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DEAR ABBY: May I respond to your reply to "Dismayed in Marysville, Mich.," regarding attire in church? As a priest and pastor, I'm appalled at how some people come dressed for Sunday worship.

You said that "Dress codes have been greatly relaxed in recent decades," which I find to be inaccurate. What has become relaxed is the attitude, the respect and reverence people have for worship and church buildings. From brides walking down the aisle chewing gum to funeral pallbearers wearing tennis shoes, to members wearing flip-flops, shorts and tank tops on Sunday, the lack of respect and reverence to worship is disgusting.

These same people would never allow their children to play in a sporting event out of uniform, or apply for a job interview themselves dressed inappropriately. Sunday worship should be no different! -- PRIEST IN OHIO

DEAR PRIEST: I also said I was raised to believe people should dress "respectfully" in the house of the Lord -- and that means fully shod and covered up enough so it doesn't distract the other worshippers. However, reaction to my reply varied sharply. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: More important than what people are wearing is the reason for being in church in the first place. Maybe it would be better if we could all enter God's house blind. If we can't see what people are wearing, we can leave our judgments and prejudices outside and use the time to learn more about God's purpose for our lives. -- DIANA IN CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA

DEAR ABBY: Satan wants to embarrass the church, so he sends people dressed any kind of disrespectful way. They'd be sent home from their jobs if they dressed like that. Women: Cover up! You are worth more than your skin. -- PASTOR'S WIFE IN ST. LOUIS

DEAR ABBY: That we worship is more important than what we wear. That letter reminded me of the story of the old cowboy who visited a new church in his jeans and boots. After the service, the pastor greeted him and remarked, "We enjoyed having you here today, but before you return, you should have a talk with God about proper attire in church."

The next week, the cowboy returned wearing the same clothes, so the pastor approached him again. "I thought I told you to speak with God about what to wear when you came here," he said. The cowboy responded, "I did. But he said he didn't know because he'd never set foot in here!" -- IOWA COWBOY

DEAR ABBY: My pastor says no one would consider dressing casually if they were going to be in the presence of our president or any other dignitary. Why would we consider anything less for our Lord? Makes perfect sense to me. -- BARBARA, MORGANTOWN, PA.

DEAR ABBY: I have seen people come to church straight from working in their yard, without changing or washing up. When I was a child living in the country, men came to work wearing overalls, but they were clean and, most of the time, new. Today, there is no excuse for slovenliness in public, much less in God's house. -- LILLIE IN SPRINGFIELD, MO.

DEAR ABBY: Church is where you go to give praise to the Lord, not check out what others are wearing. If "Dismayed" feels put out because someone isn't dressed the way she'd like, then maybe the services should be held at Macy's so she can feel more comfortable. -- MATTHEW IN PEORIA

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