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Feeling his current signage was inadequate to truly spread the word of God—or at least that of His representative, the Greater Harvest Baptist Church—the Rev. Ermine Johnson decided to upgrade by ordering a 24-square-foot, moveable-type sign. But in this matter, Johnson failed to consult the proper higher authority: At a recent D.C. Department of Transportation hearing, the minister was informed of a longstanding regulation that allows “church bulletins” of only 20 square feet or smaller. When Johnson showed regulators pictures he’d taken of larger signs around the city, he says, “they implied some of these other churches are not as scrupulous as they should be.” Now Johnson has a big $3,360 sign hidden inside his little Columbia Heights temple. Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham says the rules don’t make sense, especially given the large advertisements on downtown buildings: “So why don’t they just ease up?” he says. “Let the church put up their sign.”

—John Metcalfe