Stop dressing so tacky for church
Remember when people used to dress up for church? Casual Friday has now morphed into Sloppy Sabbath.
April 19th, 2014
08:00 PM ET

Stop dressing so tacky for church

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - If the Rev. John DeBonville could preach a sermon to lift the souls of churchgoers across America, his message would be simple:

Stop dressing so tacky for church.

DeBonville has heard about the “come as you are” approach to dressing down for Sunday service, but he says the Sabbath is getting too sloppy.

When he scans the pews of churches, DeBonville sees rows of people dressed in their Sunday worst. They saunter into church in baggy shorts, flip-flop sandals, tennis shoes and grubby T-shirts. Some even slide into the pews carrying coffee in plastic foam containers as if they’re going to Starbucks.

“It’s like some people decided to stop mowing the lawn and then decided to come to church,” says DeBonville, rector at the Church of the Good Shepard in Massachusetts. “No one dresses up for church anymore.”

Church leaders like DeBonville have harrumphed about declining dress standards for Sunday service for years, while others say God only cares what’s in someone’s heart.

But which side is right? What does the Bible actually say about dressing properly for church? And does Jesus provide fashion advice anywhere? Wasn’t he a homeless, Galilean peasant who wore flip-flops?

The answers to these questions are not as easy as they may seem. The Bible sends mixed messages about the concept of wearing your Sunday best. And when pastors, parishioners and religious scholars were asked the same questions, they couldn’t agree, either.

Wearing ties on first dates

There was one point on which both sides did agree: People are dressing sloppier everywhere, not just church.

Take a trek to the supermarket on Saturday morning and you’re bound to run into a sleepy-eyed woman in slippers and rollers at the checkout counter.

Pajamas in public: The battle of 'appropriate' vs. 'comfy'

Or take a walk outside and you’ll be greeted by teenagers slouching around with their jeans sagging over the butt-cheeks.

Even corporate America isn’t immune. Casual Fridays has morphed into casual every day and even tech tycoons like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wear bland T-shirts during public presentations.

It’s a sharp departure from another era in America before the 1960s, when people wore suits, dresses and white gloves in public.

The Rev. Gerald Durley, a sharp-dressed civil rights activist in Atlanta, recalls taking his future wife, Muriel, on their first date. When he showed up at her house, her father opened the door, looked at him, and took him aside gravely, “Young man can I talk to you for a minute.”

“He told me, 'If you’re going to take my daughter out, you can wear one of my ties,'” says Durley, a retired Baptist pastor.

Jennifer Fulwiler, who wrote an article for the National Catholic Register titled, “Why Don’t We Dress up Anymore,” says her great-grandfather would put on a coat and tie just to go grocery shopping.

The reasons why people stopped dressing up could fill a book. Yet Fulwiler offers one explanation that’s seldom mentioned – lack of gratitude.

Fulwiler’s revelation came one day as she watched scruffily dressed people board a plane. She flashed back to a black-and-white photo she had seen of her grandparents boarding a plane in the 1940s. Most of the passengers were dressed in suits and ties and dresses because air travel was such a privilege at the time.

“We dress up for what we’re grateful for,” she says. “We’re such a wealthy, spoiled culture that we feel like we have a right to fly on airplanes,” says Fulwiler, author of “Something Other than God,” which details her journey from atheism to Christianity.

Church is like air travel now – it’s no longer a big deal because people have lost their sense of awe before God, Fulwiler says.

Yet some of these same people who say it doesn’t matter how you dress for church would change their tune if they were invited to another event, Fulwiler says.

“If you had the opportunity to meet the Queen of England, you wouldn’t show up in at Windsor Castle wearing jeans and a T-shirt,” she says.

The church customer is always king

Shouldn’t people have that same reverential attitude when they show up at church to meet God, some ask? After all, doesn’t your dress reveal the importance you attach to an occasion?

Just what do you mean, 'dress festively'?

That sentiment, however, is seen as hopelessly old school in many popular megachurches across America. Casual Fridays has morphed into casual Sundays.

And many of the popular megachurch pastors are middle-aged men who bound onto the stage each Sunday dressed in skinny jeans, untucked Banana Republic shirts, and backed by in-house Christian rock bands. They’ve perfected a “seeker-friendly” approach to church that gets rid of the old formal worship style with its stuffy dress codes.

But there’s a danger in making people too comfortable in their clothes on Sunday morning, says Constance M. Cherry, an international lecturer on worship and a hymn writer.

Some churches have embraced a business-oriented “the customer is always right” approach to worship that places individual comfort at the center of Sunday service, says Cherry, author of“Worship Architect: A Blueprint for Designing Culturally Relevant and Biblically Faithful Services.”

“Many young people and boomers judge the value of worship service based on personal satisfaction,” Cherry says. “If I get to wear flip-flops to Wal-Mart, then I get to wear flip-flops to church. If I get to carry coffee to work, I get to carry coffee to church. They’re being told that come as you are means that God wants you to be comfortable.”

What the Bible says

The Bible says that’s not true – people had to prepare themselves internally and externally for worship.

In the Old Testament, Jewish people didn’t just “come as they are” to the temple in Jerusalem. They had to undergo purification rituals and bathe in pools before they could enter the temple, says Cherry, who is also a professor of worship at Indiana Wesleyan University.

Both Old and New Testaments suggest that people should not approach God in a casual manner, Cherry says. Psalms 24 urges the faithful to “ascend the hill of the Lord …with clean hands and pure hearts.”

When Jesus taught in the synagogues, he also observed the rules and decorum of being in God’s house, Cherry says.

Cherry isn’t calling for a restoration of first-century cultural norms, such as women covering their hair in worship, or a rigid dress code. She says churches should meet people where they are, and make even the poorest person feel welcome.

She just says that preparation for worship should give less thought to people and more thought to the divine.

“There should be some sort of approach to God that will include certain steps to honor the God that is not our buddy but fully The Other,” she says.

Others back up Cherry’s call to keep the Sabbath special. Dressing up really makes a difference on Sunday, they say.

“It puts you in a different mindset,” says Tiffany Adams, a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who grew up wearing jeans in church. “It actually sets the Sabbath apart from every other day.”

And there are still pockets of church culture where no one has to persuade people to look sharp on Sunday.

The African-American church is one such place. Many of its members still insist on dressing up on Sunday because of the historical struggles of blacks. Sunday morning was often the only time in the week that a black person could assert their dignity, says Durley, the Atlanta civil rights activist who also is a retired Baptist pastor.

“On Sunday morning, when you put on your tie, your shirt and put your palms together and slicked down your hair, you were no longer the hired help, you were a trustee, a deacon or you chaired this board and you dressed accordingly,” Durley says.

What would Jesus wear?

There are others, though, who say God cares more about the person’s soul than their style. No one wears a bracelet today asking, “What would Jesus wear.” Clothes just weren’t important to Jesus or the early church, they claim.

The early church was anti-hierarchical and adopted a “come as you are” approach to worship, welcoming outcasts and the disenfranchised who often couldn’t dress in fine clothes, says Carl Raschke, a religious studies professor at the University of Denver.

Raschke cites Mark 12:38, where Jesus mocks the fine clothes worn by the Pharisees, a group of elite Jewish religious leaders of his day.

Others cite James 2:2-4, where the writer of the New Testament book criticizes early Christians for discriminating against poor people visiting the church in dirty clothes and favoring the man “wearing a gold ring and fine clothes.”

“Adopting a dress code would not only be suicidal for American Christians who are swimming against the stream of casual secularism, it would be antithetical to what Christianity sees increasingly as its abiding mission – to reach those who are marginalized and ‘don’t fit in,’ ‘’ Raschke says.

Some people, though, remain convinced that casual Sundays are getting too sloppy.

“The casualness of Sunday church attire has gone too far,” says DeBonville, the pastor of the Massachusetts church. “It’s about respect and honoring God.”

When DeBonville looks across the scruffy fashion landscape of America, he sees only one profession that’s holding the line against tacky dress.

It’s not the preachers or priests, though. These people belong to another profession whose members aren’t exactly known for respect and honoring God.

“The last ones wearing shirt and ties are the politicians,” DeBonville says.

Easter is supposed to be about the renewal of hope, but when asked if the spread of sloppy Sabbath can get any worse, DeBonville sounds gloomy. Yoga pants in the pews, pajamas near the altar – will everyone soon start showing up at church dressed like “the Dude” in the film, “The Big Lebowski.”

Nothing would surprise DeBonville anymore.

“There’s growing casualness everywhere,” he says. “I don’t know if it can get much worse.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Church • Easter

soundoff (1,006 Responses)
  1. imuneekru

    I disagree with what the author is saying. I don't think it was ever important in a spiritual sense to dress up for church.

    Dressing up for Easter is an American (mostly Southern) cultural tradition, not a spiritual one. The core Christian Easter traditions included "breaking bread" (communion) and remembering Christ's resurrection–and, if you came from a Jewish background, celebrating a Messianic Passover. Dressing up never came into the Biblical Easter–or any church experience, for that matter.

    Dressing up in the early Americas was a Sunday tradition simply because it was the main occasion where everyone in town would see you socially. You put aside your work clothes and got fancied up and hopefully some nice young man might turn his head and come a-courting. That is all.

    If it's "tacky" to wear jeans and flip-flops, that is a fashion statement, not a spiritual one.

    April 20, 2014 at 8:10 am |
  2. jkupthoughts

    Where does dressing nice to show respect and pride over dressing better than your neighbor? This is a question I have often wrestled with when I see folks show up for church in $1000 suits and women who spent hours on their hair and makeup.

    April 20, 2014 at 8:10 am |
  3. jonasmcgreggor

    I would have thought that religious people would be happy that anyone at all is still showing up at church.

    April 20, 2014 at 8:08 am |
  4. igaftr

    This is very simple. Clothing is the exterior...nothing but cosmetics.
    Anyone concerned about fashion or what someone is wearing is concerned about something that dos not matter even slightly.
    If all of he people showed up wearing absolutely nothing, would it change the message? Would it mean the people were somehow less?
    Fashion is superficial and completely meaningless. There are many parts of the world where they wear very little clothing, does that make them less than one who wears a full suit?

    April 20, 2014 at 8:03 am |
  5. adamjread

    The culture of the ancient Jews was an extremely high-stress society, and this deity is merely a pendulum swing away from what his true personality is. He feels terrified, lonely, worthless, and depressed, and is trying to compensate by putting on a power suit. This is the very image of who Moses felt like as a child.

    Moses took the earlier writings of Job and mixed in the image of his primary male role model....Pharaoh...whose house he grew up in. When you mix those two together and lace in the story of the Flood, you have the image of an all powerful deity. The problem is that a deity that has a hyper-focus on proving how powerful he is will automatically scare the hell out of its followers, and if you look for high-stress markers of these people in the Text, you will find them on nearly every page.

    The "straight and narrow" is one effect of this fear, and the obsessive/compulsive cleaning rituals are another. When people are condemned for being "unclean," it naturally points people in the direction of looking perfect on the outside, which give us the "cleanliness is next to godliness" mantra. Being perfectly clean, quiet, orderly, and submissive, certainly in combination, are a textbook expression of fear.

    It follows, then, that the more people are afraid, the more perfect they will try to look on the outside. This down-dressing trend, then, is the artistic expression of the fact that this alleged deity is becoming less and less impressive, certainly in the face of scientific discoveries. If he was all-knowing, he should have easily been able to point to later discoveries and he should have been able to teach his "kids" how to actually survive in the desert rather than expect miraculous handouts.

    April 20, 2014 at 7:50 am |
  6. John M. Campopiano

    Jesus never had a tie on and wore a robe. His shoes made Payless look like Michael Koors. With the way catholicism has been throughout the years, any parish is lucky enough to seat someone in their pews. Catholicism is all about guilt and the notion of wrapping one's mind around how someone died thousands of years ago to save us. I am a believer in God, but the Christians are too much with their guilt and mysticism.

    April 20, 2014 at 7:50 am |
  7. Joeseph Eclaire

    I understand the need to reach out those on their level as some have already pointed out.
    But after that you come to church dressed appropriately.
    Shamefully the dress code has affected all walks and even professions.

    You can see it even in how most company CEO's are dress in a casual sports jacket and no tie as if to signify to the younger generations we are hip therefore spend your money with us.

    Ever been to Las Vegas ? There was a time when a man and woman dressed up for the nightly shows.
    Now the fat Canadians and Americans show up in Bermuda shorts after they dump their kids off behind the slots somewhere.

    Point is it's progression American style.
    The dress code is just following in line of the other distortions going on in American society.

    April 20, 2014 at 7:49 am |
  8. ausphor

    Didn't care too much for the article, too long, too boring. But I loved the picture, all those beautiful EMPTY pews.

    April 20, 2014 at 7:42 am |
    • ssq41


      April 20, 2014 at 7:44 am |
    • dustieryder111

      no class,no respect...for themselves,nor anyone else. who wants to see your nasty feet in dirty flip flops. i see people come into my business looking like they live in a dump....

      April 20, 2014 at 7:52 am |
      • saggyroy

        Maybe the priest should wash his dirty feet.

        April 20, 2014 at 7:57 am |
        • nepawoods

          Priest in my neighborhood just got arrested. Young girls' feet fetish, along with strangulation and chloroforming p0rn fetish. Not actually relevant, but couldn't help making the association.

          April 20, 2014 at 8:13 am |
      • ausphor

        Foot fetishes are quite acceptable and can be done in public, some other practices have to covered up, carry on.

        April 20, 2014 at 8:00 am |
      • ssq41

        if they're paying customers why the hell do you care? Stupid Foxnews capitalists.

        April 20, 2014 at 8:03 am |
      • TruthPrevails1

        Gee maybe if employers paid people better instead of hoarding, you wouldn't see people dressing the way they can afford to. Judge not lest ye be judged!

        April 20, 2014 at 8:23 am |
      • Akira

        Do you refuse their money because of your principles? Bet you don't.

        April 20, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
  9. nipseymc

    Considering that Jesus was a champion of the poor and downtrodden, and that material wealth and nice things should not be a priority and life according to the Bible, people should be able to come to church wearing what they darn well please. What if a homeless person's Sunday best is comprised of a t-shirt and tattered pants they haven't changed in years? Do you honestly think that some almighty being in the sky is going to say, "Hey you! I can't possible take your reverence seriously because you're not wearing as nice of clothes as the other people in this building." What a joke. By the way, if you believe the story of Adam and Eve, they were NAKED! You should be able to come to church with a fig leaf if you please. The author is a hypocrite. Big surprise right; a Christian being hypocritical...

    April 20, 2014 at 7:41 am |
  10. Larry Hines

    It's all about reaching out to the unchurched. That's why we do what we do in the Christian church nowadays. WE have to evangelize the world and we must reach people on their own level. The whole dress down idea is to let others know God accepts you just like you are. "Come as you are" is the new approach to church. We are only attempting to break down barriers between us and the the unchurched.

    April 20, 2014 at 7:37 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      "WE have to evangelize the world"

      No...no you don't. Do whatever you wish for yourself but leave other people alone to decide for themselves. The way I see it your evangelizing equates to spreading a communicable disease. People like me offer only a vaccine.

      April 20, 2014 at 7:56 am |
      • ssq41

        ..."offer a vaccine..."

        Well put, Steve. I like that analogy.

        April 20, 2014 at 7:59 am |
        • AtheistSteve

          Yes preventative medicine, not a cure. For many the case is sadly terminal.

          April 20, 2014 at 8:07 am |
  11. Reality

    Sloppy? Yes indeed just like the history and theology of Christianity and all religions in general.

    April 20, 2014 at 7:28 am |
  12. colin31714

    I stopped dressing for church. In fact, I stopped going to church and stopped believing in God. It wasn’t a snap decision, it was a process. The problem was, every time I asked a hard question, I got no satisfactory answer that was not just some retreat to mysticism, such as “God moves in mysterious ways,” or “your mind is too small to know God’s intentions.”

    So, this Easter Sunday I will be at home sharing time with my family, not wasting an hour pretending to believe something I don’t because I feel social and family pressure not to voice my doubts. Here’s why.

    At its most fundamental level, Christianity requires a belief that an all-knowing, all-powerful, immortal being created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies 13,720,000,000 years ago (the approximate age of the current iteration of the Universe) sat back and waited 10,000,000,000 years for the Earth to form, then waited another 3,720,000,000 years for human beings to gradually evolve, then, at some point in our evolution from Hom.o Erectus, gave us eternal life and a soul, and about 180,000 years later, sent its son to Earth to talk about sheep and goats in the Middle East.

    While here, this divine visitor exhibits no knowledge of ANYTHING outside of the Greco-Roman Middle East, including Australia, North and South America, Europe, Asia, 99% of the human race, and the aforementioned galaxies. One would have thought that a visitor from the creator of the Universe would visit (or at least mention) the millions upon millions of Chinese and other Asians, all the people spread throughout North, Central and South America, the Australian Aboriginals, the ancient Europeans or the Sub-Saharan Africans. Instead, his entire visit and his entire Holy Book, the Bible, is 100% concentrated on the Jews. It seems obvious to any thinking person that the Jews made God in their image and not vice-versa.

    This ‘all loving’ god spends his time running the Universe and observing the approximately 7 billion human beings on planet Earth, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He even reads their minds (or “hears their prayers”, if you see any difference) using some kind of magic/divine telepathic powers. He also keeps his telepathic eye on them when they are not praying, so as to know if they think bad thoughts (such as coveting their neighbor) so he knows whether to reward or punish them after they die.

    Having withheld any evidence of his existence, this god will then punish those who doubt him with an eternity burning in hell. I don’t have to kill, I don’t have to steal, I don’t even have to litter. All I have to do is harbor an honest, reasonable and rational disbelieve in the Christian god and he will inflict a grotesque penalty on me a billion times worse than the death penalty – and he loves me.

    The above beliefs are based on nothing more than a collection of Bronze Age and Greco-Roman Middle Eastern mythology, much of it discredited, that was cobbled together into a book called the “Bible” by people we know virtually nothing about, before the Dark Ages. I mean, let me ask a believer this. Do you even have the slightest damn idea who any of the 100+ authors of the Bible were? Do you have any idea who complied it? Who decided what Bronze Age Jewish writings to include and what to exclude and the criteria they used?

    The stories of Christianity are not even original. They are borrowed directly from earlier mythology from the Middle East. Genesis and Exodus, for example, are clearly based on earlier Babylonian myths such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Jesus story itself is straight from the stories about Apollonius of Tyana, Horus and Dionysus (including virgin birth, the three wise men, the star in the East, birth at the Winter solstice, a baptism by another prophet, turning water into wine, crucifixion and rising from the dead).

    The Bible is also literally infested with contradictions, outdated morality, and open support for the most barbarous acts of cruelty – including, genocide, murder, slavery, r.ape and the complete subjugation of women. All of this is due to when and where it was written, the morality of the times and the motives of its authors and compilers. While this may be exculpatory from a literary point of view, it also screams out the fact that it is a pure product of man, bereft of any divine inspiration.

    A rejection of the supernatural elements of Christianity does not require a rejection of its morality. Most atheists and secular humanists share a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent we reject Christian morality, it is where it is outdated or mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, our basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Christian. We just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over our head in order to act in a manner that we consider moral.

    Falsely linking morality to a belief in the supernatural is a time-tested “three card trick” religion uses to stop its adherents from asking the hard questions. So is telling them it is “wrong to doubt.” This is probably why there is not one passage in the Bible in support of intelligence and healthy skepticism, but literally hundreds in support of blind acceptance and blatant gullibility.

    We have no idea of who wrote the four Gospels, how credible or trustworthy they were, what ulterior motives they had (other than to promote their religion) or what they based their views on. We know that the traditional story of it being Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is almost certainly wrong. For example, the Gospel of Matthew includes a scene in which Jesus meets Matthew, recounted entirely in the third person!! Nevertheless, we are called upon to accept the most extraordinary claims by these unknown people, who wrote between 35 to 65 years after Christ died and do not even claim to have been witnesses. It is like taking the word of an unknown Branch Davidian about what happened to David Koresh at Waco – who wrote 35 years after the fact and wasn’t there.

    When backed into a corner, Christianity admits it requires a “leap of faith” to believe it. This is probably the mother of all understatements. In any event, once one accepts that pure faith is a legitimate reason to believe in something (which it most certainly is not, any more than “faith” that pixies exist is) one has to accept all other gods based on exactly the same reasoning. One cannot be a Christian based on the “leap of faith” – and then turn around and say those who believe in, for example, the Hindu gods, based on the same leap, got it wrong. In a dark room without features, any guess by a blind man at the direction of the door is as valid as the other 359 degrees.

    Geography and birthplace dictates what god(s) one believes in. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own gods and they all seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams, and prejudices. Do you think they all exist? If not, why only yours?

    The entire Christian faith is not a belief in a god. It is a mere hope for a god, or, even more accurately, a simple wish for a god, no more substantial than the hope for a good future and no more universal than the language you speak or the baseball team you support.

    April 20, 2014 at 7:28 am |
    • Joeseph Eclaire

      Lol !
      Yeah, you may have believed (which I sincerely doubt) at one time but you sure as h-ll never understood. Now you write some 3 page monolog as if it lends any credibility to your new non-belief.

      Good luck on you new found vision quest over at infowars and Reddit.

      April 20, 2014 at 7:57 am |
      • colin31714

        And what is it that you understand that I don't?

        April 20, 2014 at 8:15 am |
      • G to the T

        "Yeah, you may have believed (which I sincerely doubt)"

        Questioning the sincerity of one's beliefs (past or present) is just about as disrespectful as you can be.

        April 20, 2014 at 8:18 am |
      • ssq41

        Hey, Eclaire: I think they classify your problem as "cognitive dissonance."

        April 20, 2014 at 8:21 am |
      • AtheistSteve

        That's very presumptuous of you. How do you know what the depth of colins former belief was? Why do people like you think that having a belief in god means it is impossible to later reject that idea? I was raised in the Catholic tradition. I believed just like many in my family still do. Now I don't. Why? Because everything that Christianity is based on requires accepting things that are by definition impossible. Miracles, a virgin birth, a resurrected dead man...just to name but a few. These things can't happen so by natural extension they never happened. You might be able to suspend your disbelief in regard to these things but that says more about your reasoning and logic facilities than they likelihood that they are real.

        April 20, 2014 at 8:24 am |
    • dustieryder111

      you are long winded,if nothing more.

      April 20, 2014 at 8:00 am |
    • gmacgrl

      I think you understand the subject matter perfectly. Had the same thoughts for years, the 'explanations' just don't pacify me anymore..deep down I know that they never did! There is nothing rational or within reason to this belief system.

      April 20, 2014 at 8:33 am |
      • colin31714

        Thanks. I personally, am happy to be free of it. When you break out of it and look back, it is all just so, well, weird. Weird and pretty childish to be honest. We are that frightened of our own mortality that we create the most elaborate of stories to run away from it.

        April 20, 2014 at 8:36 am |
        • ssq41

          Thanks for all your posts, colin....and I wonder if the evolved "big brain" has led us too far astray with this need of believing such stories.

          April 20, 2014 at 8:40 am |
      • gmacgrl

        Also another thought.. I got lured into this baptist fundamentalist church around the age of 9, invited by a neighborhood 'friend'. The church had a dress code for girls.. not only for church but outside of church.. dresses, skirts only no pants. When I questioned the youth pastor why that mattered and why I could just wear dress slacks I was told the reason was that females always wore dresses and should continue to do so. I wondered why he was in a suit and not a robe... the first of many b.s. flags that popped into my mind. (oh and I know the theist answer to that one... that was 'satan' making me question the pastor and the church)

        April 20, 2014 at 8:43 am |
        • otoh2

          Did any of them ever take a gander at how King James dressed?!

          April 20, 2014 at 11:48 am |
    • ellabulldog

      think I agree with everything you said and usually say the same, and I don't understand how the majority of people don't see this either. It was funny when at Christmas someone didn't understand when the Mandarin teacher said they they don't have Christmas in China. Brainwashed folk only know what is around them and can't see the whole world and make up their mind for themselves.

      April 20, 2014 at 11:44 am |
  13. akronaut

    Starbucks doesn't use plastic foam containers. Ugh. Who wrote this garbage?

    April 20, 2014 at 7:18 am |
  14. hokiemas

    Someone needs to get off their high horse and stop judging. I'm fairly confident that the pastor would prefer a full house of "slobs" to 50% capacity or less wearing their Sunday best. God has more important things to worry about. The important thing is that people are participating and worshipping. Who cares what they wear?

    April 20, 2014 at 7:18 am |
    • lexingtonbobby

      Exactly! Somebody needs to read what Jesus said about the flowing robes, the external garments vs. what's important, inside.

      April 20, 2014 at 7:30 am |
  15. mikes605

    Clothing? Shouldn't one go to church naked, as God created us?

    April 20, 2014 at 7:09 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Or just wrap yourself in a sheet much like the garb Jesus is depicted in. Better yet don't bother wasting your time sitting in church listening to some talking head bloviate on the supposed merits of myth and superstition.

      April 20, 2014 at 7:36 am |
  16. alljazzhere

    If Jesus showed up to church today, he'd be turned away for looking too shabby.

    April 20, 2014 at 7:03 am |
    • saggyroy

      I was Catholic before I became an atheist. I studied the Catholic Bible, the history of the church, and its catechism. Upon visiting the Catholic Answers website, and see people argue about what kind of sins God hates most, and if you could wear shorts to church or not. These were the things that chipped away at my religiosity until I realized what a bunch of woo woo it all is.

      April 20, 2014 at 8:15 am |
      • saggyroy

        Sorry, meant this as a new post. MORE COFFEE!

        April 20, 2014 at 8:16 am |
  17. abaldwin2781

    personally, i believe this whole "i believe he died on the cross and rose from the dead 3 days later cuz he's the song of god" thing has gone too far

    April 20, 2014 at 7:00 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Christianity-the greatest con game ever...bilking people from their money and instilling fear.

      April 20, 2014 at 7:14 am |
      • jkflipflop

        It's the same BS that kidnappers tell the children they abduct to keep them obedient. Coincidence? I think not.

        April 20, 2014 at 7:19 am |
  18. eoyguy

    Who are you dressing up for? If your god that, you are taught to fear, is all seeing and all knowing, what does it matter what you wear? "He" sees you on the toilet, at the gym, and around the house. "He" would know what you are thinking and feeling, so if you are dressing up because someone else wants you to, isn't that just like going to church simply to "cover your bases", regardless if you believe or not? So be sure to go fear your god, but please be sure to do it well dressed! Roll eyes...

    April 20, 2014 at 6:57 am |
  19. pwramirez

    What's interesting to me is that the way people dress indicates the level of respect (or complete lack of) towards the person their honoring. The sloppier the dress, the less they respect the person.

    Case in point: Do a street poll and ask people "If you were invited to visit the president, how would you dress?" Then, ask random people on the street if they attend church and, if they do, ask them what the dress policy is. The answer might truly surprise you. People will dress up for a man, but for the creator of the universe they may lack complete and utter disrespect.

    I and everyone else in my congregation dress to honor the Creator... which is far more important to us than honoring an imperfect man. You will never see ANY of us in Hawaiian shirts, shorts and flip-flops for a meeting.

    April 20, 2014 at 6:54 am |
    • ssq41

      That your "creator" cares should be of great concern to you...or, better said, it speaks volumes about the kind of pointless person you are.

      April 20, 2014 at 6:57 am |
      • pwramirez

        The way you dress must make your mom real proud...

        April 20, 2014 at 7:23 am |
        • ssq41

          I attend the 1st Baptist Church In the Nude in Atlanta, Ga...so mom doesn't really have much to say.

          April 20, 2014 at 7:32 am |
      • pwramirez

        Again... mamma must be real proud of your idiocy and arrogance. Guess that's what happens when cousins marry.

        April 20, 2014 at 7:38 am |
        • ssq41

          At least my cousins have the love of Jesus in 'em and they know how to read and use a "Reply" button.

          April 20, 2014 at 7:48 am |
    • lean6

      What's always funny to me is seeing how so many of you believers don't believe that God truly knows your heart or the heart of others. If you think that God reads fashion statements alone as indicators of reverence, calculate how much time you've wasted going to church because you still don't get it. Church pastors have been using the same lies to explain driving around in luxury cars and buying luxury homes for many years...to "represent prosperity under God," meanwhile people in the congregation are unemployed or starving.

      April 20, 2014 at 7:10 am |
      • jkflipflop

        The entire time they're trumpeting "blessed be the poor! The poor will inherit the Earth from those wicked rich folks!" . . . then after preaching their BS and collecting tax-free income off the backs of the dumb and poor they hop in their $100K Benz and roll home to their $1M+ mansion.

        April 20, 2014 at 7:14 am |
    • pennyjig

      Actually, I disagree with this. My kids never dress up for church because (1) dress clothes are uncomfortable, and I'd rather have comfortable, happy, spiritually engaged children than unhappy ones, and (2) on the wages my husband and I make, we cannot afford dress clothes. We are a ministry family, and most of us do not dress up. We have all respect for God and for church, but we do not dress up.

      April 20, 2014 at 7:18 am |
      • incredulousmark

        My kids never got dragged to church at all. Lying to children is wrong.

        April 20, 2014 at 7:27 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Nor did my daughter...we knew that she needed to decide for herself.
          In penny's defense though, the fact that she is not judging based on how one dresses says a little something about her as a person.

          April 20, 2014 at 7:38 am |
      • TruthPrevails1

        Thank you for showing that judgement is not based on how a person dresses. Enjoy the day.

        April 20, 2014 at 7:28 am |
      • pwramirez

        So the question that begs asking: Would you and your family dress up to meet with the president of the United States?

        April 20, 2014 at 7:31 am |
        • ssq41

          The President serves the people, not vice versa. If one chooses to dress up so be it. The church shouldn't care about the dressing habits of its

          April 20, 2014 at 7:38 am |
        • ssq41

          ...of its visitors or congregants...that is.

          April 20, 2014 at 7:39 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          he president can be proven to exist, the god you worship-not so much!

          April 20, 2014 at 7:44 am |
    • jkflipflop

      Your unabashed simultaneous snobbery and ignorance epitomizes the church and why people don't like it nor you.

      April 20, 2014 at 7:22 am |
      • pwramirez

        Funny. You have no idea who I am, nor anything about my spirituality. Your bravado is based in ignorance, and it's people like you that have caused the downfall of western civilization.

        April 20, 2014 at 7:32 am |
        • midwest rail

          When did western civilization fall ?

          April 20, 2014 at 7:33 am |
        • sam stone

          i think you revealed quite a bit about your spirituality when you indicated how you dress with respect for god

          April 20, 2014 at 7:56 am |
        • sam stone

          equated, not indicated

          April 20, 2014 at 7:58 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      So a homeless person is rags shows up to attend church and you're going to turn them away?? How horrible of you to judge people based on dress and not on who they are as a person. You do a great deed for turning people away from the belief system. Maybe read what 'penny' said and take a lesson from a non-judgemental Christian lady...you could learn a valuable lesson from her.

      April 20, 2014 at 7:31 am |
      • pwramirez

        Always love how people put words in the mouths of others.

        I never said "If you can't dress up, don't come." I clearly stated that I dress for my spiritual meetings as befitting of the Person I am honoring. That simple. We never... REPEAT: NEVER... turn ANYONE away if they come dressed as they are. I am speaking to the long-standing members of a church that claims to represent a God they, apparently, don't know... or have ever known. THEY are the ones that lack respect, not the ones who are sighing and groaning over the detestable things of this system. They are, as Jesus put it, "... sheep without a shepherd."

        April 20, 2014 at 7:35 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          I always love how Christians think they have the right to tell others how to live. What person are you honoring??? God is not a person-god can't be proven to exist and thus does not merit the status of personhood. If this imaginary god you worship is such a shallow ass that it looks upon one for what they are wearing and you in turn do that, then neither of you are worthy of respect.
          Should you not be getting ready to go celebrate your Jewish Zombie friend? (You do know that it is not possible, not even for your imaginary Jewish Zombie friend jesus, to come back from the dead after 3 days-right?...or perhaps you simply don't care)

          April 20, 2014 at 7:42 am |
    • hokiemas

      The difference is that God is all knowing and Christians have accepted Him in their hearts. He knows the respect or lack of respect that each person has for Him. The President as a man doesn't know all, so we demonstrate respect by "dressing up." It's not that people respect God less and to think so is rather extreme IMO. If someone wants to go to church and do so sincerely, I really don't care what they wear.

      April 20, 2014 at 7:31 am |
      • pwramirez

        Nice justification. Wrong. But nice.

        April 20, 2014 at 7:37 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Oh now, there's another judgement call-you Christians are such hypocritical little monsters-keep it up, we appreciate you turning people away!

          April 20, 2014 at 7:43 am |
        • sam stone

          pwramiez: you are a pompous d-bag. you call others arrogant?

          April 20, 2014 at 8:04 am |
    • sam stone

      Interesting that you feel that your god is so petty that he would care what his children are wearing.

      April 20, 2014 at 7:49 am |
    • ausphor

      Let me also add my voice to those that have already stated that you come across as a judgemental twit and prig that looks down his/her nose that do not meet your standards, not Jesus' standards but yours. Back in the day Jesus was more than likely a very grubby poorly clothed hustler of the sheep.

      April 20, 2014 at 8:22 am |
      • ausphor

        nose at those....

        April 20, 2014 at 8:22 am |
  20. lean6

    I remember the day that I stopped going to church about 20 years ago. It was after experiencing a moment much like the one I had after reading this misguided piece of personal filth article. Aside from vulgar or offensive garments, if you encounter anyone who is complaining about what you're wearing to church, and that person is not simultaneously handing you new suit or a credit card to go shopping, you're probably in the presence of evil or one confused and selfish person. I found too many such people seem to like vocal positions within churches. How such people can be allowed to represent God became more of my question about church and religion than anything. My relationship with the church all fell apart from there.

    April 20, 2014 at 6:49 am |
    • ssq41


      April 20, 2014 at 6:57 am |
    • jkflipflop

      If God is all powerful and all knowing, why do you have to go to a special building at a certain day and time to show it respect? You don't. Organized religion is the world's #1 scam job.

      April 20, 2014 at 7:18 am |
      • lexingtonbobby

        If you knew enough about Scripture and Christianity you wouldn't be babbling in a clueless manner.

        April 20, 2014 at 7:23 am |
        • jkflipflop

          Oh I see. Thanks for the answer. You must be one of them there "true" christians, huh?

          April 20, 2014 at 7:24 am |
      • lexingtonbobby

        Exactly. We're allowed to disagree with you as well. News Flash!

        April 20, 2014 at 7:27 am |
      • lean6

        I can understand the real reason for congregating...to draw or lend strength, encouragement, inspiration etc from others. These people are confused. Like I said, the church has too many people like this author who are confused...or serving their own interests. Given the opportunity to deliver a message to millions of readers of CNN, the author writes something like this? If a person is reading this and believes that their God is pleased with this, well that's a pretty small God that they serve.

        April 20, 2014 at 7:31 am |
      • pwramirez

        On this statement, I concur 100%... the churches are nothing more than a snare and a racket.

        April 20, 2014 at 7:36 am |
    • lexingtonbobby

      It's unreal really, that anyone would even make this an issue. There ARE growing, Scripturally based churches that don't care what is worn, period.

      April 20, 2014 at 7:26 am |
      • lexingtonbobby

        The majority would for sure. There are some that would not.

        April 20, 2014 at 7:31 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.