American Airlines Gate Agent Prays Over PA

Filed Under: American

Well this is sure to be controversial. A Twitter user shares a video of an American Airlines gate agent praying over the loudspeaker, in order to have “a moment of prayer for our customers and our nation.” The Twitter user says this was taken by a friend yesterday at gate 38 at Washington National Airport.

In the video, the gate agent can be heard saying the following, among other things:

  • “Teach us just to trust you Father God. With the virus, with the economy, with all that’s going on. Teach us just to trust you, trust you with all our heart.”
  • “Father God, we need love, we need kindness. Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
  • “Oh thank you Jesus, thank you for all that you do for us, Father God.”
  • “Give us the fruits of the spirit.”

Here’s the full video:

View from the Wing argues that there’s nothing wrong with this, that some colleagues and passengers may appreciate it, that there’s no reason to be offended, and that there’s nothing exclusionary about the prayer.

While I suspect the gate agent’s intentions were good (he’s not pushing the Westboro Baptist Church agenda, if they’re still a thing), I don’t agree with View from the Wing:

  • While everyone should have religious freedom, this gate agent was taking advantage of a special privilege he has on account of being a gate agent, which is the ability to use a loudspeaker; other people can’t express their religious views in the same way, so why should he be allowed to broadcast his religious beliefs more than others?
  • Where should the line be drawn here? Would it be appropriate to make a pro-life or anti-gay announcement based on selectively reciting the Bible?
  • Could you imagine if a Muslim gate agent started reciting something from the Quran over the loudspeaker for a US airline?
  • It would be one thing to offer a generic prayer, but the focus on “Jesus” and “Father God” excludes many
  • I’m not sure I fully agree with the message of the prayer — personally I think our coronavirus numbers would be a little bit better if we focused a bit more on science than “trusting” in God (just look at the people arguing that mandatory masks are trying to take away from “God’s breathing system”)
  • If the gate agent wanted to pray, he could have done so while not on duty, and not over the loudspeaker

Sometimes I don’t think it’s wrong for gate agents to offer some sort of positive message over the PA. For example, I think what this Delta gate agent did after Kobe Bryant passed was totally fine:

Anyway, I absolutely believe that the guy meant well, just as I believe that anyone who is praying in a non-hateful way means well. That being said, this is a slippery slope, and there’s simply no place for prayers to be expressed in this way over a loudspeaker, in my opinion.

I can understand that some people may have appreciated this prayer, but I’m sure those people may have felt differently if it was a prayer of a different religion over the PA…

What do you make of this American Airlines gate agent praying?

Comments
  1. If they blared they Muslim call to prayer at an American airport there would be a frenzied panic and run to the exits. This is 100% inappropriate. But there’s a union here so zero discipline can be expected.

  2. We would all be better served as a society if we considered the intentions of the other person before we immediately vented our outrage on Twitter.

  3. @Brian, we would all be better served as a society if those with particular religious beliefs would be considerate of those who do not share those beliefs and not broadcast them in a public place.

  4. @ Brian — To be clear, I don’t think this guy should get in trouble, short of being reminded that this isn’t appropriate. But if it’s not brought up, it’ll just continue.

  5. We are currently investigating the incident, and the gate agent may be expected to face disciplinary actions.

  6. It’s a message of love, how is that inappropriate? If you’re not Christian, just substitute God/Jesus for your own god. If you are an atheist, focus on the content of the message and learn to respect this most important piece of the human condition. If athiests got past their third grade level arguments against religion, they could learn the extremely deep layers of wisdom they hold which are absolutely compatible with a scientific mind.

  7. Putting this in context of location it occurred in a city well outside the Bible Belt. That makes this sound even more out of the ordinary.

  8. To call this “inappropriate, not okay, and insulting” is such an American point of view (yes, I get that this happened in the U.S. Just trying to provide a different perspective). Would a Jew or Muslim be offended if he/she were offered a blessing from a guru while traveling through India? I think Americans are too sensitive about these things.

  9. @Scott – this is not a good counterpoint or comparison. ME countries whose airlines play the Islamic prayer before their flights do not have secular democratic systems where church and state are clearly separated.

  10. Ben, you flag that what the Delta gate agent did is fine, but what the American employee did was not, based on what they were saying. That is concerning.

    Suggesting that there’s a slippery slope once religious statements start being made (“Would it be appropriate to make a pro-life or anti-gay announcement based on selectively reciting the Bible?”) ignores that American already expresses politically – announcing preboarding for active duty military, gifting Business Extra points to minority and LGBTQ businesses – and that making “anti-gay announcement[s]” would be expressly against the airline’s stated values making line-drawing pretty easy there.

    The agent WASN’T making anti-gay announcements. There just wasn’t anything offensive in what they said, whether it resonates with you (or me) or not. The idea that someone sometime might say something offensive doesn’t seem like a reason for prior restraint on things that aren’t offensive.

  11. I’m torn on this one and mostly agree with Gary at WFTW.

    Broadly speaking I’m not in favor of broadcast prayer in public and wouldn’t necessarily want to see it become a regular practice on flights, trains, buses, etc. It’s ultimately a private affair and there is a slippery slope danger.

    However, I am finding it hard to see how someone would truly be offended by this specific incident on an internal, gut emotional level rather than an intellectual PC one. The agent shouldn’t make this a regular practice to be sure, but he obviously meant well and there was no harm done so what is the big deal? Shrug and move on.

    Re: the possibility of equal treatment of Muslim prayers, it’s a tricky subject. It for sure would cause a greater stir stateside, but I also wouldn’t find it inappropriate or get offended if I heard it in the Middle East or East Asia (e.g. Indonesia)–just because a country is secular and welcomes all religions doesn’t mean citizens should not be able to more openly display the religion of the majority of its citizens to a certain reasonable degree. Sort of like in Bavaria where they treat symbols of Christianity in government buildings more as a cultural heritage rather than strictly religious icons.

  12. This is totally out of line. Regardless of the religion, this is not ok. As a customer of an airline I’m not buying a religious service. I’m buying transportation.

    What is even more concerning is that this is done in the authority of a gate agent. Keeping in mind that christian Americans are using their believe to spew hate and suppression on other religions and non-believers and limits our freedom, the agent should immediately be removed from any customer facing positions, as such hate towards others will in inevitable impact the ways this individual treats others.

  13. I remember by first trip aboard Etihad Airways. Complete silence as the plane was taxiing. Quite startled when, out of the blue, came the prayer for travelers.

  14. @Eugene you are missing the point. The agent has a job to do. Their personal beliefs, feelings, intentions are irrelevant. Behavior like this makes me question their mental health and stability and does not reflect well on their employer

  15. And no “I think it’s wrong” from you with the Middle East carriers reciting a prayer to every headset before takeoff?

    Double standards ?

  16. Typical leftiest tolerance.
    Maybe for someone the pride-rainbow used by airlines could be considered as offensive ?

  17. @ Gary Leff — I’m curious, do you think more people would take issue with this if an Islamic call to prayer was played over the loudspeaker at a US airport?

    And I do somewhat take issue with the content of the message, or at least how others have been interpreting it. It’s about “trusting God” to take care of us during this virus. More often than not, the way people have interpreted this is that they don’t need to wear masks, it’s fine to go to church because God will protect people, we shouldn’t be questioning God’s breathing system, etc.

  18. @Lucky

    How is this any different than the prayer at the beginning of every Etihad flight broadcasted throughout the plane through the inflight entertainment system (excluding the fact that one is company sanctioned and the other is not). This occurs on all Etihad flights that depart the United States and globally yet it isn’t disclosed prior to booking a ticket with Etihad.

    I am an atheist and neither the Etihad prayer nor this gate agents pray bothers me nor in my opinion infringes on my rights. Heck, when I have been to Las Vegas in the past, there has been a man with a bullhorn outside the Bellagio reading scripture and telling people to convert to Catholicism to save ones soul.

    While this may be outside American Airlines policies and if so the agent should be reminded of that and asked not to do this again no disciplinary action should be taken initially in my opinion.

  19. @ Simon — As BB noted above, there’s an important distinction. Those are airlines owned by governments that don’t claim to have secular democratic systems.

  20. The airline gate is probably not the place for this. But outside of that, if this offends you or you have no faith, then that prayer was for you.

  21. I stopped reading View from the Wing after his bizarre vendetta with Hawai’i over their lockdown. He saw it as some sort of personal attack against mainlanders who wanted to lounge on a beach. The fact he sees nothing wrong with this doesn’t surprise me. Someone who sees the minority majority state stopping tourism to prevent overcrowded hospitals as a sign of anti-mainlander and racist towards mainlanders (who don’t care about the fact Hawaii is 5 hours from the mainland and has extremely limited hospital capacity but my God he wants to lounge on a beach!) sanctioned law would totally be okay with prayer over a PA in America.

  22. @Simon, I assume you are not an American and so your ignorance can be excused. Middle East countries whose official (national) religion is Islam can and will offer Muslim prayers anywhere and everywhere they wish. The United States does not have an official religion and, more, separates church (religion) and state in its constitution. The broadcasting of a religious prayer in a public place (eg, an airport) violates the spirit if not the law of our country.

  23. Total rubbish. This absolutely delusional sensitivity needs to stop. Why is it so fashionable to hate our traditions and institutions?

  24. @Ben, you note two things.

    “I’m curious, do you think more people would take issue with this if an Islamic call to prayer was played over the loudspeaker at a US airport?”

    Judging from the comments, it’s hard to imagine a greater level of backlash against prayer regardless of the prayer. However as I note in my post, ‘travel while Muslim’ is a real problem, we shouldn’t reify that by shutting down someone who says a Christian prayer too, we should address it.

    “I do somewhat take issue with the content of the message, or at least how others have been interpreting it. It’s about “trusting God” to take care of us during this virus.”

    I think you’re reading especially uncharitably here. While there’s a certain fatalism to some strands of Evangelical Christianity, most often ‘trusting in God’ means that God will guide people to make the right choices and come up with solutions. It doesn’t mean “sit back and relax, God’s got this.” It means ‘by His grace, we’ll figure out a way to get through this.’

  25. So touchy feely secular statements and motivation speeches are okay but not a prayer? Wow.

  26. Thank you to Mercatus Center CFO Gary Leff for making a blinkered claim of what is or isn’t objectively offensive.

    As someone who belongs to a minority religion in this country, it’s actually pretty tiresome to be constantly bombarded by Christian prayer in the public realm. The people who do that really need to keep it to themselves.

  27. JFC, Gary.

    “Judging from the comments, it’s hard to imagine a greater level of backlash against prayer regardless of the prayer.”

    You really think the comments on this post are the greatest imaginable level of backlash against a prayer? You really don’t think an Islamic call to prayer would have prompted a bigger IN-PERSON backlash? Come on, fella.

  28. I’m an atheist and believe religion is a private matter – however, I have no problem with this. He meant well. While there are a lot of religious zealots & wackos, the vast majority of religious people are kind, honest and only want the best for everyone.

    Move on. If anyone is offended I suggest they grow a skin and start concentrating on the important matters in life.

  29. @John wrote:

    “It’s a message of love, how is that inappropriate? If you’re not Christian, just substitute God/Jesus for your own god. If you are an atheist, focus on the content of the message and learn to respect this most important piece of the human condition. If athiests got past their third grade level arguments against religion, they could learn the extremely deep layers of wisdom they hold which are absolutely compatible with a scientific mind.”

    It’s almost like you went out of your way to misunderstand the whole point. And you don’t understand “athiests” (sic) to boot, backed up by your fallacious attempt at an argument. Well done.

  30. This is an EGO motivated prayer. There was no need, nor was it necessary to broadcast. His actions where motivated on attracting attention to his self righteousness.

  31. I’m definitely not religious but this seems like a pretty benign, but misguided, attempt to wish people best wishes. Best thing would be just to have a supervisor thank the guy for the sentiment, but explain there are better ways to go about doing this that aren’t as overtly, specifically, aimed at one religious group.

    For the Etihad comparison, I’m definitely no fan of state religions for a million reasons, but it’s sort of what you get in the UAE, which doesn’t pretend to be a pluralist, liberal, democracy.

  32. I’m not religious at all. In any way. But honestly there is zero reason to be offended by this. If he wants to say a prayer, what’s it to you? Leave him alone. These culture wars in the USA are so painful and ultimately irrelavent.

  33. Well, I’d say the motives behind this whole thingy was just alright. He just wanted to give everyone an assurance and some sort of stress relief from COVID-19, which is why I’d say he decided to recite the poem. But, the United States is a secular country and you can’t force your religious ideas in an airport. Yes, you can pray privately but not publicly where people of different ethnic groups pass by. It could end up hurting their sentiments and that’s NOT something
    @Scott, @Simon – How does the Middle Eastern airlines/airports even act as a counter-argument here? Emirates, Qatar and Etihad (literally almost every airline in that region) come from Middle Eastern countries that aren’t secular. Moreover, these are Sharia-based airlines, which is why Kuwait Airways and Saudia do not serve alcohol on board and it’s completely impossible for you to get some booze in the lounges in Dubai/Doha/Abu Dhabi during Ramadan. You can even hear the Quran being recited over the PA system during prayer times in almost every airport in the region including Dubai/Doha/Abu Dhabi.

  34. This is really crazy to me, but maybe because I’m European and that would absolutely NEVER happen there. And to other’s people point, if the gate agent was Muslim and had recited prayers from the Quran, I can’t even imagine what would happen.

    And Gary – you do not answer that last part. Yes, traveling as a Muslim person IS a problem and it absolutely needs to be addressed, that I agree with. However, how does that specific point answer the question “what would happen if a gate agent was reciting anything but a Christian prayer”? I think everyone knows exactly what would happen. So it’s probably best to leave faith at home or in a place of worship, where it belongs, not in an airport, and let alone from a non government airline.

  35. That prayer was humble and from a place of love. It was beautiful and calming. It showed he cared about the customers flying that day.
    There is nothing wrong here in my eyes.

  36. I think its supercute and one of the most American things I can imagine, that’s what I love in the US. This could never happen here in Europe.

  37. What is morality? What is ethics? What determines if something is right or wrong? Unfortunately making broad statements like “That being said, this is a slippery slope, and there’s simply no place for prayers to be expressed in this way over a loudspeaker, in my opinion.” What standard do you use to determine if something is right or wrong? Is it completely arbitrary? So what you determine is wrong, I can determine is right? I’m just wondering on what standard are you basing your argument.

  38. “Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
    Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’ And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!” It’s now offensive, too.

    If everything is offensive and everyone gets easily offended, then nothing matters anymore. Western societies in 2020. Congrats!

  39. This is not as bad as an AA gate agent going off script and being a carry on baggage nazi.

    This is true even if she started singing prayers to Allah or Sikh prayers.

    A more appropriate prayer would be for safety of the flight and no deaths.

  40. It is absolute garbage. Staff have no right to start reciting a prayer at the gate. He should be employed in a church if he wants to do that. It’s normal in the middle east and in the Philippines they also stop many businesses for an afternoon prayer which is broadcast over the PA in department stores

    The way things are going in the US it would not surprise me if the dotard in chief were to endorse this and make it mandatory, therefore discriminating against other beliefs

    What if the staff were Muslim and started the Adhan ? Imagine the chaos

  41. Hebrew 10:35 don’t cast away your confidence it will be greatly rewarded.

    @Tommy Trash

    Jesus loves you. Don’t compare your life to others. Run your marathon.

    This is not the time to think about defeat . We need to be motivated. Negative situations will turn around.

    With all the bad news in the world today I’m glad to see this story.

  42. No religious inclination should be expressed on an airport P.A. system in a country without a state religion. The gate agent showed a lack of worldliness and an almost smug podunk exclusivity, despite whatever pious intentions he may have had….at an international airport in a nation’s capital !!
    I’m an AA retiree; mgmt. wants scripted wording at gates as much as possible. I hope this person was counseled about his conduct.

  43. As a survivor of 38 years in commercial aviation, I am appalled by the lack of good judgment and professionalism shown by many airline employees who are on the front line. As a former reservation agent, checkin agent, gate agent, flight attendant and airport manager, it is not the responsibility of employees to entertain, berate, proselytize or provide their personal opinions. I can completely understand why people would be especially annoyed and likely offended by this most recent case.

    I wonder if Alaska Airlines still includes prayer cards on its meal trays as it did for so many years?

  44. Throughout the world, there are many different religions. A religion is defined as a system of faith or worship. A person that is religious believes in a controlling power, such as a God or gods. Beliefs vary based on the religion that is followed.

    There are many different religions, but the most popular are Christianity, which is followed by an estimated 33% of people, and Islam, which is practiced by over 24% of people. Other religions include Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism. Of course, there are also a large population – about 1.2 billion people around the world – that are nonreligious or have Atheist beliefs.

    The biggest religion, though, is Christianity, which is practiced by an estimated 2.4 billion people. In Vatican City and the Pitcairn Islands, 100% of the population is Christian. In other nations, at least 93% of the population is Christian.
    Which Will American Airlines approve the one that has the most followers?

  45. No religion in the workplace (unless the workplace is a religious entity) should be the rule of thumb. AA should tell the guy not to do it again and everyone can move on with life.

  46. The thing is, there is a personal and a professional view to this. From a personal perspective, I think it is a nice gesture and I am almost certain that it was well intentioned. Personally, I would not feel offended by it at all, and I also think that nobody else should feel offended.

    From a professional perspective, however, I think it is an issue. American Airlines is not religiously affiliated, and while they may tolerate a certain slack when it comes to individualism in their gate speeches, I know that the procedures and guidelines are strict. So, even if the gesture was well intended, it may not resonate well with all passengers as well as with the company. This is simply not the right place to express and exercise religious beliefs. The problem here is that a gate speech is an official company announcement, and any personal statements therein may be perceived as an official company view. This is actually different in the Middle East, where religious affiliation is in fact an official company view. But even there, there will be limitations in how this affiliation can be displayed by staff.

  47. Entirely appropriate at any airport named after a Republican president. Prayer is our last chance. Houston, you’re next.

  48. Oh boy, how about just leave well enough alone ? There is so much trouble, hate & sickness in the world now. Does the world need another person publicly shamed and fired from there job for something so innocent ?

  49. I think it’s funny that Gary comes on this blog so often to comment or in this case to engage in a debate with Ben and people who are in agreement with him.

    I think maybe everyone should stop being cute and just do their jobs. A prayer is well-intentioned, but unnecessary. Regardless of the religion. And in this case, a not-insignificant number of commenters find it to be inappropriate and even offensive.

    I’m not offended by the prayer, but I don’t believe that there is a mighty Supernatural Force who can either help or hurt us during this pandemic. If I’m wrong and there is a great being out there, please just take away all of the pain and suffering and let us all live happy lives. If all these trials are tests of our faith and love and devotion, I feel very sad that such a being is so lonely as to have to create followers that in order to mete out punishment and reward as they see fit.

  50. @ john, I agree.
    I’m certain other news outlets will pick it up but this site arguably has a bigger reach.
    This person (of color btw) will likely be punished. The author should have thought twice — particularly in light of the “Support Equality” banner at the top of the page.
    While this may be a ‘travel adjacent’ topic, I fail to see how it relates to premium travel, which I assumed was the point of this blog.

  51. Do we not extend “Thoughts and prayers” to friends and family when they lose their loved ones? Would you get offended if someone said that to you? We are living in a very confusing world where it makes us feel uncomfortable and uncertain to be a good samaritan or just someone with a good heart and intentions. Lucky, you have been very open about being gay and you have never been afraid to let your readers know about it. However, call me naive, but for someone interested in reading ONLY about travel related information, I was a bit uncomfortable at first when I came across articles about being gay and how it affected your travels and etc. It doesn’t bother me as much now since I’ve been your fan for several years. I believe we need all the prayers we can get now more than ever. Maybe we are in this situation due to lack of thoughts and prayers.

  52. Allahu akbar. Hamdilla. Inshallah.

    The same people objecting this story don’t blink an eye everytime they read the qaran before takeoff on Etihad.

  53. People get offended so easy these days.

    Not just religion, even skin colors.

    #ESAarePetsMatter

  54. @D3Kingg, Read it clearly, I am pasting a part of my earlier comment for your reference.

    *How does the Middle Eastern airlines/airports even act as a counter-argument here? Emirates, Qatar and Etihad (literally almost every airline in that region) come from Middle Eastern countries that aren’t secular. Moreover, these are Sharia-based airlines, which is why Kuwait Airways and Saudia do not serve alcohol on board and it’s completely impossible for you to get some booze in the lounges in Dubai/Doha/Abu Dhabi during Ramadan. You can even hear the Quran being recited over the PA system during prayer times in almost every airport in the region including Dubai/Doha/Abu Dhabi.*

  55. I hope all 6 people in that terminal filed a complaint.

    Just remember everyone: tolerance. As long as we are taking about tolerating what I want tolerated.

  56. My personal opinion is that religion is like genitalia: you’re welcome to yours, but I don’t want to hear/see it. Keep it to yourself. It infuriates me how culturally privileged Christianity is in America, to the detriment of every other religion. It’d be much less upset about this if we lived in a country where a Jew, a Muslim, or a practitioner of any other religion that isn’t Christianity could get away with this. As things stand, they couldn’t. This flight attendant is benefiting from the privileges our culture grants Christianity and its practitioners. I have a hard time seeing past that to the “sentiment” within.

  57. I don’t think it’s offensive, and it was almost certainly well-intentioned, but it is pretty unprofessional. When you are on the clock as a front-facing customer service employee of a company, your statements are the company’s statements (it would be the same if he made a political statement I agreed with or if he said a prayer from a different faith). At the end of the day it’s mostly innocuous (at worst I think it would make some feel slightly uncomfortable and a little weirded out) and I don’t think he should be punished, but it’s still inappropriate. It just feels somewhat presumptuous thinking that everyone at the gate would appreciate or benefit from this explicitly religious statement.

    That said, I don’t see how Ben’s post displayed any “outrage.” He wasn’t like up in arms about it, he was only expressing ambivalence about it’s appropriateness, given the setting and the GA’s position and the fact that his audience about to board the plane was more or less captive. Most of the outrage seems to be coming from those who take any pushback against public displays of Christianity as some sort of attack. I don’t think anyone was was slightly discomfited by this hates Christians or is attacking Christianity.

  58. @Hasse You’re clearly the missing link in the evolution of intelligence. That much is clear. I reckon that you’re also a bigot, based on your bigoted comments about Christians in America. Spewing hate? Wrong. Most Christians are not hateful people. Second of all, you basically said that anyone who is Christian should be removed from their positions. How is that not intolerant? You spewed hatred and bigotry while accusing others (by incorrectly lumping all American Christians together) of doing that.
    Momma always said: “It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

  59. As a devout atheist, I don’t find this remotely offensive. Just a bit weird.

    I also don’t see how this has anything to do with religious freedoms/beliefs or separation of church and state. AA would be free to implement “gate agent-led pre-flight prayer” nationwide if it wanted to. It hasn’t. And individual gate agents shouldn’t really be taking it upon themselves to try to do so.

  60. People can practice their religions in their homes or worship houses but religions have no place on public forum and policies. Religion is the number one killer in human history, besides mother nature catastrophes. Heck, Europe experienced one hundred year religion war in its history. Religions and sciences are incompatible because religions demand beliefs and total submission while sciences require data and evidences. It is ambiguous to many to see ” A Nation under one God” sign in court houses and governments capitol buildings. Yet, the Constitution guarantees freedom to practice all religions. Employees nowadays fail to keep controversial issues out of work place to reflect positive image of their companies by projecting professional languages and conducts and appropriate behavior. Reading previous comments shows Americans display such an astounding lack of knowledge and comprehension of world cultures, religions, and forms of governments. Islamic Sharia laws govern public policies and civil regulations at home and workplaces. It controls all aspects of life. We don’t trust other people to understand and exercise our rights that put societal interests above their selfish indulgences.

  61. @bruh

    I wish there was a max character amount per comment. Some people write essays and on hot topics I can’t read all the comments that would take multiple days.

  62. There sure are a lot of intolerant and non inclusive liberals making their voices heard on this thread.

  63. @Jesse

    While I agree that it’s a bit extreme to accuse the GA of spewing hate for saying a prayer, it’s also a bit much to say that criticizing the GA for engaging in an explicitly religious prayer is bigoted towards Christians. Christians are the dominant religious group in this country, but they are still not the only group in this country. I’m sure AA, like most companies has policies about making explicitly religious statements while acting as a public facing representative of the company. No one is saying the GA can’t have personal religious beliefs or even that he couldn’t have said that prayer to himself over the flight and passengers. The issue arises when he takes it upon himself to share those beliefs with others while being paid to represent AA.

    AA is not an explicitly religious company like say, Hobby Lobby, or from a non-secular country like Emirates, and people don’t buy a ticket on AA expecting to hear explicitly religious messaging, even if there was nothing inherently offensive about them. It would be completely different if Ben expressed the same ambivalence about similar statements being made when he flew Emirates or shopped at Hobby Lobby since he should have known that could be the case. It’s simply inappropriate for the GA to make explicitly religious statements in his official duties as a representative of AA. He can do that on his own time.

  64. @KL What’s intolerant about saying that it’s inappropriate for someone getting paid by AA to be a public facing representative making explicitly religious statements while serving in that capacity. AA is a secular company. Most of us liberals (including Ben) aren’t “offended” by it, it’s just that it’s the wrong place and time to do so and at worst find it mildly exclusionary and off-putting.

  65. This is America and we have a long tradition of separation of church and state. This was American Airlines in a domestic U.S. airport. A prayer in this setting is not appropriate and not just potentially offensive, but as you can see, has actually offended a number of people.

  66. “Teach us just to trust you Father God…”

    I’m completely fine with this sentiment, so long as he’s willing to stick with it. He can trust “just God”, while we trust masks, modern medicine, and social distancing.

    Looking forward to checking in with this guy and those like him in a year to compare outcomes.

  67. @Chris – As a private entity yes, American Airlines could choose to have prayers the same way they can fire someone for saying something inappropriate that might be considered “free speech” because they are not a government organization and the first amendment of the constitution relates that you can say what you want about government so long as your not making personal threats.

    However, AA does not own the airports they serve. The airports are owned by organizations that are usually tied to government organizations. Essentially it is having a prayer inside a government-sponsored building which is not ok especially in an airport run by an organization that is directly authorized by the United States Congress.

  68. Hello
    You live in a Westminster system based on Christianity. Just as Muslim
    carriers recite the Quran prior to flights while the vast majority of pax are non Muslim renders your objections backward, let alone ‘looney left’ in logic. Sometimes I wonder about your posts.

  69. Faith and denomination are irrelevant here. Contrary to what some people would like to believe, the United States was not founded on the idea that some faith should be its ethical foundation. Indeed the founders specifically wrote religion out of public life and wrote in all sorts of statutory safeguards to keep it that way.

    Expressions of faith belong in private places where they are protected speech. What some people of faith don’t seem to get is that for many Americans, any message with a God behind it is quite offensive. Many Americans are ethical people living ethical lives, but they really, really don’t want to hear about your God any more than they want to hear about your fantasies involving freshly shaved K-Pop stars or your fetish for smelly fungus-ey size-7 feet. That’s private, ya know.

    The test of this would be if the AA agent offered a sincere prayer to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, that famous diety: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster, instead of the agent’s “Father God.” What would your reaction be? Some of the motivations may be good. The belief may be earnest. But in America, it’s presumptuous and weird to share and evangelize these feelings to others. Enjoy Father God and Pastafarianism in private, along with your K-Pop stars and smelly feet.

  70. I agree he should not be punished, but he should be told that he cannot use the mic for “stand up” in this manner (of any kind.) I don’t mind a kind or positive thought but this was akin to preaching. American Airlines is in trouble with its announcement today about selling full planes; I am not flying AA ever. again. never. I’m done. They are the worst carrier. And it isn’t the preaching….

  71. If the guy is having a bad day and needs religion in his life that day then I’d suggest he takes a PTO day. I don’t want or need to hear about it.

  72. Totally unacceptable! There are millions of people (very good people with not hate in their hearts) that don’t believe in God. If I were there I will be playing loud music with my speaker or singing . The gate is not a church! If you want to pray then go to a church or do it privately.

  73. While it personally does not bother me I guess the atheists and haters on this site will have a field day calling for this employees immediate firing.

  74. @Cmorgan, you don’t seem to want to care why speaking out against this sort of thing is important to the country’s future. This isn’t about atheists being “offended”.

  75. I would be very offended if I heard this in the airport from a particular business. The US has a separation of church and state. We are not a society based on religion, or any one religion. This individual, with their microphone, works for a company that pays him to say and do things that are airline and safety related. No where in their rulebook does it say anything about spouting your own opinion to the public that pays your salary while on company time. Freedom of speech does not come into play when you are being paid by someone to do a job that asks you to do certain things. Common sense and logic sometimes have free reign but personal statements, prayers etc that reflect your personally held beliefs do not. I should know. I have been a gate agent. What if he started asking people to vote for the Trumpeter, or Biden or anyone running for office? That would be equally as wrong. What if he advertised that he used H&R Block to do his taxes and how great or bad they were? That would be wrong too. Companies are firing folks for making racist statements even when on their own personal time. This is an employee “on the clock” with the influence of a microphone. That is why it is unacceptable. There is a reason religion and politics should never be brought up at the dinner table, as it incites overly passionate feelings that can get out of hand.

  76. Atheist here. You nailed it Lucky. I’ll have to read what Gary said before I pass judgment.

  77. While it was totally inappropriate, and somewhat insulting, no question, what’s the harm done here? The gate agent was probably well meaning, and just needs a gentle lecture.

    Not sure why this is being shared on this blog- it’s not really aviation specific except that it happened at an airport.

  78. Well I guess we live in a world where religion is wrong. Although this was somewhat inapropriate, you don’t have to crucify him over it.

  79. I wish Boeing would start tossing truckloads of virgins into a fire to help get the 737 flight control system fully rectified.
    Throw another truckload into the fire and ask for divine intervention the FAA will certify.

    Offer the virgins free upgrades and drinks on their flights to Seattle. Hell, use my points.

  80. All this suggests to me is that the employee at the gate has no confidence that the pilot and other crew can get the job done.

    Not a great look…

  81. What if he had said “Father Satan”? Still okay with it? His belief is his belief and he’s fully entitled to it. My belief is mine and I have an equal entitlement. Since I doubt I could pray to Father Satan over a microphone in a gate area, why is it okay that he prayed to “Father God”? It was inappropriate no matter how well-intentioned (and I do think it was well-intentioned, just inappropriate).

  82. As Christians we are expected to praise God openly and urge others to do the same. We urge you to join us for your own sake as well as ours. Jesus asked very little of us, but he explicitly asked us to love one another. While I would not normally be expressing my religious views on this blog, since the question has been raised, I feel comfortable doing so.

    But as Americans, whether Christian or not, we are absolutely required to defend your right not to believe in our God and not to be forced to practice our religion and not to be shamed or embarrassed or discriminated against for your own personal beliefs. It would be best if the gate agent took his beliefs to the chapel, which I’m sure exists in the airport. Or at least toned it down a little.

    While there are a few crazy commenters on this post, it seems most people have reasonable, well-thought-out arguments for why this particular exercise of religious freedom might be inappropriate. I find it heartening that so many people who don’t believe in God, or aren’t sure, or have another religion are asking that this guy just be left alone. That’s the true spirit of America. And most liberals actually are liberal. They are not angry and full of hate anymore than most conservatives are. Most people just want to get along. Given the depths to which most public comment sections can descend these days, I find most of the threads on this blog to be mostly filled with reasonable people who can respectfully agree to disagree. Lucky has developed a very special following and I’m proud to be part of it.

  83. What a load of bloody crap. Where do these clowns get off doing things like this? That is not their platform or private space to do such things. Only in america and only with a US carrier.

  84. Totally agree with you, Ben – don’t agree with Gary in the slightest. There is no place whatsoever for this stuff at an airport. If they want to pray they can do it in private or at church, not on a tannoy they have control of. TBH it beggars belief that they thought this was OK, but having seen the Florida hearings re facemasks I guess they seem quite sane in comparison…

  85. No! No! No! Just NO!!
    Keep your f**ked up religious clap-trap out of the country’s airports!
    Fun Fact: No amount of prayer can wish away Covid-19.

  86. This is great! I love outspoken followers of Jesus. I mean, Jesus was pretty outspoken Himself, right? America needs healing, and the Great Physician is the only who can do it in a lasting way.

  87. This is totally awesome. Imagine a time when someone cannot display his or her faith. Undoubtedly this agent has love for his fellow employees as well as the people he serves. I think it is absolutely amazing anyone would be upset over this. Imagine if this man’s God is real. All who are upset, might as well consider themselves “unblessed.”

  88. As a Catholic I’m highly offended by this. It is antithetical to Christian teaching. We are not to make a spectacle of our faith, and this is exactly what he’s doing. Matthew 6:5-6 states, “ When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.”

    This guy is a heretic.

  89. @trust778

    It’s not “blasting Christians for what they believe in”. It’s being critical of Christians for insisting that everyone hear their Christianity. It’s objecting to the accommodations that Christians insist the country — and the government — provide them, as though Christianity is the official, state-sponsored religion.

  90. Totally inappropriate. Counsel the guy. One more stunt like that and you are out the door.

  91. Anyone who didn’t have some noise-canceling headphones at hand was subjected to hearing this employee’s religious thoughts over a public address system. He was representing a secular corporation.
    Having survived thirteen years of Catholic school (kindergarten through high school), I don’t object to seeing an Orthodox Jew or a Muslim performing their required prayers during a long international flight. This employee was basically preaching to a captive audience.
    The Delta employee seemed quite annoying. I thought that maybe she was channeling the “pie in the sky” Reverend Ike. She would be best suited for a career as an obnoxious DJ at catered events.

  92. If I wasn’t convinced before that a lot of Americans of this generation are weak, petty-minded, and easily offended then this incident has well and truly convinced. That worker was extending their love and well wishes to the people present. But from the overblown reactions, you’d think they were foaming at the mouth with incitement to murder and genocide. I don’t care if someone wishes me well in a secular or religious manner; I will gratefully take their love without reservation. Because we could all do with a bit of love right now.

  93. @shaun
    The issue is that they are a customer facing employee, when they are on the job they represent the company. Having a religious belief is well and good but when you are praying over the loudspeaker as a company representative is not their job. Making a non-informational announcement is well and good but religion creates issues as it alienates people. You can agree or disagree all you want but the company does not or should not allow a representative of the company to expound their political or religious beliefs to customers. Those topics create illicit a lot of emotions, many times negative, which you do not want in an aircraft.

  94. @A2Mark You’ve got it so right. What so much of America calls Christianity is just another form of egocentric behaviour. “Look at me. I’m more Christian/God Fearing than you (and therefore a better person)”.

    I’m not sure if I’d have found this agent’s behaviour annoying or embarrassing. Certainly, I’d have judged it inappropriate, and by implication, an indicator that the Corporation (AA) had poor recruitment and training policies for customer facing employees.

    Or, on a lighter note, if flying American Airlines, prayer may be a wise way to start your journey!

  95. We are currently investigating this incident. Dependent on other factors, this may or may not be in breach of American Airlines’ policy towards diversity, if we have found any breaches of the policy, the gate agent may face disciplinary actions.

  96. I‘m personally not offended by this prayer. However, I‘d like to know by the commenters who find it inappropriate if they are equally objecting to state or airline employees wearing religious headwear?

  97. There’s nothing wrong with this.

    I think some people in this comments section don’t have a good understanding of what aeration of church and state means. The idea is that the state will not discriminate based on religion, and that the church/religious laws will not interfere with the state.

    In this situation, it wasn’t even an issue of church and state, as American Airlines is not a government entity (private inaugurations such as airlines can support a single religion all they want). But even if AA was a government airline, the issue of church/state separation would only come in place of the airline was forcing religious law upon travelers. Merely praying has nothing to do with church/state separation.

  98. I find the responses and upset about this really laughable. To those that use the secular separation of church & state feign of outrage, what does your dollar say about this?

    “In God We Trust”

    What if this individual has no choice because, “He is a person of faith; born this way.”

    You see, when you open the door for personal beliefs and decisions to be broadcast and, in some cases imposed, acceptable in the workplace (take a knee, I choose to sleep with, I have outdoor plumbing but feel like I should have indoor plumbing etc.) you must accept everything requesting entry. Equality is an opportunity afforded to all and should be without prejudice right?

    Again, check your dollar and then tell me the USA is strictly secular.

    Just my $0.02

  99. Because there are no bigger problems than a gate agent reciting a prayer over the PA. So many Americans have messed up priorities.

    If you’re so obsessed with ensuring that God is deleted from American society, please tell the President to stop finishing his speeches with “…and may God bless the United States.” and perhaps it’s time to modify the greenback to delete “In God We Trust”.

  100. @Always Flying Somewhere

    Yes, with the “red scare” of the 1950s well behind us, it is long past time to remove references to deities from our currency.

    Trump says what he says to pander to his base. But you already know that.

  101. I’m not Christian and I don’t find it offensive. It’s part of American culture that many of us pray to Jesus. I’ve taken flights on Malaysia Airlines and Royal Brunei Airlines and they blast the Islamic prayer before flights. It’s their culture; I just zone out. I’m certain Muslims would be upset if Christian prayers were said before their flights in their countries. But this happened in America and the only prayer that is fitting in public here is a Christian prayer.

  102. 1. This isn’t about gov’t action — First Amendment doesn’t apply here. Prior restraint is irrelevant.

    2. I think the inappropriateness of this depends on the rules established by AA. Are employees allowed to make announcements as they see fit, or are they restricted to communications related to flight operations?

    3. Rules about speech should be written and applied in a content neutral manner. If you are OK with a gate agent praising Kobe, but not OK with another one saying a prayer–of any religious affiliation–then that’s a problem.

  103. As a non-Christian I don’t find it insulting or offensive, but I do find it objectionable and would be uncomfortable. I don’t doubt the good intentions of the gate agent, but American Airlines is a secular company in a country that does not have a state religion. Additionally, Airlines are often like utilities, you don’t have much of a choice. I choose not to go to Hobby Lobby or Chick Fil A because of their policies. Since I live in an American Hub, I don’t always have the ability to fly on a different carrier. If I flew an ME based airline I’d have a different set of expectations and wouldn’t object. I’m sure American has policies that cover this situation and I hope the Gate Agent is told in a kind way why this is inappropriate.

  104. Gate agents should stick to the script and not get personal. However many will deviate from the script. Praising an accused rapist (Kobe) or reciting a prayer are both deviations. Both need to be reminded that its not appropriate and move on.

  105. America is a Christian country. I am going to church tomorrow. Well virtual church via youtube. I was raised Jewish and it was very uncomfortable for me. Now I am at peace with myself and Jesus.

  106. I’m thinking a short prayer over the PA before all PIA flights might be appropriate.
    As for the deluded AA gate agent, a rambling pseudo-Christian monologue is totally inappropriate.
    I’m not alone in thinking the self-serving ‘evangelical’ garbage popular in the US with less than half the population has very little to do with main-stream Christianity, not that I’d wish to hear that at a airport either.
    Have whatever belief which takes your fancy, just keep it private.

  107. @D3kingg

    You can solve this debate right now by showing us the document defining the US as a Christian country”.

  108. I’m sure the Christian hate is overflowing in these comments (haven’t read them yet) but just as the left says when someone objects to someone bring their politics to their work, it’s a private organization. You don’t have to do business with them. Here’s the Truth. No one is excluded because God welcomes all. Our country would be in less of a mess if we all showed more concern and love for others. This actually would be encourage mask usage, because the primary beneficiary of using the mask is not you, but others. I don’t like wearing a mask when I am in a store but I do it because it’s considerate. You seem quick to defend Islam in aviation but similarly quick to condemn Christianity in aviation. Maybe think about that.

  109. @BB as so many are quick to say, whether applicable or not, with free speech rights, those amendments do no apply to a private company. AA is not the state so this prayer has zero to do with Separation of church and state. None.

  110. To those who keep erroneously bringing up church and state – several of you – how does that apply? Where is the state here? Also, what do you say about Facebook and Twitter silencing conservative viewpoints? Does that violate at least the spirit of the first amendment?

  111. I can’t believe how many people think that the intentions were innocent or well meaning. I think he very well knew that he was pushing his pablum on company time to people who were not in his congregation, so to speak. Fire him.

    Thoughts and prayers!

  112. Will all those passengers at that gate who replied…. AMEN… at the end of the gate agent’s prayer, qualify to receive on board an extra bag of pretzels ?? ( assuming that flight’s catering had any)

  113. @Derek: you do realize that airports are owned by municipal government entities (in the case of Reagan National, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority)? It’s a government-owned-and-run facility and therefore is unambiguously “the state”, just as much as a post office or a DMV.

  114. Just a question if the gate agent mentioned “black lives matter”, or “Blue lives matter” what would your response be? We are all expected to act in a professional manner and not make waves at work. It sucks but we’re all adults.

  115. @Hey_It’s_That_Guy

    Check the origin of the phrase on our currency and you will see just how tied to a deity our government isn’t, despite the religious right’s claims to the contrary.

  116. @Marci: Yes many airports are owned by the government. So I suppose Emirates, Etihad, etc. will have to cease operations to all such airports by that reasoning? No. That is not what separation of church and state means.

  117. @Dan That is kinda the point. Companies bring issues not related to their core business into the “office” all the time. I really am not interested some political or other views that are “forced” upon me by some businesses and/or their employees. I have a simple choice – I can not do business with them and in some cases, I have chosen not to. Ironically, I suspect that many of those who are so upset by this prayer which certainly does nothing to hurt them, takes away none of their rights, etc. would be all for the political messages in the business arena that offend me. They can’t have it both ways (though I am sure this person will be reprimaded but the employee pushing what would be generally seen as left-wing positions won’t be). Such is political hypocrisy in modern America. There are myriad reasons for this but I won’t go into that on a travel blog.

  118. @Derek that is so true, I worked with a few anti religious people that couldn’t STFU about religious hypocrisy while spouting their own version of hypocrisy especially during election time. It got so bad that agnostic people complained to management about them.

  119. While I wouldn’t do it, I wouldn’t be offended. I hope that people of all faiths are praying for the very same things this person was. Our world needs some help here.

  120. Jesus’ lasting commandment to His followers was to love God and to love your neighbor. Check, and check.. If you choose to play a victim here, to be offended, goodness, you are just actively looking for something to get bent about, to be unhappy about. If you’re offended by this person’s outward display of love, through an open prayer, then you, friend, need that message the most. During this particular time, we all need to do some serious reflection and find ways to show serious love to others, as well as to be receptive of love shown from others into our own hearts. I wish God’s peace and love to each of you.

  121. Professionally, I think its inappropriate, but not damning. Definitely not enough for people to be offended about. Heck, I would not be offended even if the lady had a Muslim prayer (if she was Muslim). These days, I mean, I’m willing to bet, that most of these same people that were offended by it, would probably say they were not offended if a Muslim employee citing Muslim prayer, and it was not unprofessional at all.

    I’m atheist, so I don’t have a bias to either.

  122. “Jesus’ lasting commandment to His followers was to love God and to love your neighbor. Check, and check.. If you choose to play a victim here, to be offended, goodness, you are just actively looking for something to get bent about, to be unhappy about. If you’re offended by this person’s outward display of love, through an open prayer, then you, friend, need that message the most. During this particular time, we all need to do some serious reflection and find ways to show serious love to others, as well as to be receptive of love shown from others into our own hearts. I wish God’s peace and love to each of you.”

    This right here is part of the problem. People like you have this need to expose everyone to your beliefs. You expect everyone to treat the myths from your religious tome as fact and as the basis for our interactions.

  123. Was the gate agent praying to the same God that sent the new coronavirus in the first place?

  124. @Chuck, to believe and follow God is your choice. In fact, God gives you that choice. However, so long as you choose to interact with society, there is no right nor practical way to place yourself in a bubble where you only hear things you agree with and like. You sure don’t have a right to silence others because you do not like what they say. That is called freedom of expression.

  125. @DavidB, if God “sent the coronavirus” maybe the right question is why was that necessary for our world? If so, perhaps it says more about our world and the behavior of the people in it than it does about God.

  126. @Derek, what I hear isn’t the problem. It’s the insistence, even by people like you, it seems, that all of us accept your inclusion of Christianity into every facet of public life. You have decided that Christianity is the correct religion, and that we all must support your decision for the group. “In fact, God gives you that choice.” This is how it’s done… express some opinions and then assert, not so subtly, that your deity is the one who allows me to believe what I believe. What a load of BS. I’m sure you know that you’re doing it; it’s how you build your army, because the more people who believe your delusion, the less you have to care about whether your delusion is correct.

  127. @Chuck, where did I insist you accept anything? Please do not suggest I said something I did not. I am free to include anything I want in my life and so are others. You are free to disregard it. That’s all you are entitled to and, likewise, I can have the same opinion of any views you choose to make. I disagree with your conclusion in your response, but I respect that you are completely free to put it out for others to consider. The only time that changes is when government tries to force something that violates the Constitution. That certainly does not apply here.

    As for your conclusion about God, that is yours to make. And if you wind up being right and I am wrong, well you are none of the worse off nor am I. I don’t think any reasonable person can claim that the gate agent’s prayer did any material harm to anyone. I don’t think any reasonable person can argue that loving your neighbor and helping others and the poor hurts society. You may disagree. But, if I am right and God is the one and true God, where does that leave you when your life is over? I can’t force you to accept any view nor would I try. Ultimately, Christian faith is about choice. I sure can and will make the point to you and anyone else who wishes to read that point. I respect your decision and theirs on how to respond, positive or negative.

  128. I am a Hindu and I don’t think this is offensive. All the atheists and people of other religion feeling offended are just bigots who refuse to coexist with others and find other people’s religions offensive. If one’s religion or prayer offend you, you have a problem, not the other person.

    As a non Christian, I find nothing wrong with another person praying to their god be it Jesus or Moses or Buddha.

  129. @suresh, as a religious person, you find nothing wrong with other people’s expression of religion? Wow, color me surprised.

    Those of us who object to this aren’t “offended”, and the longer you continue to fail to understand this, the longer we will fight about it. The US is not a theocracy.

  130. @Chuck Care to explain what a PRIVATE business has to do with your false implication that there is a “theocracy?”

  131. @Derek, again, stop pretending to be obtuse. Where did this incident occur? I know you’re smarter than this. Up your game.

  132. @Chuck, do you not understand the question? Or are you just dodging and refusing to answer because you know as well as we all do that this has NOTHING to do with a “theocracy?”

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