House of Worship Etiquette

Temples, mosques, churches, and other houses of worship are often great places to visit. Not only do they exhibit some of the finest art works and architecture in the area, but you also get to learn a lot about that city or town’s history. It will also give you a peek to a world completely different from your own. To make your visit more pleasant and to leave a good impression on your hosts, there are certain guidelines one must adhere to. Every religion has their own set of rules you need to abide, but across the board there is a universal set of etiquette you need to follow, and they all stem from one thing, RESPECT.

  • READ AND FOLLOW THE HOUSE RULES!! Houses of worship that are on the tourist trail usually have their house rules posted at the entrance. Do us all a favor and abide by it. If you don’t agree with the rules, please leave quietly and don’t make a scene.
  • Do not enter when services are ongoing. Come back after!
  • Be quiet and respect the sanctity of the place. It’s not called a house of worship for nothing. Do not make loud noises. Do not run around the place. Turn your mobile phone off. If visiting with children, make sure they are next to you at all times and are behaving.
  • No food, drinks, or smoking inside a house of worship. I don’t care what religion it is, DON’T!
  • Do not take pictures of worshipers praying. Wait after service/prayers are over before taking any pictures.
  • Dress conservatively and appropriately. Cover your shoulders and your knees. Just because you’re on holiday doesn’t give you the excuse to dress like a skank in church. Save the midriffs and booty shorts for the beach or the bars. Good luck getting in with your hoochie mama outfit in most churches and definitely all mosques. Men, your hairy knobby knees were unsexy at the beach, what makes you think that being in the temple will make them sexier?
  • Help keep the place clean. If you have a piece of thrash you want to throw out but cannot find a waste bin, keep it in your purse, bag, or pocket until you do find one.
  • When greeted by a guardian at the entrance, be polite and return the greeting. In mosques, you would be greeted with “Assalam Allaikum” to which you reply “Wa alaikum-as-salam”. In a Hindu temple, the greeting is either “Namaste” or “namaskar“. When a priest wishes you a good morning and offers you his blessings, acknowledge him and thank him. The traditional greeting for a monk is to place the hands together in a prayer-like gesture and give a slight bow, hold your hands higher than usual (near the forehead) to show more respect to monks.
  • Never go in a place of worship if you’re drunk, hungover, or reek of alcohol.

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