Politics & Policy

Lacking Grace

Summer weather brings out the worst in some churchgoers.

I understand why so many churchgoers are in need of grace, because an awful lot of them display so very little.

Why, knowing that you are about to shake hands with fellow congregants, either at the start of a service or during the sign of peace, would you pick your nose? Do these rude people (who I think have season tickets to the pew in front of mine) imagine that we don’t see them sneaking a dig? Confession: I have actually gotten up and taken my children to the back of the church before the sign of peace to avoid shaking hands with the parish pickers.

#ad# My friend Ina told me she has seen people at her church’s “summer services” surfing the Internet on their iPhones. They put the phones on mute and scroll through their texts and e-mail in the middle of Sunday observances. Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean you can “vacation” from decorum in the church!

The summer weather seems to bring out the worst in some churchgoers, and it’s not just what they are doing, but what they are wearing. As the temperature rises, beachwear becomes the norm in some congregations. Shorts, sarong-like wraps, swim trunks, and flip-flops (which some wear year-round) are routine. Unless your church is on a sand dune, these fashions are not only unwelcome but scary to many fellow parishioners. It reminds me of the woman I once saw exit a confessional in full body-hugging spandex. I don’t know if there was a spin class in there or what — but this was one spiritually dissonant image I could have lived without.

The only thing possibly more obnoxious than the outrageous church fashions is the couples who are forever caressing each other in the pews. I suppose they do it initially to acknowledge a point of mutual interest being made from the pulpit. But there are other cases of roving fingers that I can’t explain at all. One man I saw rubbed his wife’s back for an entire sermon. I’ve also seen people stroke their partner’s arms, legs, necks, even buttocks during services. Excuse me, but this is supposed to be worship, not a conjugal visit! The only conception I’m even remotely interested in thinking about during church is of the immaculate variety.

— Laura Ingraham is host of The Laura Ingraham Show. This is an excerpt from Of Thee I Zing: America’s Cultural Decline from Muffin Tops to Body Shots, written with Raymond Arroyo, released this week by Threshold.

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