Is your faith on a billboard or in your actions? - Johnny Jackson

It's a huge billboard paid for by your community faithful.

It's something even the most religious and spiritual of us have pondered at one point or another.

The other day, as I was driving along my merry way, I came upon this billboard. It didn't necessarily catch my eye. But I saw it all the same.

Contrary to what one would expect, the words on the billboard didn't read much like a friendly advertisement at all.

Instead, the billboard came off a bit surly and bigoted. Rather, it very much read like a scare tactic.

It said something to the effect, and I'm paraphrasing, that 'a certain entity and no other is your salvation and your path to goodness in the after life.' This was, at least, my interpretation and impression.

And that impression is what gives me pause every now and then, when I think about where we've come as a world of people - many of us faithful people.

What I'm wondering is, "when did we - whatever religion we are - get to the point of scaring people into being saved or sanctified?"

And is this not a mistake by some hoping to bring back to the masses virtue and morality? That is if the masses truly ever had virtue.

Surely there is a better way to re-ignite virtue into people than paying for space on a billboard, where I'm sure many will be turned off just by the medium of the message. A billboard for faith?

I wonder how much it cost. Or was it free? I wonder how much effort it took to 'try and reach the masses' that way - effort, time, money, or energy that quite possibly could have helped gotten a homeless individual off the street, sent someone to college for a semester, paid a senior's electricity bill, or any number of things.

I think my point is not that someone or some group put thought, time, money, or effort into creating a billboard to attract (scare) the masses to be religious, faithful, moral, or virtuous people.

My point is that we too often put stock into doing things on a grand scale for what we believe to be great causes, and we completely miss even the point of our great causes.

In theory, a billboard advertisement is effective. But faith and virtue are not industries to advertise in bold four-foot letters. Rather, it is works and action that make these words attractive to people.

Johnny Jackson is the education reporter for the Henry Daily Herald newspaper. He can be reached by e-mail at jjackson@henryherald.com or by phone at (770) 957-9161.