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2 Bumps

Prayer on a Plane, not starring Samuel L.

The flight attendants on an Alaskan Airlines flight got their panties in a twist over Orthodox Jews on the flight performing a prayer ritual on the plane. They had the cockpit locked down, and the passengers had to go through FBI questioning when they landed.

Should there be a limit to how someone prays on a plane to avoid other people's discomfort? Should the flight attendants simply have asked them what was going on instead of raising their security level automatically?

Description of what they were doing:

The ritual involves strapping leather ribbons and small wooden boxes containing verses of the Torah to the body while saying morning prayers. A flight attendant became spooked when she saw the men wrapping the straps to their foreheads and arms and praying loudly in Hebrew, and she instructed the crew to lock down the cockpit, Egan said.

Answer Question

Asked by NotPanicking at 12:22 AM on Mar. 14, 2011 in Religious Debate

Level 51 (421,174 Credits)
Answers (20)
  • Should there be a limit to how someone prays on a plane to avoid other people's discomfort?
    No! This wasn't in a school or in a courthouse, the issue of "seperation of church and state" doesn't come into play here, so why should anyone have to "limit" their prayer to avooid other people's discomfort? I say grace before my meals, so if someone sitting in a resturant see's me doing that, and they get offended by it and complain to the manager, should I be asked to leave..or to never say grace over my meals in public anymore? Where does it stop? Example: I don't like seeing homosexuals kiss in public and I don't want my child to see it, but those who do that....are they concerned with anyone else's discomfort? No. Is every "controversial" thing going to be stopped in public because someone might get offended? Gimme a break!

    Answer by popzaroo at 12:30 AM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • I wouldn't yell "Bomb!" on an airplane any more than I would make a spectacle of myself in any other way... KWIM? Bad idea considering the simple reality of airline security.

    Answer by ObbyDobbie at 2:32 AM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • Comparing a very loud "look at me" prayer ritual on an AIRLINER which involves what could very easily be mistaken for explosive devices, to saying grace. Really?.... Then you just HAVE to play the gay card. Wow.

    If this had been a muslim, you wouldn't be reacting this way- you'd feel it was a justified safety measure.
    If it had been a christian, you would have your knickers in such a knot that you wouldn't be able to walk.
    Ability to look at this objectively?

    Answer by ObbyDobbie at 2:36 AM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • They should be aware of these practises. They're jewish, it's not an uncommon religion, and it shouldn't be a reason to raise security. If it were a muslim man saying his prayerns, i wouldn't be concerned either, i see it quite regularly. They are praying.

    Airlines should know about common religious practises for precisely this reason. They weren't doing anything wrong, and they get questioned by the FBI.

    How is it any different to saying grace? They are saying their prayers.

    Answer by Piskie at 4:30 AM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • Oh man, you know if Christians had been questioned simply for praying, it would be a HUGE deal and a HUGE uproar about it.

    The passegers didn't do anything wrong. The airline overreacted....out of fear, which stems from misunderstanding and ignorance. And of course b/c of the history of people taking over our planes in the name of their "god".

    Answer by sahmamax2 at 6:59 AM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • well, i for one am a xtian, and i see nothing wrong with personnel inside an airplane doing anything of this sort, for the safety of the entire plane. she/he obviously took it as odd, for whatever reasons (and no, you can't expect stewardesses to know every kit and kaboodle about every common religious absurd to think so!).
    to me, i take this event as preventative measures. just like i'd take the personnel stopping and questioning anything or anyone. its not about the comfort of one, if the safety of all is in question.
    in a nutshell, i'd rather my airplane personnel be wrong, than be dead. and i don't care who they question.

    Answer by dullscissors at 7:44 AM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • Just based on what I'm reading here, assuming they weren't extremely loud and disruptive of other passengers, I think the flight attendants overreacted. On the other hand, I personally wouldn't do anything disruptive on a plane myself (I wouldn't say certain words, get up a lot, be loud and bothersome to others, etc), because people are already edgy on planes, and people get in fights or generally get in trouble for doing anything disruptive. People are in close quarters there, so you really can't just do whatever you want without bothering the person next to you or near you. I think if they were just praying to themselves out loud in their seats--not blocking aisles or drawing the attention of the entire plane, they should be able to do so. If they were getting up or kneeling in the aisles, I could see why they might be more nervous or might feel that's disruptive of other passengers. Just depends on what happened exactly IMO

    Answer by pam19 at 8:47 AM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • I see both sides to this. I think that those who are inclined to pray should be allowed to do so, but I can also understand the flight attendant's concerns, especially if she was clueless about the method of prayer with that particular religious sect. I don't know if it's practical to ask that all of our flight personnel understand all modes of prayer with every conceivable religion, and we've seen enough strange ways that terrorists have tried to smuggle bombs on board. I wish I had an answer to this, but right now, I'm evenly split between feeling disappointed at the attendant's reaction, and understanding why she would be concerned, albeit erroneously.


    Answer by jsbenkert at 8:49 AM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • I'm on the fence ... on one hand, they (the men) had every right to say their prayers. On the other hand, they probably should have thought about it (the ritual) would look to others who are not aware of their practices.

    BUT with that being said, it should be mentioned that terrorists usually have their shit strapped on BEFORE they get on the plane.

    Answer by SpiritedWitch at 8:57 AM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • I'm on the fence with this too. 1. I think locking down the cockpit was fine. I'm surprised we not flying with it always locked down. 2. I'd rather see caution be the watchword for the airlines. But I'm not sure if there was another way to handle this. I hope there was. 3. I'm shocked at the late hour of morning prayer. 8:30am is a bit late but I'm figuring this may be due to being in the airport and going through boarding. 4. I think the group should have spoke to someone about their religious requirements and try to clear up misunderstandings beforehand. I don't know if they tried to do that or not. The article does not say. 5. How loud is loud? Should airplanes be treated like libraries now? Did they really create a loud disturbance? 6. What does Judaism say about accommodating practices for travel? Did they have to do the morning prayers or could have done something different?

    Answer by isabellalecour at 9:29 AM on Mar. 14, 2011

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