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What Is Godvertising?

The concept behind godvertising originated at least two millennia ago, long before the advent of print, the first of the mass media, and long before the establishment of advertising as a professional discipline.

The origin of the term “godvertising” is not known, but there does exist an Internet dotcom URL by that name, which was registered on July 31, 2002. It has been online at least since July 2004. One blogger’s recommendation for the godvertising Web site states, “The site is called Godvertising, and just like it sounds, God is advertising.” The owner of godvertising.com encapsulates the gist of his digital gallery in the succinct tag line, “Church Signs—Sermons in 25 words or less.” And that pretty much sums up the content of his Web site—hundreds of photos of church reader boards spotted all over the United States, and submitted by the site’s numerous visitors.

But, godvertising is so much more than Christian church signs sporting pithy or funny religion-inspired messages. These days, it encompasses every form of mass (or almost mass) media, every religion, and secular and sacred products and services.

Simply put, godvertising is characterized by four main dimensions: (1) the use of religious themes to advertise God or religion (which could be anything from the knowledge of a divine being to the welcoming fellowship of a particular church to the support of a faith-based cause or organization); (2) the use of religious themes to advertise non-religious, consumer products; (3) the use of secular or a combination of secular and religious themes to advertise God or religion; and (4) the use of religious themes to advertise religious products. Each of these dimensions represents a distinct meaning within the definition.

So, we’re going to explore on this blog every type of godvertising we can find, and try to come to some conclusions regarding its beneficial and detrimental effects. I invite you to help me with this exploration.

4 comments

  1. As far as I know, I originated the term Godvertising in 2001 to describe the subject of my photo collecting hobby. Even Google only knows it from three primary places: my web site and hobby, an album by The Volares, and now this blog. I didn’t originate the hobby; I’ve found many others who do the same thing. But I did invent the word. I don’t approve of your misappropriation of my brand name.

    Phil Hord
    phil@Godvertising.com


  2. I cannot prove that I was the first to coin the term “godvertising”, but I’ll lay claim to it until an earlier claim comes along. I wrote a piece titled “How to Get Ahead in Godvertising” on November 6, 1998, which was later published in Regeneration Quarterly (a religion and culture magazine that folded in 2003), where I was on the masthead as Media and Culture Editor. At the time, I thought I was being original, and may actually have been the first to coin it, but the only thing I do know is that my use of the term (which I thought was original when I came up with it) was prior to the use of it by the Godvertising.com website.


    • Hey, Read, I always want to give credit where credit is due. I’m going to try to find your published article. Do you have a copy of it?


  3. Did the Sunbeam Bread Bakery put their christmas billboard up again this year in your area?



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