Last week I mentioned that I'd been the unlucky recipient of an intimate encounter with a TSA agent. As many more Americans have undergone the "how's your father" with the agents, stories have been getting out about Americans wondering how much of this is security versus security theater. Here's one mom's story. Here's Penn Jillette's account. When I had the agent touching my genitalia, I wondered how much of my discomfort was related to my religious views. I thought someone should interview various religious figures for their views. That still hasn't happened but I did come across this Associated Press report that touches on what TSA's response would be if someone had religious objections:
WASHINGTON -- The Transportation Security Administration says airline passengers won't get out of body imaging screening or pat-downs based on their religious beliefs.
TSA chief John Pistole told the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday that passengers who refuse to go through a full-body scanner machine and reject a pat-down won't be allowed to board, even if they turned down the in-depth screening for religious reasons.
"That person is not going to get on an airplane," Pistole said in response to a question from Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., on whether the TSA would provide exemptions for passengers whose religious beliefs do not allow them to go through a physically revealing body scan or be touched by screeners.
Civil rights groups contend the more intensive screening violates civil liberties including freedom of religion, the right to privacy and the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches.
I'd love to know more about this. Specifically, how is freedom of religion violated with these invasive scans? I get the 4th amendment and privacy concerns. And I have been contemplating the religious implications. I just don't know what various religions have to say about strangers touching your business.
Unfortunately the story doesn't really get into that. We learn that the Electronic Privacy Information Center is one of several civil liberties groups suing TSA to stop the nudie pics. These groups argue that they're not just violating civil rights but also unable to detect powdered explosives or explosives placed in the rectum. I didn't even know anyone was. Other groups are worried that the machines haven't been tested well enough to determine what health risks, if any, exist.
The director of EPIC says that civil rights groups, libertarians, airline passengers, pilots and religious organizations are joining together in opposition. But we don't learn anything about who these religious groups are. It's very hard to even know how to respond to the arguments presented by these religious groups when we don't know who they are or what they're saying.
CNS reports that the question about religious exemptions was raised in response to the Council on American Islamic Relations advocating that female Muslims resist full body pat downs.
Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research has a blog post up advocating resistance. And he notes that other Christians are suggesting the same. I'd like to know more about other religions, too. What do Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans and other folks have to say about it? The news that there will be no religious exemptions for naked pictures or touching of the genitalia is a great hook to explore this topic.