In the city of Madurai, India, Christian churches are trying to stop smartphone use during service.
Churches throughout the city of Madurai, India, have had enough of the intrusion from mobile technology during their services and have started to crack down on the use of those devices on their premises.
Advisories have been issued against texting and against using messaging apps during service.
Some of the priests have said that they have been trying to decide whether or not they should be addressing individual parishioners who have continued to use mobile technology devices while they are in church. They have found that the practice of texting and the use of the WhatsApp mobile app have been especially problematic and intrusive during their services.
Mobile technology has been interrupting prayer services on a more regular basis, distracting the peace.
Ringtones for incoming messages and calls are sometimes embarrassing for the mobile device owner, but they are certainly distracting and frustrating to the entire congregation, as they are occurring more regularly in the middle of prayer. The majority of churchgoers do carry their smartphones to church with them, but the clergy in Madurai is trying very hard to make it clear that the devices need to be silent and unused throughout a prayer service. The sound of a smartphone or the sight of its use is considered to be quite intrusive.
The clergy is asking that the members of churches please follow what the majority have been doing and shut off their phones or switch them to silent mode. Should an emergency call come in – through a vibrating alert, not a ringtone – they want members to step out of the room in order to take it.
According to Father Jerone Simon of the Claretian Missionaries, who is a regular celebrant of mass at Ellis Nagar and Bastin Nagar churches, “When mobile phones came in first and smart phones later, it was tough time to control this intrusion. There have been instances when we had to tell the members getting calls to put their phones on the silent mode. But things are working out slowly.”
Signage and placards are being hung in some churches, such as St. Mary’s Cathedrial, in order to prevent the use of mobile technology and remind parishioners to silence their devices when they enter. Unfortunately, until now, that has not managed to reach everybody, quite yet.