Opinionated alumni and donors have long scolded PBI leaders for deviating even slightly from the status quo. Even L.E. got flak. After spending 19 years as a missionary in Japan, a Prairie grad named Marvin L. Fieldhouse returned to PBI, disliked what he saw and wrote a fiery undated pamphlet titled â€œWhither Boundâ€ (described on its stark black cover as â€œa shocking analysis of current trends at Prairie Bible Instituteâ€). Inside, he recalled seeing Ernest Manning, then Albertaâ€™s premier, on the platform at PBIâ€™s 40th anniversary in 1962, a scene that would have been incomprehensible in the instituteâ€™s early days. L.E. had warmed to politics over the years and especially liked Manning, admiring that he kept his radio broadcasts free from politics (â€œa wiser man than Aberhart,â€ he once wrote). Fieldhouse was nevertheless incensed. â€œI honestly wanted to vomit right where I sat in the tabernacle,â€ he wrote.
L.E. got sheaves of letters from similarly disgruntled American fundamentalists. A Minneapolis woman whoâ€™d heard that her niece was using hair rollers at Prairie wrote in 1966, â€œNo wonder that in the picture which she sent home that she looked so worldlyâ€”much more so than when she left home. What is happening to your standards up there anyway??â€ Other letters carried a more menacing tone. After a PBI quartet visited his church in 1977, Pastor George C. Bergland of Le Roy, Minnesota wrote saying he was distressed by the singersâ€™ appearance. â€œFor example, last night, some of the young fellows badly needed a haircut. One of them had a moustache.â€ Bergland was further offended by â€œpictures of girls in slacks playing tennisâ€ in a PBI publication. Then came his threat: â€œI am writing to say that if the trend towards worldly dress and haircuts continues I am sure that it wonâ€™t be long before our support will be discontinued. I am sure that the same will be true of many fundamental churches.â€
L.E. responded generously even to the kooks. To Bergland, he wrote, â€œwe appreciate folk who hold standards in this dayâ€”when the whole world has pretty well gone down the drain.â€ Yet he reminded his correspondent that â€œthere are greater things that unite usâ€ than moustaches and hairstyles. Still, change came slowly at PBI. L.E. himself resisted faculty efforts to relax rules forbidding male-female interaction, and TVs were forbidden in staff homes until the mid-â€™80s, after L.E. had died.