Metro-East Living

Texting in church is an etiquette sin

Texting while walking can be trick and dangerous.
Texting while walking can be trick and dangerous. Chicago Tribune Service

Q: I don’t know if a lot of people still make common sense New Year’s resolutions, but I hope some have this one on their lists: Do not text or use a cell phone while you are in church. I saw a middle-aged lady — she was at least 65 — text while we were singing in church last week. I could not believe my eyes.

She was standing up singing, then turned and reached into her purse, sat down and began texting. It was difficult not to notice. After a minute or two, she left the pew and went out, came back, then had a lengthy whispering session with her mate. Maybe there was something very important going on, but I think she should have just left the pew with her purse and the phone and gone to the back before she ever started texting. It was very distracting.

I think all cell phones should simply be turned off before entering a church. Am I wrong? I feel there are a lot of other places where texting should not be permitted. If you could address this issue in one of your columns and provide a list, more people would get the picture and realize how rude they are.

A: I agree with you completely. Texting while sitting in church is an example of ultimate rudeness. It has been necessary to establish many common sense etiquette rules regarding every new social technology device. It became necessary when email originated, the cell phone itself for verbal communication, followed by the I-phone with texting capabilities. There are many etiquette do’s and don’ts pertaining to texting, but here is a list of rules pertaining more specifically to locations and conditions where people should not text:

▪  In a church, this includes before the service begins as you sit in the pew.

▪  While driving a car (which by law, is illegal).

▪  In a movie theater or a concert hall, whether or not the movie or program has begun.

▪  During a wedding or a wedding reception.

▪  During any part of a funeral

▪  When eating with another person whether at home or in a restaurant.

▪  When riding in a car as a passenger, unless requested to do so by the driver to check on something pertinent to the purpose of the drive.

▪  When involved in any type of social interaction: conversation, listening at a party, for example.

▪  In a business meeting or organizational meeting of any type.

▪  While standing in line at the grocery store, a pharmacy or department store.

▪  While standing in front of a rack of clothes or other items available for sale or in front of a counter of items, because you are blocking potential customers from properly viewing those items or sales personnel from carrying on their necessary duties.

▪  When paying for any kind of item in any store

▪  While attempting to place an order at a coffee shop or a fast-food restaurant.

▪  In class

▪  While working at your job

▪  During a tour in a museum or other public facility

▪  When walking on a sidewalk because you may trip and fall or bump into another person on the sidewalk.

▪  When taking your dog for a walk.

▪  When crossing a street or highway.

▪  When riding a bicycle.

▪  When riding a horse, elephant, camel.

▪  When holding a child or a pet

▪  While cooking or operating any piece of equipment which requires or requests your full attention.

▪  While playing a game with others, such as cards or various types of board games.

▪  When sitting or standing with others in your own home or someone else’s home.

▪  When baby-sitting

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Patrick Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to