Baptists: Where God's Business Is Big Business

Downtown Dallas on Sunday morning has the look of frontier tranquillity. The streets are clean and nearly free of traffic—except on the midtown corners that surround the First Baptist Church. Here, beginning shortly before 8 a.m., cars crowd in to disgorge loads of early worshipers. A few of the young women wear miniskirts, bouffant hairdos and unlikely eyelashes. Their female elders, considerably less chic, carry the aura of talcum and printed voile that spells the Sabbath all over the South.

With 14,825 members, the First Baptist Church of Dallas is the biggest Southern Baptist church in the U.S. This year the...

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