William Ashley Sunday (Billy Sunday), a popular outfielder in the National League during the 1880s, became the most celebrated and influential American evangelist during the first two decades of the 20th century.
In the 1929-1935 sociological studies of “Middletown USA,” 30,000 people attended 42, predominantly Protestant, churches. While most citizens professed a belief in God, strong religious tenets (e.g., existence of heaven and hell) were declining and organized religion was viewed with increasing cynicism.
Overall, Middletown USA was becoming more secular. Youth were less inclined to attend church, but more likely to be involved with the YMCA or YWCA.