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Bad behavior in church is embarrassing--and on the rise

Dear Bishop Kicanis:

I know you're busy dealing with bankruptcy and the legacy of perv priests left over from your predecessor, but there's a situation I'd like you to address.

See, I went to Christmas Mass a couple weeks ago, and I'm just now getting over it. It was the most frustrating 100 minutes of my entire life, and that includes the time I paid full price to see Love Story. You know how experienced party people refuse to go out on New Year's Eve or St. Patrick's Day, disdainfully referring to each as "Amateur Night?" Well, I'm giving serious consideration to joining my cousin Gino, who attends Mass every Sunday of the year, but stopped going on Christmas and Easter a few years ago because he simply couldn't deal with the twice-a-year classless rabble that show up and basically trash the holy ceremony.

I gave up my seat to an older lady who got there a little bit late, and I went to stand near the back of the church. During the Mass, on the second-holiest day of the religious calendar, I personally witnessed:

· Twelve (12!) cell phones ringing. In church! I'm sure it's just a coincidence that 12 is also the number of Jesus' apostles and the number of months in the year, not to mention the number, in inches, that those phones should be shoved up their owners' butts. At least two of the people answered their phones and began speaking.

· A young couple who began kissing. And I'm talking tongue action.

· At least two boys wearing baseball caps.

· An overly made-up young woman who looked like she had bought Tammy Faye Bakker's old face on eBay and who was wearing fewer clothes than Christina Aguilera on laundry day. It's been a longstanding tradition that no one is supposed to show any cleavage in church, neither women nor men. (One is worse in church; the other is worse in life.) Well, this person had an exposed midriff, low-cut halter top and a too-short skirt.

She strutted around for a while, then left about halfway through the Mass, apparently deciding that she wanted to get in some last-minute hooking before the malls closed.

· Two young men in their late 20s drinking from water bottles they had brought to church. You're going to church, you pansies, not running a marathon! It's late December, so you're probably not going to pass out from the (50-degree) heat. Maybe we could have some do-gooders from another church erect a water station for anybody who can't make it to the altar and back without a drink.

· A kid playing with a Game Boy, with the sound up! I don't blame kids for acting stupid in church; I blame parents for letting kids act stupid in church. Somebody needs to teach that kid to sit his ass still for an hour and zone out like all the rest of us. When I was a fidgety kid in church, my mom would pinch me a Blue Meanie on the inside of my upper arm. A Blue Meanie was the Ritalin of the day. Apparently, there's a nerve in that part of the arm that's connected directly to the sacroiliac and makes you sit right up and not move until you're told to.

· Three or four boys--pyros in training, with no parent in sight--lighting about 15 of the small votive candles in the narthex (outer lobby) of the church. By custom, you're supposed to put money in the slot provided to help cover the cost of replacing the candles. I finally walked over and whispered to the kids to stop, and they did. I only had a couple dollars on me, but I gave them to one of the boys and told him to put them in the slot.

Just then, their mother showed up and asked what the money was for. I whispered an explanation, and then she said (and I quote), "You don't have to pay for the candles. You're only supposed to put money in there if you really want your prayers to be answered."

You freakin' pagan-ass dolt!

It was at that moment that I realized that the church had been overrun by the Clampetts. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the largest Catholic Church in Arizona, was full of Cath-lampetts, who all probably thought that the baptismal font was a miniature version of the see-ment pond.

I know that piety is one of the seven deadly sins. (Of course, if you mention the seven deadly sins to the Cath-lampetts, they'll say that it was a plot device in a movie starring Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow's head.) I don't claim to be holier than they. These people have a right to go to church, but how about if they just sit there quietly and watch how the people who go more than once or twice a year do it? Is that so hard?

I'm actually kinda' mad at the priests who don't use their bully pulpit to address this abhorrent behavior. I asked one priest about it, and he shrugged and said, "They're all part of the flock."

They're flockin' embarrassing, is what they are.

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