Etiquette of Conference Viewing

So, apparently my friend thought it was rude when I tested the length of the scarf I was crocheting during the closing prayer in conference today. Which made me wonder, really, what proper t.v. prayer behavior is, which started me questioning all of my little conference rituals. So, in the style of the Mormon Miss Manners, I present to you: Conference Etiquette.

1. T.V. prayers are real prayers, but require less rigid behavior. Do keep your eyes open and move, but only while sitting down. Do not get up to get a snack. Do not talk. Do not mute the prayer and fight with your family. Do not make other people laugh by pulling faces. Do check your scarf length.

2. Do not sing along with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Do make fun of the one poor black man that they keep focusing on, and do give the camera men suggestions on whom to focus. Preferrably the man who is yawning, or the woman who forgot the words.

3. Do sing loudly during the rest hymn. Do ignore the looks of people around you–because your enthusiasm outstrips your talent. Do laugh at the primary children when they sing “gird up your loins” during Come Come Ye Saints.

4. Do enthusiastically raise your hand to sustain the general authorities. Do make wildly speculative comments about why certain people were released.

5. Do not say rude things about the general authorities. But do make affectionate comments like “oh he’s so cute” and “he looks better a little chunky.”

6. Do not fall asleep during morning conference. It is permissible to fall asleep during afternoon conference, but only accidentally. Do not snore.

7. Do work on handiwork during conference. Do vocally admire your friends’ handiwork. Do secretly think that yours is better. Do ignore talks about pride.

8. Do not ignore the other talks. Do feel guilty. Do start REGULAR scripture study for at least a week, and do go buy a journal with every intention of writing in it. Do dust it occasionally.


  1. …massive conference center…

    I have heard it referred to as the “meganacle.”

  2. But I like the carnival arrangement. I’ve requested it to be played when I die and am walking through the veil like the guy in the old “Man’s Search for Happiness” film who translucently walks through the air on his way to the spirit world. Of course, since I’m probably hell-bound it’ll just be a mockery, but c’est la vie.

  3. But I was merely employing one of your “symantic shortcuts” my dear Karen. Actually, hell for me is here on earth, whenever the Red Sox lose.

  4. Durkee Durkee Durkee….you need to go review the comments under Mat Parke’s Economic Growth thread. Mormons don’t believe in hell–it’s one of our more attractive doctrine…. I’m sure you’ll be enjoying translucence and carnival songs….no worries.

  5. Great post! You should send that in to the Ensign… it would be a great bit of “Mormon Culture”!

  6. Hilarious! A fine list.

    Presumably, in the age of Dish Network and DirecTV, we may assume this is being done at home and not at the local stake center/branch building? A few I thought of (not as funny, of course):

    * Do not do your homework during conference unless you’re a student at BYU, and all your professors have decided to hold early midterms the Monday after conference, which they do every year despite knowing full well it falls right after conference weekend.

    * The rules of etiquette for conference viewing are twice as permissive on Sunday morning as they were on Saturday and twice as permissive on Sunday afternoon as they were that morning. You are forgiven for wandering off during the Sunday afternoon rest hymn and sneaking into the pantry or finding the TV no one is watching so you can check out the end of the game.

    * (Priesthood session attendees only) Do feign genuine interest after the speaker says he’s directing the bulk of his talk at the Aaronic priesthood holders of the Church but hints that everyone should pay attention because what he says is nevertheless applicable to all age groups. Yeah, wuteva.

    * It is acceptable to wear pajamas during the morning sessions. It is not acceptable to wear pajamas during the afternoon sessions.

    * Do promise yourself to read at least one talk that you really liked when it comes out in The Ensign. Do not read any of them again until years later when you have to for a lesson.

    * Do ridicule the fat man who has to assure us that the church audit was conducted according to generally accepted accounting principles. Do speculate wildly about what dirt they dug up in the audit (nods to Karen’s #4).

    * Do tell everyone to shut up when your favorite apostle speaks. When other apostles speak, do obsess with the shallow, probably unfounded reasons all the other apostles have minor faults that prevent them from being your favorite apostle.

    * Do not play “Chop Chop, Timber!” with your sister during conference making a loud flopping sound when you fall because you are a dying tree.

    * (For those who are viewing the satellite feed at a chapel:) Do try to keep up with the pace of the song at the Conference Center instead of lagging behind and getting lost for a bar while singing the third verse.

  7. I’ve always wondered what the correct etiquette is when one is watching a tape-delayed prayer on TV. Any thoughts?

    My father used to tape BYU football games to watch after-the-fact. He insisted on doing this because he just got too nervous if he watched them live. The thing I found curious was this: Even though he didn’t know the outcome (we weren’t allowed to tell), he didn’t actually root for BYU when watching the re-broadcast, and he was calm as a cucumber. I guess in his mind he knew the game was already over – so what would be the point of making an emotional investment? Does a tape-delayed prayer fall into the same category? Does this even make sense?

    Warning: My amateur philosopher hat is now on my head and I am having even deeper (and perhaps even sillier) thoughts about the power to influence events when spectators combine mental/spiritual strength through meditation, prayer, chanting, fasting, singing, etc. Luckily for you, I will keep them to myself.

  8. Karen, that was a fantastic list.

    My parents went to the massive conference center because they were under the illusion that they would feel the Spirit better inside the center. Unfortunately they were seated on an extreme side of the center, were very far away and both of them basically commented that they would have been much more comfortable (and felt the Spirit better) if they had been at home, watching it on tv while sitting on the couch.

    I guess many of the freedoms that exist during tv viewing of general conference dissolve once you’re dressed up and sitting in the actual location.

  9. Rosalynde Welch says:

    lol….dying here…. fabulous!

  10. Meganacle is hilarious. I’m going to make sure that I start using that regularly. Maybe I can even use it in the same sentence as “Temple Rectangle” (what I’ve been calling it ever since the Church purchased that street and turned it into a Park).

  11. Steve, I agree with you about the good Adam-Ondi-Ahman arrangement. The hymnbook arrangement sounds like a carnival song.

  12. Sun p.m.: Yay! Adam-Ondi-Ahman!! Good arrangement, too!

  13. That was cute, and fits pretty much what I’ve seen people doing when they watch Conference at Church.

    For the Priesthood Session, no crafts though writing in your journal is ok.

  14. That wasn’t anonymous, that was me! Sorry!

  15. Wistful in WI says:

    They used to include humor in the Ensign (maybe 20-25 years ago?). The name of the column escapes me, but members would write in funny anecdotes and even jokes. Now the Ensigh-n is almost indistinguishable from Watchtower–right down to the graphic design!

  16. Anonymous says:

    To the Ensign? Oh my gosh, that would be funny. I wonder if I’d just get a rejection letter, or if I would get a rejection letter personally delivered by my bishop. :o)

    I love the Ensign, I especially love the warm fuzzy Mormon stories at the end, because they always make me cry…but if they ever intentionally include humor in the Ensign, I’ll have a heart attack…or maybe throw a party…hmmm

    (By the way Aimee, thanks for the compliment!)

  17. yeah, I’m spoiled by public access cable conference in Northern Virginia, and hadn’t even thought about conference in the chapel. The thought made me giggle though….

    Excellent list Durkee. I had forgotten about the audit Sunday morning. :o)