After a three day mission trip to the Netherlands there was one last bit of preaching to do before heading home – inside the airport. This video has been viewed several million times after being posted yesterday.
Our girl preached in the airport on our way home from our mission trip and she proclaimed passionately, full of the Spirit and love! This is how we catch flights ✈️ pic.twitter.com/oyxP923QXK
— N I A – C E R I S E (@niacerise) August 16, 2022
Naturally twitter responded like twitter to the notion.
Please stop this. It’s annoying. These people did not come to the airport to be preached to and it’s totally disrespectful of people who have other religious beliefs.
— Natalie Whittingham Burrell 🐥 (@natlawyerchic) August 16, 2022
Now, Matthew 6:5 says that the purpose of prayer shouldn’t be to put oneself on display, but this isn’t a rejection of public prayer just the motives that some may have (condemning “the hypocrites”).
There’s really no reason to be offended. There’s nothing exclusionary about what I saw on the video.
Now, I’m Jewish and I have memories as a child feeling strange walking into a church, like I was doing something wrong. I’m not sure where that feeling came from, though I outgrew it, and I’ve been a part of Catholic weddings. When other groomsmen took communion, I simply crossed my arms to indicate to the priest that I wouldn’t take part, but that’s only because I didn’t want to disrespect the ritual as a non-believer. Others taking communion wasn’t a threat to me.
Airports Aren’t Prayer-Free Zones
The first airport chapels in the US were Catholic. They began to take off in the 1950s. The very first in the U.S. was at Boston Logan named “Our Lady of the Airways.” The second was at then-Idlewild (now JFK) in New York, “Our Lady of the Skies.”
Religious services in airports aren’t limited to chapels. Chaplains pay a role when dead bodies are moved through airports. (People also die at airports, too.) Chaplains are often the ones to notify family members when someone dies inflight. This can happen with some frequency at the biggest hubs.
Airport police will also sometimes refer problems to the airport chaplain as an alternative to arrest. People behave better around religious figures.
Interestingly there’s no chapel in my home airport of Austin. There’s also no designated chapel space at Las Vegas (where they might need one most!), Los Angeles, or Philadelphia. Dallas Fort-Worth has five.
Alaska used to pass out prayer cards with meal trays. After 30 years Alaska Airlines ended the practice in 2012 (they started offering it only in first class in 2006, when they stopped providing meals in coach). The idea originally came from a marketing executive who brought the practice to Alaska from Continental.
But Doesn’t Christian Prayer Exclude Others?
Perhaps the strongest way this was put out on twitter was as follows:
So I’m sure you’d feel comfortable if a Muslim man or woman were to preach their religion in the airport right?
Or would you be clutching your pearls since it’s not the “right” god?
— LuvΣ (@soLuvSig) August 17, 2022
What if she preach(gospel) in Arabic at an airport?
— sigmon froid (@roccozif) August 17, 2022
The idea that a prayer from the Quran is foreign to aviation seems odd, every time I departed Etihad from the United States this is what played on the ground:
And more broadly the idea seems to be, why privilege Christianity? Airline chapels are interfaith, and some in the U.S. even do have Muslim prayer rooms, here’s one in an Etihad lounge.
It’s Not The Prayer It’s The Noise
I guess I have a hard time seeing the harm in a passenger praying. And by the way I’m Jewish, this isn’t defending my own religion.
But passengers don’t like other people making noise, especially noise that doesn’t fade into the background. It’s not that they’re trying to concentrate per se, just find some peace in the sea of people we’re surrounded by during travel. So in some sense it’s the worst and most annoying time to offer proclamations of any kind.