Break the electronic tethers in church

Break the electronic tethers in church

We’re addicted. That’s all I can think. As a society we’re addicted to constant electronic stimulation and connection.

A columnist in today’s Boston Herald writes about people who play video games and talk on cell phones in churches and at cemeteries, and how a Catholic priest in Braintree, Mass., has had to put up signs telling people to turn them off.

At a family First Communion I attended a few weeks ago, a little boy, dressed in his Sunday best, sat in a nearby church pew playing a portable video game.

His head was bent and his focus was fiercely on the game (the volume, thankfully, was turned off) as he sat beside his perfectly coifed mother, who was unfazed — as if the pair were at home on the living room couch.


At St. Francis of Assisi in Braintree, the Rev. Kevin Sepe has posted signs at church entryways, reminding parishioners to silence their cell phones and pagers.

“Even with that, it becomes problematic at funerals and weddings and First Communions when you have a lot of visitors,” Sepe said. “We’ve had cases where folks have come in and actually carried on a telephone conversation in church and thinking nothing of it.”

Sepe knows one priest who refused Communion to someone who was talking on a cell phone in the Communion line. “He said, ‘Either shut the phone off or you’re not getting Communion.’”

A few years ago in my own parish, at Christmas Eve, I was seated behind a woman and her husband and one of her children. I say “one” because she was on the phone several times during Mass with the babysitter giving her instructions, chatting away as if she were at the mall.

I’ve had an occasion once or twice to have my cell phone ringing during Mass because I forgot to turn it off or put it on vibrate, but now that I think about it, why do I even need it in church? Why can’t I leave it in the car? Am I that attached to the thing that I can’t leave it for one hour?

We’re a culture that has grown electronic tethers that we can’t break at home with our families, on the weekends, on vacations, or even at church, including even weddings and funerals.

In Europe, many places—not just churches but even restaurants and theaters—now have cell phone jammers in order to keep the peace and quiet. Alas, they’re illegal in the US. Maybe we need to ask the FCC to loosen the restrictions so we can have some havens of peace and quiet.

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