I'm an agnostic young adult living in America
A few years ago my family and I were at a Lutheran church because my cousin was becoming a pastor. Throughout the whole ceremony I did what I saw others doing- kneeling when they did, singing along, putting my hands together in prayer, etc. I didn't really know what I was doing but I was trying to fit in:
Then everyone got out of their seats and lined up to for the juice/water/etc. and communion wafers at the front. I followed my family and people in front of me and received and ate a communion wafer.
Over the weekend I found out from my boyfriend's family that one is not supposed to eat a communion wafer before one's first communion(? I think that's what I heard them say anyway)
His aunt was more upset by this and said I would be going to hell in a concerned and sad way. My boyfriend's family is Catholic but himself and his siblings are much less religious than their parents and grandparents.
His aunt also said she wouldn't even participate in a communion at a church she did not attend as it would be disrespectful. However his mother said she thinks it's proper etiquette to participate even if you don't attend the church.
This was all new to me and I'm mortified by how I must have looked during my cousin's ceremony. I really wouldn't have taken a communion wafer if I knew I wasn't supposed to. Most people there probably weren't disturbed by my family's actions as we were not confronted and maybe at worst some were thinking: “ignorance of the law is no excuse”
But what is the etiquette for participating at a communion for someone who is not religious? The different perspectives I got from my boyfriend's mother and aunt sort of confuse me. I aim to learn more to properly show respect next time.