footloose

Among the modern vices that never took hold in Elmore City was public dancing. In fact, it has been forbidden by law since the town was founded. …Last January the juniors and seniors at Elmore City High School asked that the rules be changed, or at least bent.

Many are aware of the Footloose movies. They are loosely based upon what happened in Elmore City, Oklahoma. What you may not know is that a United Pentecostal Church minister stood against the high school having a dance. The UPC has taken a stand against dancing for many years. (See the last page of their 1952 Articles of Faith.)

Quoting from the source linked to here: “As the Rev. F.R. Johnson of the United Pentecostal Church in nearby Hennepin was quoted in People magazine as saying at the time: ‘If you have a dance, somebody will crash it, and they’ll be looking for only two things – women and booze. When boys and girls hold each other, they get sexually aroused.'”

This is from the above referenced May 19, 1980, People magazine article about the school and its first dance.

Among the modern vices that never took hold in Elmore City was public dancing. In fact, it has been forbidden by law since the town was founded. …Last January the juniors and seniors at Elmore City High School asked that the rules be changed, or at least bent.

…Sides were chosen immediately. “No good has ever come from a dance,” thundered the Rev. F.R. Johnson of the United Pentecostal Church in nearby Hennepin—the father of two teenage daughters. “If you have a dance somebody will crash it and they’ll be looking for only two things—women and booze. When boys and girls hold each other, they get sexually aroused. You can believe what you want, but one thing leads to another.” The Rev. Johnson insisted he spoke for many of the churchmen in the area and many of their parishioners. At a town meeting to consider the question in February, a local citizen predicted that after the dance there would be a surge in pregnancies at the school “because when boys and girls breathe in each other’s ears, that’s the next step.”

The United Pentecostal Church in Hennepin was and still is an affiliated church, which means there is a legal affiliation between the church and the organization. Affiliated churches may only have a pastor who is UPCI licensed. I am unsure of when Johnson became pastor as I don’t have a complete set of old directories.

In July 1973, Freddie R. Johnson became pastor of Life Tabernacle Church (renamed First United Pentecostal Church) in Alamogordo, New Mexico and was a presbyter in the Texico District. Prior to then he served in El Paso and Colorado City, Texas, Thomasville, Georgia and Grants, New Mexico. By 1985, he was pastor in Allison, Texas. It appears he is still with the organization as of 2016, and is in Oklahoma, but is no longer a pastor.

The Oklahoma District of the UPCI is no stranger to controversy, both before and after the school dance in Elmore City. After a General Conference in Tulsa, when Murray Burr wasn’t elected as General Superintendent, numerous disgruntled ministers split and formed the AMF (Apostolic Ministers’ Fellowship) in 1968. Some of these ministers had a lingering hostility toward their former group many years after the dust settled and they had walked away.

Ernest Bass and the First United Pentecostal Church of Tulsa made the news in the 1990s due to a slander lawsuit. It was also in Tulsa where some unhappy UPCI ministers met to form a new, more conservative “preferred” Apostolic organization in 2008. This happened after the organization passed a resolution in September 2007, allowing advertising on television.