Perhaps this is more a theological discussion than a travel one, but it is in the context of Judah 1, the new carrier many are calling the first “Christian” airline.
Judah 1: A “Christian” Airline?
In 2018, Everett Aaron, President and CEO of Judah 1, claimed to receive a vision from God to start a new airline:
“The Lord spoke to me about using my passion for aviation – specifically large aircraft, I saw rows and rows of aircraft, full of food and supplies, lines of them.”
The business plan includes distinguishing Judah 1 via complimentary cargo shipping:
“We will have to charge regular ticket prices just like you do for the airlines. This is not available for just the general public, you have to be part of a mission team. It will be very competitive with the airlines. The advantage is there’s no luggage fees. Absolutely none. All your cargo travels with you as well. So that’s the biggest thing.
“About 50 percent of missionaries lose their cargo when it travels via container and that’s one of the problems we have. I know some of the trips we have been on ourselves with other missionary groups traveling, they ship their stuff via container and medical supplies and stuff either get tied up in customs, food spoils, some things it just gets lost.”
This is actually a big deal. Having worked with missionaries from around the world, one of the biggest complaints is that supplies coming from the United States do not reach what we would consider developing nations. Supplies, typically sent via shipping container to avoid cost overruns, are often lost, stolen, or seized. For example, my church regularly sent a huge care package to a missionary family in Cameroon. The package rarely reached them (months later) and when it did, the box had been opened and closed several times with most of the contents missing.
So that is indeed a problem…but I’m not sure a “Christian” airline can fix it unless it can find a way to bypass international borders. The problem seems to be border officials or customs officials who simply want a cut…and we see this all over the developing world.
Plus, cargo is expensive. I see no viable business plan for subsidizing pallets full of cargo by selling tickets in the passenger cabin.
Now Judah 1 just obtained a Boeing 767 and is focusing on larger aircraft:
“By the end of next year, we would like to have three to four large planes. As of yesterday, we now have being added to our fleet a Boeing 767-200ER. It seats 238 people and can go anywhere in the world with one-stop. It carries 30 tons of cargo.
“We will be non-scheduled and we do not have to have approved routes. So, that means we can go where we want when we want, unlike most airlines that have to have certain schedules that they fly, have to have certain routes. We don’t have to do that.”
That’s a lot of passengers in a 767-200…
Airlines Can’t Be Christian
It isn’t just my favorite agnostic and Jewish bloggers who are calling Judah 1 a Christian airline. Even the Christian Post, an influential newspaper in Christian evangelical circles, called the airline Christian in its title and lead paragraph.
This is an ongoing theological debate. Can nations be Christian? Can companies be Christian? Christian comes from the Greek word Χριστιανός (Christianos), meaning “follower of Christ,” which itself comes from Χριστός (Christos), meaning “anointed one.” In Christianity, Christ is the office and Jesus is the officeholder (too many Christians think Jesus’ last name was Christ).
I look at it in this way:
The Old Testament people of God performed a dispensationally unique, unrepeatable and inimitable role as a divinely created political community. It is one thing to confess that God continues to rule providentially over all nations but quite another to claim that He calls particular nations into a covenantal relationship with Him akin to that He entered into with biblical Israel.
This negative conclusion is reinforced by an equally important positive one…The New Testament people of God has been founded from the very beginning as a trans-national community. In Jesus Christ, the Gentiles are brought into a covenant relationship with God. We see this enacted visibly in the trans-ethnic, trans-national, multi-lingual character of the early church in Acts, which confessed, dramatically and subversively, that “There is neither Jew nor Greek . . . for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
There are just and unjust nations, just not Christian ones. The same applies to airlines: there are just and unjust airlines (as we know very well…), but not Christian ones.
In the secular realm, perhaps the 2010 Citizens United decision, which affirmed that corporations should be considered as people in terms of certain actions like political contributions, undermines that argument. But I’m asserting here that nations and airlines cannot be Christian; only living, breathing people can.
I try to keep the theology of this blog, so thank you for indulging me in this discussion today. But every time I see a headline about Judah 1 being a Christian airline, I cringe. Importantly, it does not appear Judah 1 refers to itself as a Christian airline. However, Judah 1 will certainly need divine favor if it hopes to sustain operations from its questionable business model.
image: Everett Aaron
I would be careful with the viewpoint you espouse regarding whether a nation can be Christian. Relating to the nation of Israel, the bibles says clearly “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.”
When you join the Mile High Club on Judah 1, is only the missionary position allowed?
Any religious person if they haven’t deeply questioned at least once why they follow a religion haven’t really thought about anything clearly. i think most people go through life as mindless drones and use religion for tribalism more than spiritual needs.
Religion is one of those drugs that need to be handled carefully and people need to be well educated before they are allowed to be religious.
Indeed, it is right and proper to wrestle with any belief that you hold dear, especially if you claim it guides your life. Religion is unique and can be a source for great good…or a source for great evil.
Nations cannot be Christian but they can claim to be. If America were a Christian nation, even people on Medicaid (California calls it Medi-Cal) should give most of their money to the poor of Togo and South Sudan. No visa, free movement between nations, etc. I admit that national regulations should be followed even though they are nationalistic, not Christian.
Lol Ari…You are baaaaad….
I don’t know. Is El Al a Jewish airline? Is Saudia an Islamic airline?
I would say no and no.
> too many Christians think Jesus’ last name was Christ
And of course, his middle name was Harry, as I always remember every time I bang my fingers with a hammer.
And definitely a blue-eyed, very white dude though, like all those other people from the Middle East.
It is super sad to hear that such a large percentage of supplies and humanitarian relief efforts don’t reach the people who really need them in the developing world.
A very enjoyable book about being a Christian missionary is “The Very Worst Missionary” by Jamie Wright. After reading it, be sure to check out her blog to see what has happened since publication in 2017.
If God had wanted us to fly he would have given us wings. Christians, Jews and Moslems are all people of the book so the wings of their planes are gifts of from their God. Surely, you can surely recognize an Islamic airline from the compasses on the entertainment systems pointing to Mecca, a Jewish airline from the extensive Kosher meal offerings and a Christian airline from its efforts to keep its passenger flight experience from going to hell. Of course, if there are holy Christian, Moslem and Jewish airlines, one might expect that there are airlines from hell. We could name a few, but surely your readers already who they are.
Good point, an airline can’t be Christian any more than a dog, shoe, tree or airport can be Christian.
What if we realized that the country that needs the most outreach is us?
Maybe we are not materially poor, but certainly socially and spiritually. Perhaps we are lost the ability to be tribal and a community. Obsessed by our own individualism and inability to be part of a greater whole – we might be among the poorest of all. Perhaps what we need to give each other does not need to be shipped or pass through customs- it involves a simple willingness of the heart to share respect , kindness and the capacity to hold opposite opinions and differences in ones heart. Sho is really more? Who really is need of our outreach?
Definitely an interesting topic, but it’s silly to construe marketing lingo literally. How else would you describe it… an airline with Christian owners, Christian symbology, and Christian passenger missions? That’s a mouthful and certainly not catchy: Christian Airline? Nice and easy, we get it.
Everyone knows what they’re saying via associations. Just like we do for the usage of Mulsim/Islamic airline, which you instinctively know will not serve alcohol and have Middle East connections. You also know the airline can’t hear the call to prayer, but it would be silly to say so.
Can’t let semantics get in the way of marketing.
Whoa never heard of Judah 1 (this a good one -I should remember this next time I approach a bank: I had a vision from God You’re givin me 10 mill interest free to start my airline off the paper work and ditto off the ground….nah….wont fly even here in Canada….especially here in Canada)
about 15 yrs ago it always bothered me here-in Canada being a nation of 175 mosaic-ed nations (the premis here that US=meltic pot: input 175 nations entering -> output=homogenous all same all equal American; Canada a mosaic 175 nations enter you adopt the bare minimum the most important change called THE STATE OF MIND=Canadian, but keeps everyones ethnic individuality) So it bothered me if there are etnic restaurants …bars…coffee/pastry shops…retail outlets…cinemas why arn’t there ethnic airlines the ones where ethnic staff is servising the flight serving ethnic food, IFE ethnic music/flicks…then Ive noticed El Al was using out of JFK rented feeder service solely for US dom to LAX/SFO/DFW/MIA/SEA AmericanAirs 757 owefull 200+ configuration 29″ seat pitch single class even if You fly First on LY youd be transfered to this repulsive AmericanAir bellow economy service. So I started drawing a blue print for US/Canada El Al subsidiary out of either YUL or YYZ feeder service to the same LAX/SFO/MIA/SEA/DFW/ATL etc the aim was double on one hand LY struggled with pax volumes they really wanted a daily TLV-YYZ but never did better than 4 weekly summer and 3 winter. It was supposed to be a very Orthodox styly religious airline even more than LY, but open to everybody out of curiosity i was planning any Canadian (with people in Canada being somewhat less religiously binded it was meant to be a HIT different than any other North American carrier…..all that was until…on my last LY flight 10 yrs ago from TLV to JFK in Economy a very respected Orthodox New Yorker seated in the row in front of me made a huge fuss why an Orthodox female is seated next to him (and she was dressed very conservatively and all in black…I felt really sorry for the woman having to endure very harsh verbal abuse (and as you probably know ElAl flights to US are always full to the brim) so I offered to switch with her (I was seated to a reformed gentleman) The LY crew saved her by upgrading her to Biz….but after this FIRST HAND story I got the answer of why are there no ethnic airlines even in so liberal Canada and anywhere in the World. As a club…a seasonal charter…one offs probably yes but as a scheduled entity may be not….
Being religious is like having a penis. It’s great to have but if you shove it in my face we will have problems
This is extremely odd, to say the least. But maybe it’d be a good way for passengers to get along if they all follow the same religion? We can have ChristAir, Hindu2Go, JetBuddha, we already have ElAl but they could use more competition…..HebrewHeights, AirYenta? And maybe one more Christian carrier since there are so many denominations…..EvangelicAir. Whoa, how about ConfuciusWay? I’m on a roll (or maybe a knish) and could go on and on.
I never understand the American obsession with sending large shipments of goods to developing countries. Surely it would be better to send funds to an indigenous organisation to instead purchase the required materials in country, thus supporting business and development in country, rather than importing poor quality and likely second hand materials from overseas.
Maybe a key lesson is to espouse Christ-like attitudes when flying…treat others kindly and quit overreacting and mistreating others.