I travel a lot for work.  In the past 35 years I’ve flown over 2 million miles.  1.2 million of those miles are with United, and I’m a member of their Million Mile club.  These are what frequent fliers call BIS miles, or Butt In Seat miles.  They are actual flown miles, not earned with a credit card.

So last week while stuck at Chicago O’Hare airport (yet again) waiting a connection, I sat where I could see TSA do their security screenings.  For over an hour I watched what one Israeli security expert called “Security Theater”. TSA put on a good show, and those in the show and those watching were made to feel “secure” by what they were watching, but it was just a show.

Every few months we hear another report about a test of TSA security where a large percentage of the fake guns they put through are never caught. Just a few weeks ago another test failed

I watched those that got selected for “secondary screening” for whatever reason, most of the time there was something that did not look right in the carry on back, or they tripped the metal detector.  TSA would spend up to 10 minutes taking every single item out of their carry-on bag, checking it, sometimes wiping it with a paper to check for explosive residue.  I watched a middle aged woman, and a collage student get this treatment.  I could tell from the start they would not find anything, but the show went on and on and on.

I wonder if religion in general, and the LDS church in particular has what I’ll call “Salvation Theater” (1).  The rituals performed in religion make us feel good,  but is it really necessary for salvation?  Some of the rituals that come to mind are baptism, taking the sacrament, and in the LDS church, the granddaddy of all “Theater”, the Endowment Ceremony.  All these rituals makes us feel better about our chance of Salvation,  and people watching see that we are doing the right thing.  But does it really affect our Salvation?  Does God really care for the show we put on?  Do these rituals really stop the bad guy from “getting on the plane”, or the heathen from coming into the presents of God? Or does God have his own grand plan for who will be “Saved”, regardless of the theater we participate in during our time on earth?


(1) I use the word Salvation in a general sense, to include what the LDS church refers to as Exaltation