Satanism is an officially recognized religion in the United States, but it was too far for one American Airlines crew, who forced a passenger to change her shirt if she wanted to remain on the flight.
Buzzfeed News reports 49-year-old Swati Runi Goyal was on a flight from Florida to Nevada on October 30th. A crew member asked her to follow him to the front of the plane. She assumed she was getting upgraded to first class, but in actually she was told she had to either change her shirt or get kicked off.
Goyal was wearing a "Hail Satan" shirt. Buzzfeed points out that Goyal is not a Satan worshipper, but she is in fact a member of the Satanic Temple, which is a atheist organization that is about separation of church and state (and not worshipping Satan).
"It’s an ironic shirt," Goyal told BuzzFeed News. "People usually laugh at it, or they give me a thumbs up because they understand the meaning behind it." Goyal later said that the crew did not find her shirt amusing. "He said, ‘Our crew has found your shirt to be offensive,’" said Goyal. "We initially just thought it was a joke. But he repeated the directive, and there was another female crew member who was behind him with her arms crossed looking very angry."
Goyal and her husband refused to get off the plane.
"The man said, ‘Your shirt is offensive. Do you know what that means?’" Goyal said. "I said, ‘I’m a foreign-born minority woman, I understand ‘offensive,’ and this shirt is not offensive.’"
The crew delayed takeoff until the woman would either take off the shirt or deplane. Eventually, her husband lent her one of his layers and the crew allowed them to remain on the flight. She noted the crew avoided eye contact with her for the rest of the flight and did not even serve her a drink when the cart came around.
At this point the article gets a little odd for me, because she sort of throws metalheads under the bus saying "I’m just an ordinary-looking person," she said. "I’m not goth. I don’t have piercings. I wasn’t wearing a shirt that had a goat being beheaded on it. [I was] wearing L.L.Bean hiking pants and vegan sneakers," she added. "I mean, I couldn’t look like more of a nerd."
But so what if you did, Goyal? We've all worn a metal shirt on a plane before.
Anyway, Goyal emailed American Airlines to complain and they did not initially apologize saying they "have policies in place to ensure that no passengers are subjected to objectionable situations while on board." It was only once Goyal tweeted publicly about the situation that American Airlines apologized. "Discrimination has no place at American Airlines," the company replied on Twitter, adding that it would investigate further and then reach back out to her.
Goyal told Buzzfeed News that she was eventually offered a refund on both tickets and told that an investigation was ongoing.