Since Doug has a Christianity Today tie, and thus might be shy, let me jump in and note that the magazine’s weblog has an interesting follow-up detail on the evangelistic pilot.
One of the best stories — best in simple terms of accuracy and completeness — about this situation can be found at the homepage of The Advocate, one of the nation’s best known publications for the gay-and-lesbian niche. Of course, it helps that the editor of The Advocate was actually on the plane. Thus, Bruce C. Steele was able to hear what the pilot said, interview passangers to compare notes on what they thought he had said and, finally, interview pilot Roger Findiesen about why he said what he said.
While everyone thinks the pilot’s actions were somewhat edgy, to say the least, the Advocate went out of its way to be accurate on a crucial issue — did the pilot call Christians “crazy” or the non-Christian passengers “crazy”?
What Findiesen said, as best the stunned passengers could recall once they were able to move about the cabin and confer after Flight 34 took off, was this: “I just got back from a mission,” Findiesen said after making a routine announcement about the plane being second in line for takeoff. “You know, they say about half of Americans are Christians. I’d just like the Christians on board to raise their hands.”
In the suddenly hushed coach section of the airplane, a few nervous passengers raised one hand, most no higher than shoulder level, none above tops of the seats.
“I want everyone else on board to look around at how crazy these people are,” the pilot continued, with an intonation suggesting he was using the word “crazy” in a positive, even admiring manner. Evidently addressing the non-Christian passengers, he concluded that they could “make good use of [the flight], or you can read your paper and watch the movie.”
One other interesting detail, for what it is worth. Findiesen was not planning to say anything — until he got what he believed was a sign from God to share his faith. The Advocate again:
A minor problem with the plane’s braking system had developed during final checks before takeoff, he said, a problem that might have grounded the aircraft, on which every seat was taken, in part because another American flight from Los Angeles to New York had been canceled that morning. But after a simple maneuver involving a power source, the braking problem inexplicably “disappeared,” Findiesen said, and the plane was cleared for departure, and that’s when he knew he had to use the P.A. system to talk about his Christian faith.