Americana: God and Elvis in Illinois

The First Church of God in tiny (pop. 6,800) Benton, Ill., has a new patron saint of sorts: Elvis Presley. The fundamentalist church's affiliation with the late rock star began last February when the Rev. Lloyd Tomer was faced with a $1 million debt from the building of his new chapel. The 500 parishioners were praying daily for the Lord to show them some way to pay their debt when, according to Tomer, God answered in the person of one Robert Philpot, a Dallas oilman. In search of a promotion gimmick to introduce his...

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