One of the battlefields on which young men and the clergy fought was the matter of the dance.
John Vianney, when he arrived at Ars, announced his aim: above all, to stop the dancing.
His vicar, Raymond, explained that in Ars
These young people were crazy about a certain pleasure called dance which they had every Sunday and feast day with a type of drunkenness and fury. The good pastor saw in the dance a block to the growing piety in their hearts. He saw in it the ruin of good morals, a path to debauchery by the adulteration of morals, through the too great liberty that parents too often gave to the young persons who were in the presence of boys
The parents said that they had danced when they were young, that how else were future spouses supposed to meet? John Vianney
deplored such blindness; he wept about it before the Lord; he prayed; he exhorted; he threatened; he menaced with the judgments of God.
He refused absolution to those who refused to give up dancing. He told them “if you do not stop going to dances, you are damned” and that “dancing …is the chain by which the devil pulls most souls into hell.” He had a motto painted on the chapel of St. John the Baptist: “His head was the price of a dance.”
This was the almost universal attitude of the clergy toward dancing. Martin Luther was an exception: he saw no harm in village dancing.
But by the time the Lutherans had made it to up-country South Carolina, they had joined in the general condemnation. They saw their mission as twofold: to preach the Gospel, and to obliterate dancing. A choreophobic Lutheran Synod in 1814 decided:
Resolved: That negro slaves be instructed in our holy religion, and be received into our Church as members; and that the congregations should make proper arrangements in their houses of worship to give the slaves also the opportunity to hear the Gospel. It was also Resolved, That all our ministers unite themselves to labor against the pernicious influence and consequences of dancing and seek to prevent it in every possible way