Can someone please explain to me what the phrase "I'll turn this church around" means, and possibly where it originated from?

If you must know, the context is two people arguing in a church with a third one sick of it and saying "Stop it or I'll turn this church around."


I don't think it qualifies as an idiom. It generally means to shift the direction of thinking, policy-making, church practices, etc. among the congregation members, the administration, or the clergy.
Hi Chen, I'm glad you provided the context or I would never have understood it. And I laughed when I did understand it.

It's a play on common expression used in families. Let's say you have a family on their way to a fun outing and they kids in the back are arguing or otherwise behaving badly. The father says "Okay, you kids, stop it or I'm turning this car around." This means, he'll go back home and they won't go on to do their fun thing. It's become a stereotyped thing to say when people are arguing and you don't want to hear it. "Stop it you two, or I'll turn this car around!" So in this case, they were sitting in church. Obviously, the third person couldn't turn the car around at that point - so he made a play on the phrase and substituted church for car.

Does that make sense now?

edited to add: Oh, I see that we were both working on our answers at the same time. As pointed about above, "turn something around" does mean to change the direction or thinking, usually improving it. But in this context, I think my description is probably the one the original author intended.
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Hi Geek,

Thanks a lot for the detailed explanation. It does make a lot of sense and finally I understand the joke. Emotion: smile

All the best,

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Grammar Geek, great detective work here. Yes, the context was the key.
Was it the caption for a cartoon? Maybe with kids sitting in a pew behind their parents?