Religion: Trouble in Alton

Earnest John G. Gill looked like just the man to take care of the Unitarian Church in the quiet, well-kept town of Alton, 111. (pop. 32,000), on the bluffs of the Mississippi River. At Harvard, John Gill had written his Ph.D. thesis on Elijah Parish Lovejoy, the fiery Abolitionist minister and editor who was beaten to death by an Alton mob in 1837.

For six years John Gill and Alton got along, but beneath the tranquil surface, trouble threatened. Like many another small town in southern Illinois, Alton ignores a state law, on the...

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