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Is Dallas the Most Christian City in the NATION?

On a single Sunday last October, a Baptist congregation offered up $1.8 million to the collection plate. Each week some 900 meetings are staged at a Methodist church in Highland Park. We are perceived as a city with a church on every corner and a Rolex on every wrist. Do we worship at the altar of salvation or success?

On my first visit to Chez Philippe in late 1984-at that moment the newest, most chic restaurant in town-a good-looking, well-dressed young couple sat at the next table. When their food arrived, they bowed their heads, joined hands and said grace aloud. One member of my party was intrigued enough to start up a conversation, so we learned that both of the young people were students at Christ For The Nations, a large charismatic Bible institute in Oak Cliff. He was preparing for the ministry, thinking perhaps of foreign mission work.

It seemed incongruous that this young man, who might be spending most of his life preaching the gospel in a jungle somewhere, was spending well over $100 on a dinner date in the glossiest restaurant in Dallas. But that easy coexistence of religion with money and the trappings of worldly success often seems one of the most characteristic things about this city, where a church seems to sit on every corner, each more massive and more opulent than the next. Three of them-First Baptist of Dallas, Highland Park Methodist and Highland Park Presbyterian- are the largest or nearly the largest churches in their denominations anywhere. A number of Dallas churchmen have become nationally known spokesmen for political and social points of view-usually conservative. And money seems tied up with religion here to an extent that can shock even visiting clergymen from other parts of the world. On one Sunday in October, for instance, the First Baptist Church of Dallas took up a single collection that brought in $1.8 million over and above the church’s regular annual campaign.

These two sides of Dallas, the spiritual and the worldly, seem hard to reconcile. The city and suburbs hold about 1,200 churches, roughly two-thirds of which can be classified as staunchly within the most conservative strains of American religion (Baptist, Church of Christ and various strains of independent fundamentalist or Pentecostal practice). You could certainly make a case for Dallas as the most Christian city in the country-the one with the largest and most fervent percentage of active worshipers. (A 1980 national survey put the number of actively involved church-goers in Dallas County as just under 50 percent-41 percent Protestant, 8.4 percent Catholic and 0.5 percent Jewish. But this significantly underrepresents the active Protestant population because the survey omitted independent and nondenominational churches.) And there is no doubt that Christianity of a conservative stripe gives Dallas much of its particular civic flavor and color, just as New York has its Jewish flavor and New Orleans (white New Orleans, at least) its Catholic flavor.

At the same time, Dallas is a city that worships success, especially financial success. And it is a city lurching without grace through a slough of social problems: Its divorce rate is the highest in the country; its child abuse and teenage pregnancy rates are almost as high. You could as easily make a case for Dallas’ being the most worldly city in America as the most Christian.

Is either view true? Are they both true? Are there two Dallases, one pious and Godfearing, the other driven by lust for money and power-and simply by lust? Or do these two cities interpenetrate each other and constitute one whole?

On the surface, the two sides of Dallas seem to get along remarkably well. To a newcomer, one of the most surprising things about the very visible religious life of the city is the number of young professionals and business people who are active in churches of all sorts. Religion has become positively stylish in Dallas. Nick Rossini, a businessman still in his 20s who is building a fortune by leasing out space in high-rise office buildings, says that “church membership is part of the package here,” right up there with memberships in fancy health clubs and imported cars. Many of our most successful people go to church; the question is whether that experience has any influence on their behavior.

A former assistant district attorney, now in private practice downtown, says that religion in Dallas has changed dramatically since he graduated from SMU Law School in 1973. “There’s a much greater openness about spiritual interests in the last three or four years-religious ideas are perceived as being more defensible.” He believes the apparent piety among the successful is for the most part genuine and points to the contributions to the community that moneyed Christians have made.

Others point out the strain that living the success ethic puts on genuine religious commitment. Hal Habecker, the South Central regional director of the Christian Medical Society, is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary who ministers to medical and dental students and physicians and dentists in Christian groups in four states. He thinks that Dallas’ pressured atmosphere poses a special problem for those who are trying to lead a fervent religious life. “Doctors are worried that if they don’t put their professions first, they won’t succeed,” he says. “The medical world conforms them to its demands. I’m not saying that you can’t go into the professions and be a Christian, but you have to go in from a different angle. I don’t think we’re challenging professionals enough to live up to their commitments.

“I’m astonished,” Habecker says, “that Christian doctors don’t have clinics to work with poor people, for instance. There are individuals, but not a group within the profession.”

Dallas has all kinds of Christian ministries specifically set up to deal with the affluent and educated, from the medical-dental Sunday school class at the First Baptist church to the national headquarters for Christian Leadership Ministries, the wing of Campus Crusade for Christ devoted to reaching university alumni and professors. Businessmen’s prayer breakfasts and golf tournament fundraisers are commonplace calendar events.

BUT THE YUPPIFICATION of religion is not the only important trend in Dallas Christianity. Here are a few others:

The decline of denominational labels. Many congregations that avoid denominational labels entirely are booming. The Bible churches, for instance-independent churches whose conservative beliefs are taught at the Dallas Theological Seminary- are flourishing, claiming to approach the sacred text without the predispositions or traditional interpretations of one sect or another. Ironically, the very success of the churches bearing this name is causing people both inside and outside to begin to think of them as a new denomination, even though no external structure ties Bible churches together.

The rise of the independent charismatic churches. Their billboards alone, trumpeting such slogans as “Larry Lea Presents JESUS” in strategic locations all over town, guarantee that everybody knows about them. The largest-Word of Faith Outreach Center in Farmers Branch and Church on the Rock in Rockwall-have achieved enormous size in record time. Theologically, these churches are often not very different from the old-line Pentecostal denominations. But culturally, the independent charismatic congregations are far different from their Pentecostal forebears-slicker, more sophisticated and citified, less tied to the austere “holiness” image of the old-line Pentecostals (whereas the women among classic Pentecostals tended to dress their hair in elaborate, archaic fashions and forgo makeup, the new charismatic ladies go in for “Color Me Beautiful” makeovers). The new charismatic independents draw their members from every denominational background, and their pastors usually have no Pentecostal upbringing-several, for instance, are Baptist. The classic Pentecostal denominations like the Assemblies of God seem to be taking notes from the neo-Pentecostal successes and are giving some of their churches new names like Calvary Temple and Christian Life Cathedral.

The strengthening of interdenominational ties. This is mostobvious with members of the charismatic renewal in thedenominational churches, who have combined forces to organizelarge rallies on Pentecost Sundays in Dallas for years. But it seemstrue to a large extent among other groups as well: Theologicalliberals seem to find kinship with liberals in other denominations,fundamentalists with fundamentalists. To a certain extent, this maybe the result of all the interdenominational work among thechurches over the last three decades or more. The liberals havebanded together for various social outreaches and discussiongroups; the evangelicals have done extensive work in para-churchorganizations like Campus Crusade for Christ (which employsover 200 people in the Dallas area alone). If there is ever a significant realignment or consolidation among denominations, it seemsmore likely to grow out of such ties than out of the theologicalnegotiations of official ecumenism.

A growing spirit of tolerance for other religious groups. It marked a real breakthrough when in recent years Dr. W. A. Criswell of the First Baptist Church praised the pope from the pulpit and later praised the Korean charismatic pastor Dr. Paul Y. Cho, pastor of perhaps the single largest Christian congregation on earth. Traditionally, Catholics and charismatics had not been on Dr. Criswell’s most admired list. Among evangelicals in general, Roger Staubach is a figure often cited as an example of a prominent Christian businessman in Dallas, again in spite of his Catholicism.

An emphasis on community, not just theology. Big churches are worrying more about how to help their members get to know one another. “In the major metropolitan areas and the urban society that we live in today,” says Bobbie J. Cavnar, the leader of the mostly Catholic charismatic Community of God’s Delight, “we find ourselves without any type of structure whatsoever to hang onto except our individual capabilities, and we find it harder and harder to orient ourselves toward an ordered and disciplined life.” Protestant churches have always had Sunday school classes and Bible studies to tie people together, but many are looking for ways that go beyond these. Churches of all denominations and outlooks are promoting home study programs and fellowships to try to build relationships as well as to teach.

PERHAPS THE BEST place to take a detailed look at some of the chief characteristics of religion in Dallas in 1985 is Word of Faith World Outreach Center, the independent charismatic congregation on Stemmons Freeway just north of LBJ. Word of Faith is not aligned with any denomination and draws its members from a wide assortment of church backgrounds (perhaps 20 percent of those who attend on Sunday actually go to another denominational church service as well). It is heavily involved in a program of home fellowship study groups, with about 685 weekly neighborhood meetings set up in every corner of the Metroplex. A third of the members are single, and a glossy sheen of success coats the congregation. But, as if to show that no one church can embody every trend, Word of Faith is an exception to the rule about a new feeling of harmony and mutual tolerance among Christians in Dallas.

The Word of Faith church building looks something like a modernistic shopping mall; its office building across the street looks like the headquarters of some largish high-tech corporation. In fact, in some ways Word of Faith is a largish high-tech corporation, complete with a security system that requires an identification pass to let you into the building.

Word of Faith was founded in 1976 by Robert G. Tilton and his wife Marte (who is also considered one of the pastors). Robert Tilton, who was born in McKinney and went to high school in Richardson, worked as a mechanical designer and then built houses before getting the call to the ministry in 1974. After two years of tent preaching, the Tiltons started their new church with three other adults in a YMCA Building in Farmers Branch. Fewer than 10 years later, the congregation numbers more than 8,000 members.

All the numbers at Word of Faith are impressive. There are 200 full-time people on the payroll, including 21 ministers. The $22 million yearly budget pays for a 24-hour satellite network with downlinks from Alaska through the Caribbean. More than 1,800 churches receive the satellite programming, and the work of the Bible Institute attached to the church is also broadcast into 700 extension classrooms. In addition, the Tiltons produce a daily radio and television program called Success*N*Life that teaches people how to be…a success in life.

It is this last element in the mix at Word of Faith that has so many rival churchmen up in arms. The Tiltons are accused of teaching the “prosperity gospel’-the idea that if you are doing the will of God, you will be a financial success. The weekly and daily messages also put heavy emphasis on faith healing. “I can’t compete with that,” one Baptist preacher says. “If you tell somebody that if he will join your church he will be healthy and wealthy, I can see why he would be attracted.”

The staff at Word of Faith doesn’t shy away from the “prosperity gospel” label, though it does offer explanations of the doctrine that try to make it seem more conventional than it does at first. The basic idea is that if a person is on right terms with God, all the other aspects of his life will come into proper order as well. He will work harder, and God will shower him with blessings. Theologically, the message at Word of Faith is little different from the Calvinist doctrine of our Puritan forefathers, with its concept of material rewards for faith and right behavior. But the doctrine is given a topspin at Word of Faith. Lip service may be paid to the idea of seeking the kingdom of God first (and then “all these things shall be added unto you”), but the success-in-life message seems to be equated closely with the kingdom itself.

A spokesman for the church calls Tilton an “entrepreneur in ministry,” and there is certainly an entrepreneurial feel about Word of Faith. Dallas is a hot center for Zig Ziglarian motivational types who preach positive thinking as a means of success, and Word of Faith is only the clearest link between motivational business philosophy and the conservative Christians who are its primary market. The problem, as many other Christian leaders see it, is the confusion of the two messages. The Success*N*Life approach to the gospel seems to squirm away from the hard words the gospels contain about rich men and the eye of a needle, to minimize the sufferings inherent in life-to avoid, in a word, the cross.

There are other bothersome things about Word of Faith. One is that emphasis on the personality of the pastor seems even stronger than at most preaching-oriented churches. (The monthly newspaper seems invariably to display the Tiltons’ pictures on the front page and frequently throughout as well.) But perhaps that is inevitable in a church conceived as an entrepreneurial enterprise- where would Mary Kay Cosmetics be without the name and visage of Mary Kay Ash? Word of Faith seems the most characteristic church possible for a city like Dallas, where the lines between religion and commerce are in constant danger of blurring.

WORD OF FAITH may be the stereotype of religious Dallas in 1985, but there are plenty of interesting alternatives going on-many in denominational churches that don’t get much in the way of press or publicity but are newsworthy enough in their own way.

Perhaps the oldest church in Dallas-founded in 1846, 10 years before the incorporation of the city of Dallas itself-is the First United Methodist Church. First Methodist gets less attention than First Baptist, its neighbor a few blocks away, but it is just as remarkable in its ability to thrive in a hostile downtown environment. The Sixties were hard on almost all churches, but especially mainline churches like the Methodist and churches in center cities. There was a disenchantment with institutional religion, so a lot of younger people began sliding away. Later came the energy crisis, which left many reluctant to drive great distances to a centralized church location.

When the present pastor of First Methodist, Walker Railey, assumed that position in 1980, the church had lost members for 16 years in a row. Since then, it has managed to turn the downtown decline around. Railey ascribes part of the recovery to the general resurgence in religious interest among the Baby Boomers. “The 30 to 50 age group,” he says, “has a new interest in church and in particular the institutional church. The social involvement of the churches in the Sixties got so radical that churches forgot their basic mission. Then in the Seventies religion got too introspective and personal-a reflection of the Me Generation. I think in the Eighties we are beginning to see a swing toward the middle. A lot of people who left are beginning to tiptoe into the back of the church.”

Railey is consciously trying to meet the challenges posed by the flight from the mainline churches. “The tendency to leave the mainline churches seems to me a clearly articulated statement that the mainline churches have not been feeding people-they weren’t being taught the Bible or theology; the worship was not exciting.”

First Methodist of Dallas has been trying to rectify this situation-and trying all the harder, since it realizes that most people who attend on Sundays (they come from almost every zip code in the city) pass the doors of two or three United Methodist churches alone on their way downtown. It attracts them with a cosmopolitan congregation, a comprehensive all-day Sunday program (complete with a children’s theater and television workshop and lunch served to 700) alongside the more common Bible studies and, like so many other large churches trying to build cohesion, even sporadic “zip code” parties to draw people who live near one another together. First Methodist also promotes a conscious sense of itself as a downtown church-Railey is a member of the Central Business District Association and is very vocal on social issues. The church had the first downtown day care center of any sort and attracts people during the week with artsy programs called “Bach’s Lunch.”

First Methodist’s annual budget in the last five years has tripled from $600,000 a year to $1.8 million. The size of the staff has tripled, too, with 20 full-time professionals holding at least master’s degrees and 40 more staff members of various kinds ranging from day care helpers to maintenance workers. Railey sees the growth of his church as a sign of a resurgence not just in one downtown congregation but of a more general renewal of trust in institutional Christianity.

But he believes there is a danger that comes if a resurgence of institutional Christianity comes only among the young and successful. “The main danger is that success becomes your religion. In a highly competitive, success-oriented society like ours, we are always in competition with people who think that success is a measure of their lives. But not everybody in Dallas is a success, not everybody in Dallas is beautiful, not everybody has attained all these goals. Religious people cannot forget those who haven’t-it would absolutely be a sin to do so.

“Somebody has to care for the unsuccessful in a successful city-the old, the unemployed, the minority teenagers, the single parents, the large number of children born and reared in the streets,” Railey says. “The churches are already the primary providers of food and nutrition for many of the homeless in Dallas. I wish we could do more. It’s a sticky issue, because we are not strong enough financially to go into the wholesale housing market, for instance. We can’t do that on our own. But we can be a voice that works along with government to speak up for these people. The church is not just a social agency, but it should be at least that. But we have found very few clergy who would step out and take a stand.”

Many of the churches in mainline denominations in Dallas-largely fed by seminaries with a liberal orientation like Perkins at SMU-have faces far different from the stereotype of the conservative Dallas civic religion. That might be expected since the conservative evangelical churches are always charging that the mainline churches have sold out to liberalism. But many of the churches of a more evangelical or even fundamentalist stripe-however conservative they might be in their official theology, and however politically conservative their members-do not conform to the stereotype of the Dallas civic religion that mixes money and religion indiscriminately. Many, for instance, have little truck with the prosperity gospel.

One who does not is Roger McDonald, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Garland. He says, “I think the gospel of the Son of God has got to be able to reach an Ethiopian in the midst of starvation as well as a rich Republican in Dallas.” McDonald-a warm, approachable man in his 50s who would rather have his congregation call him by his first name than by a title-spends too much of his time counseling and comforting the suffering, the dying, the ill, the bereaved, to put much faith in a candy-coated prosperity gospel.

IF THERE IS such a thing as a typical church in this part of the world, it might well be First Baptist of Garland. It would be the largest church in several states, but First Baptist of Garland is only the eighth largest Baptist church in Dallas County. It embodies many of the paradoxes of the Baptist experience in urban Texas.

A hundred years ago, Baptist churches were quintessentially rural and predominantly small. Such intimate Baptist congregations still have their appeal, as witness the existence of over 400 Baptist churches in the Dallas area today. But Baptists no longer suffer from the stigma of being country cousins; their churches have long ago moved to positions of prestige and power, as the prominence of First Baptist of Dallas, Park Cities Baptist and Prestonwood Baptist attest.

First Baptist of Garland straddles several of these categories-it’s neither a big, rich city Baptist Church nor a small, poor country Baptist Church. Organized on March 8, 1868, in a log cabin in Garland with 16 people, it stayed essentially a small rural church until the town started to grow in the Forties. In 1946 Garland had 8,000 to 10,000 people, and the church had about 400. In the Fifties, both Garland and its First Baptist Church boomed. But as Garland continued to mushroom, the church leveled off in the Sixties and early Seventies, much as First Methodist of Dallas did. Roger McDonald came to the church in 1975 and began to move it forward again.

First Baptist of Garland is a big church, but its situation in an unpretentious suburb keeps it from feeling too slick, too neo-Baptist. Granted, it is a Yuppyish church for Garland, certainly the most affluent Baptist church in town, and its music program, run by Duane Blakley, is intellectually ambitious enough to include joint performances with the Garland Symphony. But it has kept the best of the old Baptist virtues of warmth and friendliness and dead seriousness about the basics of Christianity-to wit, evangelization and, in Baptist parlance, soul-winning.

First Baptist of Garland has 3,200 people on the membership rolls and 4,200 enrolled in Sunday school. The average Sunday morning attendance is 1,452; about 600 people also show up on Sunday evenings and on Wednesday evenings. The oldest building, a small educational unit, dates back to 1946; the sanctuary, which in its dignified brick way looks like a Baptist church ought to look, was built in 1953 and has since been modified. Further educational buildings were constructed in 1957 and 1963, and the big building program in 1979 resulted in another educational unit, comfortable administrative offices and a chapel.

For those who are curious about where all the money donated to churches in the Dallas area ends up, First Baptist of Garland provides a model breakdown. The church has 105,000 square feet of space and parking for 650 cars. It owes about $2 million ($700,000 for parking lots). Of its annual budget of $2.1 million, 24 percent is spent on debt retirement and 15 percent on keeping the buildings going. Paying the staff of 75 employees, 45 of whom are full time, takes another 35 percent of the budget. Various programs (Sunday school, youth, music, etc.) consume another 15 percent and 12 percent goes to missions and other causes outside the congregation itself. As in most churches, the principle of tithing is taught, but the most committed 20 percent of the congregation provides at least 80 percent of the money needed to run the place.

Statistics, though, tell much less about First Baptist of Garland than do the seriousness and fervor of its staff members. They are working hard at what their Roman Catholic cousins would call aggiornamento- making that old-time religion accessible and comprehensible to modern people. The youth minister, Jerry Solomon, took that job earlier this year after a stint as a member of PROBE Ministries, the conservative evangelical Christian think tank based in Dallas. He says that the young people at the church “are hungry for things deeper than we ever thought they wanted-apologetics, serious exegesis of scripture, discussion of cultural issues. They have to deal with these issues all the time, at school and wherever, so we have to teach them how.”

One unusual approach to giving people tools for living their religion can be seen in the title of one of the younger staff members at First Baptist Garland, John Kramp, the associate pastor for Discipleship Ministries. Kramp is engaged in setting up an innovative program to train lay leaders within the church. “I think most people trying to measure success and growth within churches are keeping score on the wrong things,” Kramp says. “For myself, I’m no longer satisfied with those kind of statistics-how many people you’ve gained because someone has transferred membership from one church to another. I want to find a way to measure how much people are changed deep inside.”

Kramp is interested in the ferment he sees taking place in churches, but he is not quite ready to commit himself as to what it all means. When he thinks in terms of revival, he thinks of great historical movements like the Great Awakening in the 18th Century, and he doesn’t see much evidence of anything like that going on right now, in Dallas or any other city. He thinks he knows what it would take, though. “The way we can effect evangelism is if we can have non-Christians seeing us loving one another. That’s the best way to witness.”

IF BAPTISTS HAVE achieved denominational respectability (and then some) in Dallas over the last 100 years, Roman Catholics have done so only in the last couple of decades. They have grown in visibility and affluence as well as in numbers, and nowhere is this more apparent than at All Saints Catholic Church parish in far north Dallas. That much of this change has been brought about by immigration into the city is obvious from listening to people talk at All Saints, where the accents come from all over the country and all over the world.

Rumored to be the richest Catholic parish in Texas, All Saints looks a bit like a younger sibling to Prestonwood Baptist Church, a few blocks to the east on Arapaho. Both churches have built sanctuaries that back onto the corners of their blocks and have attached taller education buildings to the main church. The smaller All Saints facility is runty looking compared to the hulking Prestonwood, but in this case, size is misleading. The Catholic parish has 5,010 adult members (not counting adolescents, which Preston-wood’s membership rolls include), and average attendance at Sunday mass tops 4,500, compared with the 4,000 who usually attend Prestonwood’s Sunday services. All Saints can afford to have a smaller building because its attendance is spread out over seven services rather than two.

All Saints was founded as a spin-off from St. Rita’s, St. Mark’s and St. Paul’s parishes in 1976 with only 400 families. Its pastor is Monsignor Raphael Kamel, the Chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas (one of the two highest church offices next to the bishop), and the parish is colored by his warmth and tolerance. The congregation moved into its finished church building in the fall of 1979 and completed the family center (with classrooms, social rooms, offices, library and gymnasium) in late 1984. The building reflects a host of changes that have taken place in the Catholic church in Dallas in the decades since the sweeping reforms brought about by Vatican II.

The fan-shaped sanctuary of All Saints, where the congregation sits in semicircles around the altar; the architectural design with its massive but homey wooden rafters and its earthtone decorative touches (you almost expect a woodburning fireplace); the lay involvement in ceremonial details like reading scripture and serving communion, all reflect a shift from emphasizing the unap-proachability of the sacred (with the priest at a golden altar, cut off from the faithful by a metal or marble fence) to downplaying hierarchical distinctions and emphasizing the unity of the body of believers. Catholics still have a long way to go, though, before they will equal the buttonholing conviviality that comes so naturally to the Baptists down the block; when the parishioners at All Saints are asked to introduce themselves to those in the pews around them, many would clearly rather be chewing ground glass. But the liturgy at All Saints does have warmth and communal intensity you don’t find at many Catholic parishes.

If Catholics haven’t learned to gladhand like the Protestants, they have grown more like them in other ways. Catholics once raised money mostly to build churches and schools. Now many parishes, like All Saints, don’t keep schools. They provide religious education on Sundays, just like Protestant churches. All Saints has almost 12,000 children middle school age and under enrolled in 75 classes. Adult Catholics haven’t been persuaded to indulge in continuing religious education and discussion on anything like the scale Protestants do in their Sunday schools, but there are gropings in that direction, with some classes provided on Sundays and on weeknights.

Now much of All Saints’ annual budget ($1.6 million here) goes for salaries. The church employs 24 people full time and another 20 to 25 part time, not counting the three priests. Many of these employees are involved, just like their Protestant counter-parts, in recruiting and training volunteers. In the last 20 years lay Catholics have learned to give much more of their time to the church than they did formerly, and probably more of their money, too. One pastor of a Catholic parish in town has a bumper sticker on display in his office: “If you love Jesus, don’t honk-TITHE.” The Catholics certainly learned tithing from the Baptists. Catholics once joked about the frequency with which priests exhorted them to donate; now, the priests tend to preach about money only once a year at pledge time-or they leave that to the chairmen of their well-organized financial committees.

All Saints encourages a broad range of styles in spirituality. Every day a group stays after the 9 a.m. mass to say the rosary together in a display of old-fashioned Marian devotion. On the other hand, there is a popular Bible study program on Thursday evenings, run largely by parish members involved in the Catholic charismatic renewal. Some of the same people show up at the rosary and at the Bible study, another sign of walls breaking down within the church. In Dallas these days, Catholics are pretty much like the rest of the Christians. They come in every conceivable flavor. You can find priests with important institutional responsibilities mumbling about an American Catholic church that ought to declare its independence from the pope, and you can find laymen who tote around Bibles and say “Praise the Lord” a lot. Their religious identities depend less on their denominational label than on their other attitudes and beliefs.

Christianity in Dallas, 1985, does fit some of the stereotypes. On the whole, it is conservative (the 200,000 Baptists alone would see to that); it wields a certain amount of civic power; it spends a large amount of money. But it goes beyond the stereotypes too. It is unimaginably diverse and multiform, so that no single characterization can fit it. And within that diversity, there is an attention to the basics of the faith-worship and good works, evangelizing converts and reaching out to try to find common ground among those of different denominations and even between the churched and unchurched-that belies the idea of Dallas religion as merely a hotbed for right-wing religionists and the satisfied successful.