Material History of American Religion Project

Picturing Faith: Religious America in Government Photography, 1935 - 1943

Gospel Truck
John Vachon
July 1939
Washington, D.C.

John Vachon may have composed this photograph to poke fun at the beliefs of evangelical Protestants. He positioned the capitol, with its symmetrical columns and direct simplicity, above the gospel truck with its asymmetrical printing and jumbled message. Is Vachon telling us that the pristine ideals of democracy and the power of the government are superior to the rambling jeremiad of pietistic faith? Or is he merely setting up a series of clever visual contrasts?

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