A Christ-like Response to the TSA Controversy

What would it look like for us to provide a Christ-like response to the TSA controversy?

As students travel over Thanksgiving break, I've been thinking a lot about this.  I don't want students groped, but I also don't want them blown up.

Most responses I've seen from Christians have been extremely disappointing. 

Today marked "Opt-Out Day," as heralded by Christian bloggers and tweeters across the nation. The vision of "Opt-Out Day" involved thousands of people refusing to submit to the body scan, demanding pat downs and gridlocking the TSA systems.

The protest fizzled, as you can imagine. We Americans flinch from self-sacrifice and, while a lot of people thought it was a great idea, most of us are always running late enough that we just couldn't participate.

In some ways, "Opt-Out Day" resembles a child launching himself to the ground, kicking and screaming, demanding candy or toys when their poor parent just can't afford it. There's a fine line between tantrum and protest.

And this is where we angle in toward the question of Christ-likeness.

Do you think it's Christ-like to make the job of the TSA employees even more miserable? Sure, you can hate Washington and the policies they produce. It's one thing to hate your enemies, it's another thing to hate on the dude who works for your enemy because they need to put food on the table...yeah, the dude who didn't make the new rule, can't change it, and probably doesn't want to do it either. You know, opt-outies, your enemy.

And didn't Christ call on us to love our enemies?

Christians should offer empathy and sympathy to TSA employees. We should pray for them. We should be kind to them. We should treat them with dignity, even when their patting us down.

I mean, how often do we really get the chance to turn the other cheek?


  1. As much as I really hate what I think is a violation of the Constitution that is supposed to be the "Supreme Law of the Land," the right way of defending that belief is to simply deal with the inconvenience of not flying, instead of going to the airport with the premeditated objective of making someone else's day miserable.

  2. Anonymous12:06 AM

    should we feel bad for the Gestapo soldiers that were just putting food on the table?

  3. And Godwin's Law is broken on Steve's blog? This is beyond bizarre.
    TSA folks are not Nazis. They are (with the odd exception that you'll get in any large group) decent human beings who aren't thrilled about groping people any more than we are about being groped. Also, being groped is not being herded onto a severely overcrowded train... you know what, go watch Schindler's List, I haven't got the time for you.
    That being said, it's all security theatre that's entirely unnecessary, and I have no problem making TSA people do their job. They knew the job was dangerous when they took it. Besides, I would rather be groped than have images of me naked floating around. If I am selected to go through a backscatter machine next time I fly, I will opt out.
    However, it's certainly not appropriate for the traveler to take out his/her anger on the TSA person, as "Opt Out Day" suggested. That group of people should consider driving and letting the 86 new members of the House of Representatives know about their displeasure. I suspect the new majority will be looking for an easy issue for a political victory.

  4. On an entirely unrelated note, The Ashes. That is all.

  5. Anonymous Nazi debate ammo? Stand down men, the debate champion has arrived to trivialize World War II.

  6. Allison Pollio2:08 AM

    This is so true! Maybe if people, especially Christians, don't like it, they just should find some other way of getting to where they want to go or they can choose to follow TSA policies when they fly, that's the most peaceful way to do things. Personally, I don't have to travel anywhere for Thanksgiving and even when I did it was only a 2 hour drive.

  7. As extreme as it does seem, the little government teacher voice in my head keeps reminding me that there is no right to privacy in the Constitution (at least, not stated as such ... now, if you're using unreasonable search and seizure for the 4th Amendment that's a different story). It's something that has been made up by court systems along the way, and is almost entirely a 20th century phenomenon.

    If you WERE to use unreasonable search and seizure the courts would probably rule against you because of implied power. The Constitution DOES say a LOT about keeping the country safe. It doesn't say anything about Congress being able to set up a security system quite like this, and maybe the Founders probably wouldn't have liked it, but that is more due to the fact that they could not conceive of such a system, which is why they added implied powers (i.e. the government can do whatever is necessary for the good of the country as things come up in history). Unreasonable search and seizure also typically applies to cases when you are being searched for a crime. I suppose that kind of holds true here, but still not really, because I don't think any court system would call looking for explosives an unreasonable search/seizure in an airport, and it has been proven in the past that our previous methods for detecting such explosives were not successful, so I can understand why TSA wants to take more extreme measures.

    So, the Constitution angle doesn't actually work. Even if you went unreasonable search and seizure, almost invariably the court system rules for the government for the interest of keeping the nation safe. This isn't torture or keeping you from any fundamental right listed in the Bill of Rights or the other 17 amendments after them.

    That said, it doesn't mean that I like it. I still think it's going a bit too far, but there's nothing in our Constitution that forbids it. I suppose this is why the Anti-Feds were apprehensive about the capacity for the growth of federal power under the new Constitution ... and I fully empathize with them.

  8. Thanks for all the comments, folks. I love that you're thoughtful, sarcastic and funny.

    It's important, even in the midst of heated political debate, for us to look for opportunities to pursue Christ-likeness.

    This is true whether we're dealing with the TSA or the Gestapo. :)