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  4. John Wesley: …starched and ironed before they were washed…

I recently heard a quote which was attributed to John Wesley; it has a nice ring to it, but… Well, first, here’s the quote:

The Church recruited people who had been starched and ironed before they were washed.

Searching Wesley’s Works (and additiona searches of his Journals), I cannot find any evidence that he ever provided this quote. Intriguingly, he actually discusses starch in a lengthy diatribe entitled To the Editor of ‘Lloyd’s Evening Post’ (December 9, 1772), but the topic of the letter is the “present scarcity of provisions.” Wesley opined on many topics in his lifetime!

I’ll keep my eyes open, but there are online clues which suggest these words actually came from John Wesley Lord, a Bishop of the Methodist Church from 1948 to 1972. In an article in the February 1st, 1963 edition of Time Magazine entitled Churches: The Hidden Revival, Bishop Lord was quoted with those same words:

Too many people were brought into church by fear of war, hope of social prestige, or for other nonreligious reasons. Washington’s Methodist Bishop John Wesley Lord charges that “the church recruited people who had been starched and ironed before they were washed.”

As I said, I’ll keep my eyes open in case Bishop Lord was offering some obscure words from John Wesley, but it seems that this quoation is misattributed. One thing to keep in mind is that giving the first and middle names of “John Wesley” to children used to be quite common (for example, John Wesley Powell), which sometimes leads to confusion.