urban and suburban consumer signage of American cities, becoming virtually indistinguishable from offers of 2 for 1 cheeseburgers or discounted oil changes. Many church signs mimic not only the form but also the language of advertising, presenting God as a consumer product. If the sign that reads “For all you do his blood’s for you!” is to be believed, God is like beer… but whether that comparison makes Him accessibly appealing or dismissively trivialized is unclear. Regardless, the prevalence of the signs and of related institutions, like drive-in churches and drive-through prayer kiosks, suggests that way to salvation in America today is quick and easy and can be found without having to leave the comfort of one’s car.
I, also, continue to drive around in the comfort of my car, seeking to understand this phenomenon further, and, by extension, to create a broader photographic record of the complex role that consumer-oriented religion plays in America today. Signs From God is a body of work that contains hundreds of images and continues to grow as I seek a fuller photographic representation of this uniquely American means by which a nation markets religion to itself.