Wednesday, March 16, 2005

On Religion on Our Trays

Chris, over at Crooked Timber, had a post that led to some heated comments. Apparently, Alaska Airlines places a Bible verse on its meal plates and has offended or irritated non-Christian passengers. Here are a few comments that struck me as interesting and reasonably representative of the discussion thread.

Nick Fagerlund, in the 13th comment, says:
>_< >_< >_<
Jet, can you, in all seriousness, imagine a US-based airline putting holy texts from any – FU[**]ING ANY, mind you – other religion? Maybe there’s an even chance of you being told a little something about the eightfold path next flight you take? Or a little bit of poetry from the Koran? Hell, even the relatively agnostic Tao?
No? Then it’s an example of Christian Privilege. Look, I’ll freely stipulate that there are currently other, bigger things to worry about. But don’t go on about how there’s no problem here and we just need to swallow it. Captive proselytization like this is crass, obnoxious, and arrogant. (Legal, maybe; no one’s disputing that. But boorish in the extreme.) If you’re a Christian business and fully intend to preach the word, the least you can do is work a little Jesusfish into your logo or something. Don’t masquerade as secular.
Matt McGrattan, in the 7th comment, writes:
You don’t have to want to BAN the Biblical verses. It’s not a free speech issue. It’s an issue of crass proselytizing in a context where one might have reasonable expectation that one might be free from it. So all the libertarians can get off their high horse.
Keith, in the 30th comment, writes:
I find it odd that More Christians don’t find it offensive that their holy scripture is stencilled on in flight bags of patato chips, hamburger wrappers and everything else. But hay, why stop there? Why not biblical verse on the toilet paper and airsick bags as well.
Chris [different from the poster, I think], in the 41st comment, says:
I recently saw a TV commercial for the Jaguar automobile based on a “seven deadly sins” theme. I think a similar ad has appeared in print. E.g., you “lust” after its smooth curves, the reclining seats let you indulge your “sloth,” etc. Is everyone offended by that, too? I mean, you don’t like reading Christian messages on your airplane napkins, and the Christians don’t like using their religion as a joke to sell fancy cars. It kind of seems like folks on the secular left need to decide which it’s going to be: are we all to avoid offending one another’s religious or areligious sensibilities in public, or are we to treat religion as a subject like any other, appropriate fodder for public debate, public jokes, and sincere public statements as well?
If pushed, I think that I would say Chris and and Keith's posts resonate with me the most. What's your take on the issue?


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