Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Smokeing or Non-Smokeing?


I live in Small Town, Bible Belt, USA.  This is on the corner of the busiest intersection of the small town I live in. There are only three traffic lights.  Everybody here believes in God.  There is only one professed atheist in town.  He’s an attorney.  The religious folks snark about his atheism, but if you want a good attorney, one who will get down to business and call it like he sees it, he’s your man.  Loads of people use him when they really mean business.  If you are the defendant in a suit that involves Atheist Attorney as the plaintiff’s man you know you’re in trouble. But he doesn’t have many friends.  They love him while he’s chewing up their fellow Christians from eight to five. People shun him because he eats babies when he’s not in the courtroom.  I digress….

Here even the lowliest drunk, the biggest scoundrel, the most dishonest business man, and the least faithful spouse believes in God and Jesus.  Strike up a conversation with any one of them and they’ll tell you how God has helped them, Jesus saved them and they are heaven bound.  They live like atheists and talk like evangelicals.  That’s not to say there aren’t devout Christians here.  This little town is full of those, too.  They’re the ones who think all the others are headed straight for the smokeing [sic] section.  Thus the sign.

It’s just a reminder for anyone who’s forgotten that if you don’t “get right with God” you’re headed for the fiery flames for all of eternity.    Darn shame those flashing signs don’t come with spell-check.


16 thoughts on “Smokeing or Non-Smokeing?

  1. I wondered why I was sitting in this handbasket…


  2. Is it getting smokey in your handbasket? Is it getting a little crowded in the handbasket or are there individual handbaskets? I can't see for all the smoke. ::cough*cough::


  3. Small Town is known for antique shops and small cafes. This is in the historic downtown section where all of our guests come to shop and eat. Doesn't this sign just scream, "Welcome!"?


  4. And the stereotype of the poorly educated Bible-thumper is reinforced.


  5. How will your sign be remembered for eternity?By spellling or not spellling? 😉


  6. Watching the Reds, Indians game today. It is being broadcast on the channel our troops receive overseas. They are running a ticker at the bottom of the screen with text messages from viewers to our troops. Prayer and God are quite prominent in the text messages. God is alive and well…what's the score.I live in an area where Evangelicalism rules the roost. That's why I do my stupid sign of the week posts. Hate the signs. Will the sign you show do Anything to bring a person to Jesus? Or is the real objective to tell NonChristians that they are going to pay?


  7. D'MA, the photo in this article REALLY reminds me of a photo I took several years ago near my home – I hope you don't mind me sharing it and the accompanying article I wrote while I was still a struggling Christian:http://de-conversion.com/2007/09/11/my-911-prayer/


  8. @DougB,The person who had the sign placed is the local pharmacist. He is not the person, I'm sure, who put the sign out there. His school teacher wife must not have noticed it yet. It jumped off the board at me. Regardless it does reinforce the stereotype.@TWF,Hooked on phonics worked for me!@Bruce,I hate these signs, too. Not long ago I was in the neighboring town and saw a sign on a church marquis that read, "Ironing out your problems with God puts wrinkles on your face." I went back to snap a pic the next day as I wasn't in a position to get it right then. It was gone. Really? I'll take my chances on my own! Not a good advertisement for God. LOL!Knowing the folks behind the sign I'd say in their defense that I really think they just intend to get people to think about the consequences of not believing in God. The problem is it only lets people know they're not in the club. It separates between "us" and "them".@HeIsSailing,Of course I don't mind you linking one of your articles here. Thanks for sharing!


  9. @HeIsSailing,Wow! I read the article and the prayer was very moving. Yes, the signage is very similar.


  10. Sharp, funny, and well written. Your post is missing only a vending machine that serves cold beer. I can half-imagine what if must be like to live in a town with more churches than atheists. I grew up in a small, rural Northern town. Some of the things you say sound familiar to me. I found my life more or less began when I left for college. Do you ever find your town stifling? And if so, what do you do about it?


  11. There's a sign in our small town at the Church of the Nazarene that says "Need a helping hand, look at the end of your arm"I think I've said this before, but literally, not exaggerating, there are 5 churches all different denominations within a quarter of a mile of each other and my house is between them. They all have signs and they all say pretty much the same thing.


  12. @Paul Sunstone,Thanks! Oh no, no, no. We could never have a beer-vending machine. Small Town, Dry County, Bible Belt, USA here. The County and City do allow sale of beer and wine-coolers. Only in the last three or four years have restaurants been given the green light to sell liquor drinks by the glass. It was such an uproar that Small Town has stricken the measure down so many times that Small Town Council finally decided to put it on a referendum. The measure passed, but not overwhelmingly and the churches protested mightily. As for your question about whether I find Small Town stifling; meh, a little. More now that I'm having all these religious doubts. When I was in the club I never found it stifling. I loved it. I think I'll get back to that place when I'm more comfortable just being me. As for what I do about it? I fly off to England. :)@theagnosticswife,Oh wow! I usually try to read into the signs what I think the posters of the sign mean. For example, I would think that they probably mean by that "If you need a helping hand you should extend a helping hand". But that's totally having to twist the text to get to that meaning. For those who actually need a helping hand it probably sounds more like, "If you need a helping hand don't come asking for it here. God helps those who help themselves." People really don't put themselves in the shoes of others before they open their pie hole. Just think somebody had all the time they were putting those letters up to re-think the message that was sending.Within the three mile stretch (if it's even that long) that is Main Street there's the Nazarene Church, the Church of Christ, the Methodist Church, the First Baptist Church, the Non-Denominational Church, the Primitive Baptist Church, another Baptist Church and an A.M.E. Church. So I know exactly what you mean.


  13. HeIsSailing,I read your link. that was a beautiful prayer. It really reflects my own feelings and where I am at now.


  14. I would actually like to retire to a small town, somewhere in Portugal, Spain France or the south of England. Where they have open markets one can wander around and maybe one can bicycle or walk pretty much everywhere.

    Small town US of eh? strikes me as a bit too god-lovin’ y’all . Maybe there are such small places where there are actually two atheists?


    • Maybe..

      I loved the south of England. I’ve never been anywhere else outside of the U.S. I’m sure I’d love other places equally so. I really liked the way they preserve their architectural history. Even most of the new construction looks like and fits with the old.


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