The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


September 23, 2008

Too casual?

Some people used to complain when the acolytes wore gym shoes. Wonder what they think about flip flops?

Churches aren’t immune in a world gone casual as tank tops, flip flops, jeans, T-shirts and shorts are appearing at worship. According to the Chicago Tribune : “Gone from most congregations are men in jackets and ties and shiny shoes. Women in heels and dresses—never mind hats—can be a rarity too. It’s a trend some clergy lament and others accept.”

Joseph McLoone, a priest in Chester, Pa., grudgingly accepts it. “Sunday has lost its sense of being a special day, and I think the clothes went with it. ... But I’m just happy they’re in church,” he said. (He noted that notions of proper church attire can vary according to income, age and ethnicity.)

But Joseph Ganiel, a priest in Ventnor, N.J., has had it with “tank tops and flip-flops and short shorts and naked navels.” Saying people should “dress in accord with the dignity of the mass,” he posts a summer dress code in the parish bulletin: “Casual wear is not appropriate for the joyful but formal atmosphere of worship.”

Is the Philadelphia woman who said, “I think God cares about what’s in your heart, not what you wear” right? Or are flip flops during worship a flop?

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