30 thoughts on “Random Mormon Poll #1: Cell phones in church

  1. I put my iPhone on silent and use it for my scriptures, my copy of the PH manual and my copy of the SS manual. I then also have access to the list of all the source material of Joseph Smith’s lectures that I regularly access. I notice in PH quite a few people do the same thing.

  2. The impetus for this poll came when my parents told me that their Bishop asked members to bring and use paper scriptures and not smart phones or PDA’s.

    The last time I attended PEC, 4 of us were using our iPhones for scriptures and/or to look people up on MLS. I personally find my iPhone extremely useful on Sunday and have every manual I need loaded on my iPhone along with a scripture application that allows marking and notes.

    Has anyone else had a Bishop come out and say no more cell phones or smart phones in church?

  3. not in our ward – the bishop is a doctor, and on call at times.
    however, youth shouldn`t need their`s – there is far too much texting going on in sacrament and SS!

  4. I’m glad our Bishop isn’t a Luddite.

    I wonder if people were just reading blogs or playing games during that boring Sacrament talk and he noticed…

  5. Yeah, I don’t do emoticons. That’s probably why. I do my grins HTML style and the filter probably thought I was launching a spam attack of smiles.

  6. I use my smart phone, but not for my scriptures, at church. Last Sunday I checked M* at church. I take notes during PEC on my phone. I text my counselors while at church because they are often chasing their kids in different parts of the building. I usually take notes (mocking commentary) during sacrament meetings. Very useful for when wanting to blog about said meetings.

    I prefer the paper scripture. The quad is very helpful for hiding my phone from view.

  7. I also use my iphone during church. I have manuals the Hymns at my fingertips when I can’t find a hymnbook around. I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND the struggle we’re having with cell phones in church. I have to constantly look down the row at my children to make sure they don’t have their phones, and if they do, that they’re not texting friends in the room. But all you can do is ask the members to heed the counsel and requests of the Brethren. Everyone is accountable for themselves. If you prohibit them from bringing them, they’ll still bring them. It’s up to each parent to teach their children what is right. It was certainly enough to have my bishop mention it once at the pulpit. This is just a struggle we have in our day and age with this technology. We have to manage it like every other struggle we’ve been given.

  8. I said “no” but not for the poll reason. If turned on silent they should be allowed. We have several members with health problems and other things that make these devices handy. I have no problem with them. Our ward leadership understands there are just some times that it is necessary to be “on-call” from home or work. I leave my phone in the car but that’s mainly because I don’t always remember to turn it on silent. If family need to contact me on Sunday during meetings, they know the number to the church.

  9. “Prohibited”? That’s a loaded statement, I think. Who is going to prohibit what; and what is the penalty for such an infraction?

    It’s like this: if you don’t hear it, is it a problem? If one wants to read email, blog, check stock quotes, or whatever, whose business is it again? Oh, that’s right, it’s the business of the busybody on the next pew that can’t stand it that someone is doing something he isn’t.

    Church is a personal experience. If you don’t like it, don’t go. If you think you’re going to lose it seeing someone fiddle with his phone, well, I recommend counseling with a good clinical psychologist; because it’s the person having fits over the phone that has the real issues. I’d guess projection is one of them.

  10. Medical personel, firemen and policemen need them at church. But everyone, regardless of reason, should put them on silent/vibrate during the 3 hour block.

    There should be a fine if your cell phone/whatever rings audibly. $1 in SS/RS/PH, and $2 if it’s during opening/closing prayer. $5 in Sacrament meeting, and $10 if it’s during opening/closing prayer, and $20 if it rings after the sacrament hymn starts and before the Deacons are dismissed to sit with their family. (No, I didn’t used to be Catholic, but maybe I have some pharisee blood in me.)

    One time in December, an adult (not a teenage priest) administering the sacrament was wearing a Christmas tie that played Jingle Bells when you pressed it. At the _end_ of sacrament as he leaned forward (he was short of stature) to take the water tray from one of the deacons, his tie pressed against the edge of the table, and started to play. Oops!

  11. Should have been a choice for “allow it to be present, but require it to be in silent mode”. There are emergency situations that would require someone to be reachable (and of course there are those with electronic Scriptures, etc.), but at least in my area, there really needs to be more effort made to keep phones silent at church. You CAN get calls without everyone in the chapel knowing about it, people!

  12. This reminds me of a Sunday a couple of months ago. I am a big no phones at church for the Bensons. During the opening prayer this LOUD OBNOXIOUS phone starts ringing. I open my eyes and to my horror IT IS COMING FROM MY BIG BIG CHURCH BAG. I frantically rummage around in it until it stops ringing by me silencing it by yanking out the battery. Big surprise for me, Hong Mei packed a supposably dead phone, given to my son Flash by the Bishop’s grandson 6 months earlier, to play with at church. So the Bishop gets up to tell everyone to turn off their phones. People are giving us the evil eye. I was so mad/embarressed/aggravated etc… I could have spit nails!

    SO the moral(s) of the story is people with strong opinions (me) get their comeuppance, check what your kids pack for church, and never assume that dead is really dead.

  13. Bo: Prohibited seemed like a better word than banned, but either way you pose the question is going to seem harsh. It’s just a poll, ya know?

    Bookslinger: If being a Pharisee means a better EQ social, count me in. We could buy steaks with the fines you propose.

    Joanna: Now that I’m done squirting Diet Coke out of my nose after reading your comment, I guess I should go clean up the mess I made on my table. Thanks a lot!!

  14. A commenter above wrote that church is a personal experience, but it should be plain that church is also a communal experience. Aside from noise/distraction issues, or as a special case of them, there can be a question of ambiance. There is a lot about worship forms that is deliberately old-fashioned. Latter-day Saints don’t carry that as far as some—we’re OK with buttons and zippers and never performed ordinances in Latin, but we do throw some obsolete language in our prayers and look for it in our scriptures. Most people’s ideal chapels would be ones that their great-grandparents would have felt completely at home in. Reciting the KJV from a PDA is a bit . . . incongruent. This is just a matter of taste, but aestetics do have some value and use. The clicking of laptop keys in lecture halls annoys me while the scratching of pencil on paper soothes.

  15. Great comment, John. Reading scriptures from a PDA might seem a bit incongruent for some, but imagine your ancestors attending an endowment session in a modern temple with the film. I wonder what their reaction might be?

    Interestingly, though, I would hazzard to guess that were the question about cell phones in the temple, the voting would be decidedly against cell phones. At least, I know that is what my response would be.

  16. I leave my phone and most other stuff that has to do with my normal day-to-day world in the car (locked in the trunk) when I go into the temple. I don’t even wear a watch in there because I want to be able to disconnect from my worldly concerns and focus on more eternal matters, and wearing a watch distracts me :-).

    My VT told me recently she’d one time forgotten to put her phone on silent while she was at the temple and came back after the session to find a note on her locker politely requesting that she remember to silence it or not bring it in next time, since it had rung repeatedly. Understandably, she found that embarrassing. :-)

  17. I’ve always tried to teach my children the principle of “just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.” Cell phones, PDAs, iPods,… How did the Saints of yesteryear (20+ years ago) ever survive church meetings without them? All those “emergencies” happening around us with no way to contact us? And we were forced to listen to all those talks and lessons without the escape hatch of electronic toys…. How did we survive??? (please insert sarcastic tone…)

  18. Seanette: Several years ago, I was on-call when one of my night-shift employees called in sick. I had planned on attending a temple dedication at my stake center and struggled with whether or not I would sneak my 2-way pager into the dedicatory session. I ultimately decided to leave my pager in my truck, but constantly worried that someone would try to get a hold of me while I was in the session. Sadly, I gave in to my fears, left the dedicatory session and missed a temple dedication. My pager did not go off once that entire evening.

    To echo Bo’s point, church is a personal experience. We are the ones who ultimately decide if we will let distractions keep us from meaningful worship and spiritual uplift.

    I no longer use my iPhone in church to check scores or read blog posts. I stick to the scriptures and lesson manuals. And no more Facebook updates when I have to take my daughter to the car when she is unruly in sacrament meeting. I now find that my Sunday experience is much better for it. But that’s just my experience.

  19. Mr. C: I wonder the same thing, how did we survive?? I can scarcely think how my parents fed me without a microwave, let alone how they survived my teenage years without a cell phone to keep track of me. I still marvel that I was able to grow up without technology cradling me every step of the way. ;-)

  20. What?!? I will refuse to give up my Blackberry during church. When the speakers are too boring, I answer emails or surf the web :-)

  21. I often wonder if these miraculous tools of technology, created to help us, begin to become crutches and excuses for our laziness. And aid in isolating us even more from people around us. (What’s wrong with holding/sharing a hymnbook with someone and singing praises together? Or leafing through the pages of your scriptures to find/re-find notes, cards, reminders of other scripture lessons learned?….) And how do we justify ourselves using these convenient gizmos in church for “appropriate” uses, while prohibiting our teens from their’s? Also, I couldn’t handle the constant wondering/checking to see if I got a message.

  22. My bishop and stake president both use these all day. They have all the information at there finger tips. I have all the stuff I need on mine. However, put it on silent and go out side if you get a phone call.

  23. Clark: nope, no iTouch.

    Bookslinger: I help make cellphones, PDAs, and most other electronic gadgets for a living. That probably makes me an even bigger heretic.

    When I’m in church the most important people in the world are sitting right next to me in the pew.

  24. For the record, I’ve never heard a phone ring during church, mine or anybody elses. The whole silent-or-off argument is lame.

    My bishop didn’t “ban” smartphones, but he did visit our EQ a few weeks ago to decry the practice of “texting during church.” I put that in quotes because I find it quite annoying when non-smartphone users characterize every activity utilizing a mobile as “texting.”

    I can’t remember the last time I texted anybody, but I do use my phone as my calendar, organizer, hymn book, manuals, and scriptures. Somebody in EQ had the cojones to raise their hand and make that point, and it was not well received.

    IMO, our bishop simply doesn’t like looking into a congregation and seeing people looking at their phones. I get that, but it seems like what’s most annoying to him is that he doesn’t know what we’re doing when we’re glued to our touch screens. I mean, were I jotting down notes in my ol’ Franklin Day Planner he’d be ok with that, or if I were doing scheduling in said ol’ planner. Same if I were cross-referencing scriptures in my quad- no problemo.

    But no, I’m staring into my phone, which means I’m “texting.”

    Yes, there’s a reason they call them crackberries. I personally choose not to check news and browse the web during church. If I get an email, I’ll read it, but other than that when you see me “texting” in the pew, I’m really doing church related stuff. The minute anybody tries to ban my smartphone will be the day my silent disobedience begins.

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