How to Select a Successful Evangelist

"How to Select a Successful Evangelist" is a satirical sonnet (possibly inspired by Sinclair Lewis's Elmer Gantry, published the year before) from a March 1928 letter that Robert E. Howard wrote to Tevis Clyde Smith.

First, find a man who has a goodly voice,
Whose yell shall shake the very topmost spire
When he proclaims some rival rev a liar.
Pass up the knowledge if he has the noise.
Next, see he mixes freely with the boys.
A man with carefully concealed desire,
But one whose sex appeal is like a fire—
Then he is sure of all the women’s choice.

Yet let him be discreet—Let not a rumor
Attend his trail. Let him condemn all thought
Most loudly as the evil he has fought.
Enough vulgarity to pass as humor.

He shall be sure then, gathering the tin
And lead ten thousand from the ways of sin.