Chester Cook, the Airport Chaplain September 11, 2009

Chester Cook, the Airport Chaplain

Say what you will about religious chaplains, Rev. Chester Cook is not too bad of a guy. I actually wouldn’t mind his services every now and then…

By some definitions, Cook has the largest church in the country. As the full-time chaplain of Atlanta’s international airport, his flock includes the 56,000 employees and a quarter of a million travelers who pass through each day.

… Cook recalls the time he found an elderly woman stranded in the airport. She wasn’t supposed to fly out for three days, and the airline wouldn’t change her ticket. So Cook confronted an airline manager.

“I said, ‘This is a dilemma, because if that was your 81-year-old grandmother sitting out there, you would be fit to be tied,’ ” Cook says. “And I said, ‘I’m sure the news channels would love this story if I gave them a phone call.’ ”

The woman was put on the next flight.

That’s an awesome story.

It is interesting to me that mention of a god is fairly minimal in the story. Sure, Cook can talk about religion, but he sounds like he’d rather act in an ethical way rather than spend (waste?) time convincing you of a god’s existence.

(Thanks to Scott for the link!)


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  • That fits with my experience of chaplains here at the University of Edinburgh. The chaplaincy here explicitly brands itself as being for people “of all faiths and none”.

    I’m sure there are chaplains who would like to use their position to convert the masses, but I’m guessing that many, perhaps most, become chaplains (rather than ministers, priests, etc) in order to provide real, on the ground support to people, regardless of creed.

  • Amy G

    It’s easy to demonize all religions and religious people, but stories like these remind us that we’re all looking for the same things, with or without God.

  • Grimalkin

    Cool chaplains certainly do exist. My great uncle was a minister and one of the most awesome people I’ve ever met. I didn’t even know he was a minister for a long time, even though we spent a lot of time talking about things like ethics and politics. After he died, I started reading his books (most of which have “Christian” or “God” in the title) and they are all just like his conversations – god-free and just about being good people.

    He practised what he preached, too. He was always volunteering and opening his home to people in need. He was just an all-round awesome guy.

    If all religious authority figures were like him, I would probably have never deconverted – and I certainly would never have an issue with religion.

  • David E

    I wonder what denomination ordinated him.

    Somehow I suspect it wasn’t the Southern Baptists.

  • Miko

    “If all religious authority figures were like him”

    Ah, but there’s the difference. Just because someone is a minister doesn’t automatically make them an authority figure. Most religious officials view themselves as a special sort of political leader, and so they suck for all the standard reasons that political leaders suck. The small minority this avoid belief this tend to be decent people.

  • “[He] can talk about religion, but he sounds like he’d rather act in an ethical way rather than spend (waste?) time convincing you of a god’s (non)existence.”

    Perhaps that is a fine sentiment for anyone, theists and atheist included? :^)
    (Like Amy G said above too).

  • Neal O

    Thanks Hemant for a great story.

    Was just watching something on YouTube that gave me a similar uplift regarding religious people. Post via UK NSS. Wow! I never thought I would here a Muslim speak like that. Bang goes another of my blind prejudices.

  • Tom

    Chaplain or just a nice chap? It’s great that people demonstrate their humanity through their actions, despite what their beliefs may be. I could use a chaplain like that for many other things

  • medussa

    @atimorend: I feel like you’re implying something, but I can’t tell what.

  • stephanie

    I’ve always had a soft spot for chaplains. Every one I’ve met has always sported ethics and compassion way before religion so we’ve always gotten along well.