ASL Dictionary of Religious Signs


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This dictionary fulfills the purpose of presenting certain religious signs in a (hopefully) understandable, visual way. We have not created it under the pretense that it alone could be used to teach ASL, but instead that it functions as a reference material and supplement to "real" training.

Please note that this should not be considered in any way comprehensive, nor is it the Final Authority on religious signs in ASL. Our aim is simply to provide a reliable, high-quality internet reference source for anyone interested in religious signs.

So who should use it?
Really, anybody can use it. It is mainly geared toward people who are learning or already know some ASL and are interested in learning some religious (mostly Christian) signs. In which case it works quite handily. However, it is not limited to that audience. Someone who is deaf and has recently become a Christian may want to use it, or even someone who has no ASL knowledge but is interested in becoming involved in Deaf ministry (in which case we strongly suggest you find someone who can teach you sign language).

Why are some of your signs different from the ones to which I am accustomed?
Because a sign is different does not mean it is not acceptable in ASL. The sign as you know it and the sign as depicted here may both be acceptable. There are several possibilities that may account for any discrepancies you may find between certain signs in our dictionary and the signs as you may have already learned them. Two such reasons are:
-Regional variations. Some areas use different signs for the same word than other areas do. There are many, many reasons why this could be, such as local beliefs or living conditions, geographical location, or tradition. We have tried to include the most commonly accepted signs in our dictionary. In a few cases, regional variations may be noted or even shown.
-Denominational variations. The signs in this dictionary are primarily used within Christian Churches or Churches of Christ. You may belong to a denomination that has differing beliefs and practices. Thus, the sign you learned would be different. For instance, the Catholic Church baptizes by sprinkling, while the Church of Christ baptizes by immersion. Because the sign for "baptize" is based on the action used when baptizing, the sign used within the Catholic Church is different from the one in our dictionary.

Note that the more variations you learn, the easier it will be for you to communicate with people from different areas and of different religious backgrounds.

If I am left-handed do I have to sign the same way as shown?
Yes and no. You need to use the same hand shapes and motions as she is using, but you may use the opposite hand. It is normal for left-handed people to use their left hand as their dominant hand, the effect being that the sign is a mirror image of the way a right-handed person signs. D.M. is right-handed, so she uses the right hand as her dominant hand. If you are left-handed, keep this in mind as you view the animation.

ABC Animation
Click here to view a short ABC animated movie. Designed and created by Jawn Gross, this animation also appears on The Finger Food Cafe Show: A Christmas Gift.