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10 passengers we love to hate: Day 9 -- passengers who try to convert you

Here we are on the ninth day of the "passengers we love to hate" series. Today's pick is the enthusiastic proselytizer who desperately wants to convert you to his or her religion. Far more than merely wasting the flight attendant's time or hogging the baggage claim area, this brand of annoying passenger will question your morality, insist you are going to Hell (pictured here) and proudly proclaim they have all the answers.

Now let me just say that I feel everyone is entitled to their beliefs. Freedom of religion is a basic foundation of any decent society, but that also includes freedom from religion. You don't know me, you don't know what I believe, and you don't have the right to harass me for an entire flight trying to convince me to change to your way of thinking.

I seemed plagued by this sort of passenger. At least once a year I'm stuck next to one of them, usually on a long international flight. Once I had an entire high school group of evangelicals who tag team preached to me all the way from the U.S. to Bulgaria.

My religious friends joke that maybe God is trying to tell me something. The problem with that theory is that these annoying fellow passengers come from all different religions. Maybe God is trying to tell me not to listen to people who claim to know what He wants.

Plus I think God would send some better emissaries. Every member of the Mile High Preaching Club I've had to deal with has been astonishingly ignorant about different faiths, and sometimes pretty shaky about their own. One of those high school evangelicals insisted the Bible was literally true and the only foundation for a proper life, then admitted he hadn't read it all. Please do your homework, and if I want to talk to you about your religion, I'll ask. If I don't ask, read the inflight magazine and show me some respect.

Is that so hard? I have friends whose beliefs range from Orthodox Judaism to hardcore atheism, and not a single one of them tries to convert me, not even when we debate religion. They can disagree with me without calling me evil or ignorant or wrong. I don't take kindly to that sort of treatment, especially when I have jet lag.

Judge not, lest ye be judged. (Matthew 7:1)

Filed under: Airlines, Transportation

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