Summary:

Vernon Jones, a candidate in Georgia for the U.S. House of Representatives, needs to learn that there is a time and a place for everything, and that Christians singing on a plane is an unacceptable violation of passengers' rights to peace and quiet.

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When Muslim U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar learned that a captive audience on an easyJet plane flying from Poland to America were forced to endure a bunch of Christians singing “How Great Is Our God,” she said on Twitter, “I think my family and I should have a prayer session next time I am on a plane. How do you think it will end?”

This so enraged Vernon Jones, an ex-Democrat-turned-MAGA follower from Georgia that, according to Christianity Daily, he asked her:

Why do you hate Christians, Ilhan? If the freedom of religion we enjoy here in America disturbs you, feel free to pack your bags and head back to Somalia, Sudan, or wherever you’re from. Take your brother with you.

Cicely Davis, a candidate in the GOP primary in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, which Omar represents, joined the fray by tweeting:

Neither of these responses answers the questions posed by Friendly Atheist Hemant Mehta.

I can understand Mehta’s puzzlement and fury. Some years back I found myself trapped on a bus with three Brits on holiday in Spain who suddenly decided to break into song.

I was not in the best of moods at the time, so when the middle-aged trio—potted as a prickle of porcupines on brake fluid—boarded the bus and started belting out “I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts” I lost my rag completely, stood up and bellowed, “Shut the fuck up, you morons!”

That stunned them into silence, and I was applauded by the Spanish passengers.

The incident so annoyed me that I wrote a piece for a local English language newspaper, imploring vacationers not to behave like hooligans when visiting foreign countries, and, at all times, be considerate and respectful of the locals.

In Spain, people set great store by decent behavior and a phrase frequently heard here is los ingleses no tienen respeto (The English have no respect). This is usually muttered by indignant elderly folk whenever they spot bare-chested Brits with enormous sun-burned bellies overhanging Union Jack shorts, gripping cans of lager and staggering drunkenly through the streets.

I asked my artist friend in California, Shell Fisher, to send me an illustration for the piece. As always, he happily obliged.

Image provided by Shell Fisher

A question I have for easyJet is why these Christians were permitted, as Mehta put it, to “hijack the flight for Jesus.”

The people responsible for this inflight cacophony were led by Pastor Jack Jensz Jr. of Kingdom Realm Ministries who is reported in Christianity Daily as saying that

We were with our team. We’re flying away from Ukraine to another place to have a meeting. We had 10 members of our team on the plane, and we’ve been worshiping and praying for people all over the place.

Jensz said he and his team were “spiritually high” after seeing God’s actions while serving at the Ukrainian border. On their return to the US “worshiping was their way of keeping their hopes.”

Their team then decided to bless the passengers with a song to “bring hope and joy.”

He said that they were permitted by the cabin crew and pilot to sing while on the flight, adding that, without permission, a video of their stupid shenanigans posted to social media would not have been shot because his team “believes in honor and in respecting authority.”

But what they don’t believe in is people’s right not to have their peace disturbed. I fervently hope that the crew gets disciplined, and lawsuits are filed against the airline.

Veteran journalist and free speech activist Barry Duke was, for 24 years, editor of The Freethinker magazine, the second oldest continually active freethought publication in the world, established by G.W....