Amazed at Grace

Americans are much more overtly religious than Brits, I have found.

At a church service this morning, we tried to sit out of the Communion. An usher summoned me and my husband to partake, but we gave a gentle nod and a slight shake of our heads. This, I assumed, would be sufficient to signal that we wouldn’t be leaving the pew.

Then another, presumably more senior, usher rushed over, leaned into our pew, and told us firmly that all baptized Christians were invited to take Communion. His hand was planted on my husband’s shoulder. This was not an offer we were supposed to refuse.

After the strong-arm Communion tactics, we retreated to brunch with some people from the church. This was prefaced by grace, while all the guests held hands.

The average Brit would think you were kidding if you suggested a group of adults hold hands for any reason — especially a religious one. I think religious beliefs are almost seen as a weakness in the UK. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair didn’t admit to being a practicing Catholic until after he left office, as though it was something that ashamed him.

So maybe more Brits are religious than admit to it — they just don’t feel like practicing in public.

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