Appearing on conservative talk radio Monday, Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA) made up a startling claim about the Obama administration that appears to have gone a bit further than just wading through the political fever swamp. Instead, it seems he completely imagined a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) program that lets Muslim passengers through security without even so much as a sideways glance.
And of course, it's all President Barack Obama's fault.
Oddly, Rep. Landry added that he's perfectly fine with letting Muslims through security checkpoints via "special status or waivers," so long as it means that the president will end his attacks on people of his own faith.
"I think the biggest problems that a lot of Americans are having out there is the hypocrisy of this administration," Rep. Landry told conservative talk radio host Jay Sekulow. "Remember, this is an administration who has no problem granting special status or waivers to Muslims as they go through TSA screenings. Look, as they believe that there is a need to grant them special rights as they go through the TSA screening based upon their religion, that's fine, I'm ok with that. But then don't turn around and attack Christians when they stand up and say 'listen, we believe that the policies you're putting in place violate our religious freedoms as well.'"
Rep. Landry later bragged about the interview on his Facebook page, urging supporters to tune in for a discussion about "our fight against the HHS mandate] on contraception."
The TSA gives no waivers, special rights or exceptions based upon religious beliefs. The only people who get special treatment are those willing to pay for it by submitting to a pre-screening process. Minorities, such as Muslims, Sikhs and people who appear to be from the Middle East, have typically reported facing even greater scrutiny by TSA agents than other passengers.
Rep. Landry appears to have invented the claim as a way of illustrating another imagined controversy: that Obama is secretly punishing people of his own faith because of his spiritual preference for Muslims.
"I got to tell you, my hat’s off to the Catholic bishops around America, they have gotten to the point where they understand that this exercise that is going on with the federal government is a dangerous one," Rep. Landry added, referencing recent religious objections to a rule requiring private health insurers cover contraception for women. "If they allow this to happen, if we allow this to happen as Americans, as Catholics, as Christians, there is no limit to where the government goes from here."
Rep. Landry's aides did not respond to requests for comment.
Although leading U.S. Catholic bishops strongly objected to President Obama's contraception rule, other groups like the Catholic Health Association, which represents hundreds of Catholic hospitals, refused to take a similar stand. The president ultimately crafted a compromise in the rule that allows religious groups to claim an exception and avoid sharing any costs for contraception products.
Polling found that about two-thirds of Americans support President Obama's contraceptive coverage requirement. Interestingly, the Public Religion Research Institute also noted that Catholics are actually even more likely than other groups to favor Obama's plan. The survey claimed that only groups of Americans who remain mostly opposed to contraception coverage are white evangelical protestants and Republicans.