Religious Groups Protest Airport Body Scanners: Friday News Roundup

Two Muslim women in the U.K. were barred from boarding a flight from Manchester to Pakistan for refusing to pass through “naked” airport body scanners, sparking a debate over whether the scanners violate religious laws on modesty.

The scanners have been introduced in a number of airports since the attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day. They show a detailed outline of all parts of a a person’s body.
Responses to the scanners were mixed. While many Muslims are adamantly opposed to the scanners (the Fiqh Council of North America issued a fatwa against them last month), Jews, Christians, Buddhists and Hindus seem more flexible, if still somewhat concerned.
"It is a violation of clear Islamic teachings that men or women beseen naked by other men and women. Islam highly emphasizes ‘haya’ (modesty) and considers it part of faith.”
"Everything in Buddhism is a matter of intent. If the screening is done to oppress and in a way that is insensitive, then it’s bad," said Andrew Olendzki, executive director of the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies in Massachusetts. "But if it’s done to protect, and done respectfully, then it’s OK."
“Modesty is also important in Hindu tradition, but it does not trump a serious security threat, said Suhag Shukla, managing director of the Hindu American Foundation. “Hindu tradition is replete with examples of sacrificing for the greater good.”
Rabbi Steven Weil, CEO of the Orthodox Union, said the scanners violate Jewish laws on modesty, or tzniut. While Islamic interpretations discourage exposure to either male or female eyes, it is not a violation of Jewish law for men or women to be seen exposed by the same gender, meaning Jews can walk through scanners if men are screened by men and women screened by women. “You have two competing values. You have the need for security and safety, and the need for human dignity and modesty.”

“Christian morality goes to intent, not legalism," wrote one commenter on a Pentecostal listserv, likening the experience to visiting the doctor. "The motive of the scanner is not to be titillated by the view of the body, but to provide safety and security."

We’ll continue tracking the story to see whether the TSA decides to come up with alternatives to the body scanner.

In other news:

A Wiccan altar puts teacher, officials at odds (Des Moines Register).

Tenn. school board settles lawsuit over First Amendment violations (Associated Baptist Press).

A Director took religion too far, fired state workers say (Dispatch Politics).

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you next Friday!

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