Church Signs Go to the Supreme Court

Church Signs Go to the Supreme Court

January 21, 2015 by

Update: The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the church.

It’s not easy being a small church in a temporary location. It’s especially tough when the city is battling your signage.

Good News Presbyterian Church has been meeting in temporary locations around the town of Gilbert, Ariz. They have been using temporary signage inviting the residents to join them for worship. Seems pretty harmless.

However, Gilbert has placed restrictions on temporary religious signage which can only be six square feet, displayed for no more than 14 hours, and must be out of the right-of-way. Their argument is that they want to uphold the safety and aesthetics of their community.

Understandable. There’s nothing worse than driving through a town with temporary signage littering the roadways.

However, political signs in Gilbert can be up to 32 square feet, displayed for up to five months, and can be placed in the right-of-way. Hmm . . .

Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Rev. Clyde Reed, the pastor of Good News Presbyterian Church, against the town of Gilbert arguing that the ordinance discriminates based on content.

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court (yes, SCOTUS will rule on church marketing!) and was heard on Jan. 12, 2015. You can read the transcript here (PDF). USA Today has a good summary of the case’s background, including an update that Gilbert has changed their sign rules, allowing churches larger signs that can stay up longer.

A decision has yet to be made, and we hope to keep you posted with updates because this could affect how your church does temporary signage. It’s important to familiarize yourself with signage ordinances in your community.

What do you think of Reed v. Town of Gilbert?

Photo by Alliance Defending Freedom.
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Crystal Kirkman

Crystal Kirkman is the communications director at First Christian Church in Decatur, Ill. She moonlights as a wife, mom and freelancer (go Illini!).
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