Dionne Walker of the Associated Press reports on how some airport chapels are removing their crosses (and other denominational-specific decor) and embracing a new multi-faith reality.
Across the country, chapels designed to offer passengers refuge and reflection in bustling airports are making changes: Removing denomination-specific decor, adding special accommodations and hosting services geared to accommodate an increasingly diverse group of travelers flying with faith. In Atlanta, it means a simple stained-glass window marking the entrance to the 1,040-square-foot chapel on the third floor. Inside there’s room for 30, and a library stocking everything from Gideon Bibles to Jewish mystical texts. A large floor mat provides a cushiony spot to kneel for prayer; officials don’t set it aside for any specific faith. “There are representations of almost every faith,” said Cook, who recently oversaw a $200,000 renovation that more than doubled the chapel to its current size. “There are Buddhists in their orange robes, there are some Hindus … I helped a Wiccan one time.”
In the article, Walker describes the multi-faith chapel space at Atlanta’s airport. There, the floor is decorated with a large compass (and little else). While the Rev. Chester Cook talks of accommodating faiths that need to face a certain direction to pray (like Jews and Muslims), I couldn’t help but think that it would be perfect for a Wiccan, or group of Wiccans (or any type of Pagan, really), to do a quick ritual on their way to someplace else. While this trend of converting specifically Christian chapels into multi-faith spaces may have more to do with saving money and conserving space, it is still a welcome shift away from the “Christian default setting” that has dominated so many public spaces over the years.