Once upon a time, and not all that long ago, people knew how to behave in church. Now, many clearly don’t.
For the second year in a row, President Trump received a standing ovation, cheers and applause before he and his wife Melania were seated for the Christmas Eve service at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Palm Beach on December 24, 2017.
And for the second year in a row, I’m writing to address that.
For those who don’t know any better, it is totally inappropriate to give anyone a standing ovation, cheer or applaud them when they are coming to a church as part of the congregation. Policy at Bethesda-by-the-Sea doesn’t approve of that behavior and the Christmas Eve ushers tried to stop it— all to no avail.
Throughout the decades dignitaries from around the world have attended services at Bethesda-by-the-Sea—all arriving quietly and without any hoopla.
I talked to Judy O’Hara Vetrick, who grew up in Palm Beach and attended St. Edward’s Catholic Church during the days when President Kennedy was in office and frequented that church, and asked if the congregation stood up and applauded when he was in attendance. “No,” she said almost laughing. “ He came in quietly and the only way anyone knew the president or his family were in church was by the Secret Service guys there wearing dark sun glasses.”
And that’s how it’s done right.
So for those who need a church-behavior reminder, Mr. President when coming to church you need to quietly slip into a pew and forget about doing any waving or thumb’s up gestures. They aren’t appropriate gestures for a president in church. Period. And to those in the congregation, many of whom I’m starting to wonder if they are political plants, there will be no standing, applauding, cheering, picture or video taking at the first siting of the president.
He is, after all, only a man. And you, after all, are in church on Christmas Eve to celebrate the birth of the Christ child. Not the leader of the Republican Party.