Religion: Going Formal

'Tis the old time religion, and it's good enough for me.

—Gospel Hymn

For more and more U.S. churchgoers, that oldtime religion is losing its appeal. A trend toward more ritual and formality in church is on the rise, and it is now invading even the Bible Belt. Many a once plain Methodist church in Georgia, Alabama and other Southern states goes in for robed minister and choirs, stained-glass windows, sermons on theology and the life of Jesus rather than hellfire and repentance; a few even have acolytes. To some Southern Methodists, it is high time to make a stand against this creeping...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!