This song really pissed a lot of people off in 1958. The local station, KENM, Portales, New Mexico [1450 on your radio dial] refused to play it for a while.
But KENM went off the air at 9PM and most of us first heard it on KOMA, Oklahoma City, same as all the other kids from Texas to North Dakota. You could pick it up once the local stations shut down. The leading edge to what was happening. The 1958 facsimile of the Internet for youth in the Central and Southwestern US.
Rock and Roll was still trying to define itself, trying to separate itself from Rhythm and Blues, and Bop. Adults were fairly certain it was the work of the devil, same a the Bop. [I’ve written here somewhere how much trouble I got into doing the ‘Dirty Bop’ without even knowing I was doing it.] It wasn’t even clear yet that Rock and Roll would be the name that stuck to it.
So when Pat Boone mixed Rock and Roll with religion he was stepping on a lot of sober, somber toes.
But thanks to KOMA, we heard it anyway. A kid name Chito Smith stood up on a bench in the locker room after PE class and started singing it, all of us with towels wrapped around us jumping around, snapping our fingers, defying authority, singing, “Wellawellawellawella, everybody’s gonna get religion and glory.”
KENM eventually bent enough to play it. They were already playing such songs as “Wings of a Dove,” by Hawkshaw Hawkins, and “Sinner Man,” by Brook Benton, anyway, and I suppose they figured those might neutralize the devilish side of every body having a wonderful time up there.