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Dressing down

Local ministers accept the modern Sunday casual trend


Cultural norms in the United States are constantly evolving. One facet that has arguably changed the most is the way people dress. Women have traded in long dresses lined with petticoats for fitted mini skirts and men swapped three-piece suits for collared shirts and khakis.

One example of the massive change is the Axe Body Spray commercial about the “crisis” of girls getting hotter over the decades. The pictures simply show women in tinier bathing suits.

Acceptable clothing has become increasingly more casual. This change in trend can especially be seen at church.

“I hope that the older people don’t take it as a slap in the face, it’s just, things have changed so much. Today’s society is a dressed-down society,” said Pastor Mark Zalesky First Christian Church.

Church used to have an unspoken code of dresses, suits and nice shoes. This dress code inspired the expression “Sunday best.” It won’t be too long before this expression’s meaning—like many others—is lost to newer generations.

“We had special stuff to wear on Sunday,” youth minister at St. Patrick’s Church, Pat Mertz said. “When you got home, you put away your good shoes and good dress.”

Mertz and Zalesky, like other ministers, are not offended by the shift in church wear.

“I would rather have a congregation come that’s comfortable, where they can relax and enjoy everything. You can’t judge a person’s heart by the way they dress,” Zalesky said.

Religious leadership across the country tends to agree. According to Christianity Today, “…there is nothing particularly spiritual about a dress or a coat and tie. God is scarcely impressed by such things.”

Among those in tune with changing standards, there is a belief that when people feel more comfortable in what they are wearing to church, their attitudes about religion will be more appreciative.

“Generationally, I think it’s more relaxed. This generation—like our teens today and their parents—have a more relaxed attitude all across the board about religion than a generation or two ago. I think dress is just part of the whole piece, not just something separate. It’s part of the whole change of attitude,” Mertz said.

A point to consider is that many people are struggling. America is in a recession and a larger-than-necessary portion of the population is unemployed. Some cannot afford the clothes that fall into the category of “Sunday best” and look to religion to help them cope in a time where they have so little.

“Some people just don’t have nice clothes. Some people, you know, are happy just to have a clean pair of jeans to wear to church. And that’s fine as long as they come and they want to hear the word of God. God doesn’t care how you dress to come to church as long as you come,” Zalesky said.


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