At Aimee Semple McPherson's Pentecostal tent revival meetings, worshippers spoke in tongues and rolled on the floor, moved by the spirit of the Lord. McPherson pitched her tent in town after town across the U.S., and by 1918 her revivals were attracting thousands of people, many of them poor.
When McPherson took her revival to Baltimore, she calculated that the Pentecostals' expressive worship might prevent middle-class Americans from joining the church. She made the controversial decision to tone down her followers' manifestations of the spirit. "I was fishing for whales," she explained, "not minnows."
Her career had been made by Pentecostalism and the people who had supported her with their small offerings. Many Pentecostals now criticized her for having lost the spirit. Yet McPherson would lead her religion into the mainstream, touching the lives of millions.
Was McPherson wrong to turn her back on her early followers?