Florida airport bans religious services in reflection rooms

Leaders at Orlando International Airport are banning organized church services at the airport's so-called reflection rooms.

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One of the reasons they cited is a fear that someone could get a weapon past the Transportation Security Administration and carry out a violent attack.

Airport officials said they are working on finding somewhere off-site for those services.

Most travelers at OIA may not even realize these reflection rooms exist.

The room the Catholics were using is just past a TSA checkpoint where tens of thousands of people pass through security every day.

TSA workers typically confiscate a couple of guns a month on average.

OIA has two reflection rooms, which are sometimes called prayer rooms or chapels.

"When we started looking at the issue last fall, in terms of the establishment clause of the Constitution, it became clear that we were going to have to make it available to all faiths at all times," said Greater Orlando Aviation Authority CEO Phil Brown.

Brown said control and managing an increasingly busy airport were factors in deciding to halt the services.

"That doesn't mean that you can't use the reflection rooms or the chapel,” Brown said. “They're still available."

But documents provided to airport board members who approved the policy change cite an increase in shootings during religious services as another motivator.

Brown wrote to the board saying, "Due to recent violent events at churches, mosques and synagogues, I consider it appropriate to adopt [this] policy."

With both reflection rooms past security, the implication is a gun or something else would make it through and just as easily end up on your next flight.

The CEO made it clear travelers are still allowed to go into rooms and pray or meditate and the rooms will be open to welcome spiritual advisers form all faiths.

This change only means there will be no organized church services.

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