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ETIQUETTE OF PUBLIC PLACES
Introduction: The perfect lady and gentleman are always polite in public places, considerate of the comfort and wishes of others, and unobtrusive in their behavior. Under the same circumstances sham gentility is boisterous, rude, vulgar, and selfish.
Church Etiquette.- One should preserve the utmost silence and decorum in church.
There should be no haste in passing up or down the aisle.
A gentleman should remove his hat as soon as he enters.
A gentleman and lady should pass up the aisle together until the pew is reached, when the former should step before the latter, open the pew door, holding it open while she enters, then follow her and close the door after him.
There should be no whispering, laughing, or staring.
If a stranger is seen to enter the church, and the sexton does not at once provide him with a seat, the pew door should be opened and the stranger silently invited to enter.
It is courteous to see that strangers are provided with books; and if the service is strange to them, the places for the day’s reading should be indicated.
It is perfectly proper to offer to share the prayer or hymn book with a stranger if there is no separate book for his use.
If books or fans are passed in church, let them be offered and accepted or refused with a silent gesture of acceptance or refusal.
Upon entering a strange church it is best to wait until the sexton conducts you to a seat. By no means enter an occupied pew uninvited.
In visiting a church of a different belief from your own, pay the utmost respect to the services and conform in all things to the observances of the church – that is, kneel, sit and rise with the congregation. No matter how grotesquely some of the forms and observances may strike you, let no smile or contemptuous remark indicate the fact while in the church.
If a Protestant gentleman accompanies a lady who is a Roman Catholic to her own church, it is an act of courtesy to offer the holy water. This he must do with his ungloved right hand.
When the services are concluded, there should be no haste in crowding up the aisle, but the departure should be conducted quietly and in order. When the vestibule is reached, it is allowable to exchange greetings with friends, but here there should be no loud talking nor boisterous laughter. Neither should gentlemen congregate in knots in the vestibule or upon the steps of the church and compel ladies to run the gauntlet of their eyes and tongues.
Never be late to church. It is a decided mark of ill-breeding.
In visiting a church for the mere purpose of seeing the edifice, one should always go at a time when there are no services being held. If people are even then found at their devotions, as is apt to be the case in Roman Catholic churches especially, the demeanor of the visitor should be respectful and subdued and his voice low, so that he may not disturb them.
Wells, A. M., Richard A., MANNERS, CULTURE AND DRESS, Massachusetts, King, Richardson & Company Publishers, 1893