The sign is in the public right of way, which violates the City of Salem sign ordinance. So I'm wondering if Jesus loves illegal signs. Here's what the Salem Community Vision post said.
THIS IS WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU DON'T ENFORCE THE CITY SIGN CODE
There are hundreds of illegal temporary signs in the public right of way all over Salem, but this one on Mission Street really takes the cake!
The signs proliferate because for years now the City has stopped enforcing our sign code which prohibits temporary signs in the ROW [right of way]. When small businesses see signs in the ROW all over town, they think its okay. It's not. It's a blight and an embarrassment. Out of towners must think we're a bunch of yahoos who don't give a damn about the appearance of Oregon's capital city.
Do you suppose we could do something about this before we get thousands of visitors for the eclipse in August? How about a volunteer enforcement brigade? We'd send a message: Don't Mess With Salem.
I totally agreed with these sentiments.
My next thoughts were these: (1) asking drivers to "honk if you agree" about anything seems stupid, especially when no one is around to hear the honking (does Jesus also love honking?), and (2) what the heck is PoleGems?
It turns out that this group aims "to support, empower, and equip people working in all facets of adult entertainment, and victims of sex trafficking, to live healthy, flourishing lives."
Well, that sounds good -- aside from the question of why PoleGems seemingly feels the need to butt into the lives of everybody who works in the adult entertainment industry, regardless of whether they feel the need for support, empowerment, and equipment to live healthy, flourishing lives.
[Note: I don't believe in God or in any religion. So trying to convert people to Christianity or any other supernatural fantasy strikes me as a waste of time. But I also believe in freedom of expression, so long as it isn't coercive. Along that line, I suspect that many, if not most, workers in the adult entertainment industry view PoleGems as I view Jehovah's Witnesses: people who deserve to hear "No, thanks, not interested."]
Here's a few excerpts from the PoleGems web site:
We have a great team of volunteers at POLE Gems. We are all committed to furthering the mission of Christ by assisting women and men who are involved in the sex industry. We believe that God has called us to this particular field and love to see Him working in the lives of those we serve.
...We have many opportunities to get connected with POLE Gems. First, pray! Our ministry would not be as successful as it is without the covering of prayer from our many supporters! Our volunteers gather once a month to go into the clubs with gifts and love for the staff and dancers.
And the PoleGems Facebook page talks about their connection with Strip Church in Las Vegas.
Strip Church serves, teaches and equips women who share a heart and calling to reach out into clubs. We provide 2-3 Training Conferences each year, developing 20-30 people each time. These leaders are trained to do strip club ministry in their cities across the U.S. Our Strip Church Network is supported through monthly training conference calls, resources, networked websites, blogs, prayer, and branded materials to use inside the clubs.
OK. Like I said, this is a free country.
Christians are free to proselytize in overt and covert ways. Bringing gift bags to women who work in strip clubs and befriending them in hopes they will come to Jesus (and leave the adult entertainment industry) is a totally legal thing to do.
Personally, though, I feel that Christian efforts to bring people back to the "straight and narrow" would be better served by visiting the head offices of large money-sucking corporations, especially those in the fossil fuel industries that are wrecking our planet.
I realize that some of the workers in strip clubs are taken advantage of and need help. But so do workers in many other industries, which leads me to suspect that the zeal of PoleGems is founded more in a moralistic judgement that strip clubs are evil, than in a desire to help the most afflicted American workers.
Regardless... let's get back to the illegal sign.
It really is illegal, as Salem Community Vision pointed out to the executive director of PoleGems, Cynthia Shaver -- who commented on the Facebook post, saying she was just trying to draw attention to a July 4 fundraiser and didn't know the sign violated a City ordinance.
Regardless of the content and your good intentions, this sign is illegal. It's in the public right of way. You could be fined $2,000 a day if the City enforced their code. You need to move it back from the street (behind the sidewalk) and then it will be legal. Do it now please. Repect the law.
Disturbingly, even after Shaver was told about the prohibition on temporary signs in the public right of way (which includes the area between a sidewalk and a street), she persisted in her belief that it was OK for the large illegal PoleGems sign to remain standing.
It seems strange to me that a "good Christian" would knowingly flaunt the law, especially when her group is dedicated to helping people who they consider might be at risk of getting involved in illegal activities.
My proud atheism may be speaking here, but I often find that religious people are annoyingly sure that whatever they're doing in the "name of God" is beyond reproach. In this case, PoleGems needs to realize that they are violating the City of Salem temporary sign ordinance.
The fact that many other businesses and organizations also are in violation of the ordinance is no excuse. If PoleGems wants people in Salem to believe that they are out to do the right thing for people in this town, they should start acting like good citizens.
Tear down this sign!, Ms. Shaver. (To kind of quote Ronald Reagan.)