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  #1  
Old 12-19-2003, 06:26 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Why do churches have red doors?

I've always been told that the churches in older nice neighborhoods in town have red doors because they paint them red when they pay off the mortgage. Now my parents' church (Presbyterian, if it matters) is about to burn the mortgage (there's a party!) and somebody asked me if they're supposed to break out the red paint. Since my mother is the one who told me the mortgage reason, and now she's claiming not to know, I thought somebody here might have a better answer.

A Google search provides not much - nobody else seems to know either, at least on church web pages. Evidently there was some controversy over the issue in Episcopal Life lately, or something. So my questions are:

1. Is this a widespread tradition? Is it confined to any denomination or religion?

2. Is it really when the mortgage is paid, or is it a traditional church door color, or what? Is there some liturgical background?

3. Hi, Opal.

4. If it's traditional, what are the origins and how long has the tradiition been followed?


Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 12-19-2003, 06:47 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Okay, so I found the Episcopal Life letters column where this is discussed - can we say 'inconsistent'?

http://gc2003.episcopalchurch.org/ep...e/RedDoor.html

Answers vary from "the mortgage isn't paid" (direct opposite of what I heard, BTW) to "we are a church of the Reformation and paint our doors to match Witternburg."

Perhaps somebody here can at least shed some light?
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  #3  
Old 12-19-2003, 07:02 PM
mangeorge mangeorge is offline
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The red doors thing jogs something old in my memory, but not the reason behind the practice. Maybe because I never lived in the nice neighborhoods of my home town (Bakersfield).
Not much help, I know. Sorry.
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Old 12-19-2003, 07:08 PM
mangeorge mangeorge is offline
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The red doors thing jogs something old in my memory, but not the reason behind the practice. Maybe because I never lived in the nice neighborhoods of my home town (Bakersfield).
Not much help, I know. Sorry.
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  #5  
Old 12-20-2003, 01:02 AM
HeyHomie HeyHomie is offline
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FWIW, First Presbyterian Church in Springfield, IL, home of the Lincoln family pew, has red doors.
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  #6  
Old 12-20-2003, 01:07 AM
dropzone dropzone is online now
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Re: Why do churches have red doors?

To hold their pants up.
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  #7  
Old 12-20-2003, 02:19 AM
Flutterby Flutterby is offline
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I don't know.. but the only Biblical connotation that comes to mind is from Passover when the Jews were told to paint their doors/doorjams with lambs blood so the Angels would pass and take only the firstborn sons of the Egyptians and not the faithful.
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  #8  
Old 12-20-2003, 07:37 AM
DanBlather DanBlather is offline
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Re: Re: Why do churches have red doors?

Quote:
Originally posted by dropzone
To hold their pants up.
Beat me to it.
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  #9  
Old 12-20-2003, 08:43 AM
aesop aesop is offline
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No cite for this, but the explanation I heard was that it is symbolic of the blood of Christ. That is, the way to salvation is through the blood of Christ (through the red doors of the Church). I think the person who told me was being sincere, but again, I have no cite.

Around here virtually all the Lutheran churches have red doors.
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  #10  
Old 12-20-2003, 12:55 PM
Larry Mudd Larry Mudd is offline
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Yet another (undoubtably apocryphal) explanation that I've heard is that it is supposed to inspire piety in those that crossed the threshold by reminding them of the blood of the wicked who were pressed to death for their sins by an elaborate method which involved taking the church doors off their hinges, laying them across the accused, and piling heavy stones on them.

While pressings did happen, I doubt there's any connection to red church doors, since:
  1. Every respectable account I've ever read just mentions boards being used.
  2. Death would be from suffocation from chest compression, which wouldn't bloody up the boards, anyway.
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  #11  
Old 12-20-2003, 11:10 PM
Nametag Nametag is online now
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On several church sites, I found statements like this one:
Quote:
In the earlier days of the church it was understood that a soldier could not pursue an enemy that had entered through the red doors of a church. The red doors were a symbol of refuge and sanctuary for all people who entered. To all concerned the red on the doors signified the blood of Christ that had been shed so that all who came to him could be saved. Anyone who passed through those doors was safe as long as they stayed behind them.
Here, I found this:
Quote:
After endless queries, I found some keys to unlock the mystery of "red doors." The red door tradition goes back to the beginnings of cathedral architecture in the Middle Ages. The color red, signifying the Blood of Christ, was painted on the north, south and east doors of a church. Such symbolism represented making the sign of the cross -- Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Thus the edifice was marked as a sanctuary, identified as a refuge and safety zone from physical or spiritual dangers. The red doors shut out evil. Supposedly an enemy could not pursue his victim across the sacred threshold.
And I found this"
Quote:
Throughout the ages, red doors have been symbolic to the Christian faith and a traditional part of Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox churches. In the early centuries, red doors marked the church as a place of sanctuary and safety. In medieval times the front (west*) and transept (north and south*) doors were painted red to symbolize the blood and nail wounds of Christ. In later times red doors have come to signify the presence and fire of the Holy Spirit and to serve as a sign of welcome, warmth and love.
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