Ogre (in the comment to the last post) nicely spells out the part of the ID-at-GA problem that seems to have pressed the most buttons in folks. In short, the REAL problem with the requirement to show ID to get into the GA neighborhood is not that some people won't be able to get to come to GA, it's that some people won't be able to come to the WORSHIP SERVICES at GA. Worship services, we feel, should by definition, be open to everyone. The specter of a federal official telling some people that they can't come to our (or any other, presumably) worship service seems especially scary. "What if the feds declared the blocks around your church a security zone and only let people through who had proper ID?" Ogre asks.
(Ogre also remarks that us UU's with our backpacks and Birkenstock's can hardly be considered a threat to port security, especially in a port where containers are not well inspected. The container issue is a huge one, and I sure hope somebody is working on it, but I think we all could easily be convinced that a person with ill intent could certainly dress up just like us if they wanted to. The point of asking for an official ID is to save us all, especially those of us who "look" like foreigners, from the indignity of being singled out, profiled, or subjected to prejudicial activity. )
Back to church and state.
A case where Homeland Security cordoned off a church and required ID for entry would certainly be a challenge to separation of church and state and go to the Supreme Court, and I imagine that we'd all be sending our contributions to the ACLU for that one. There is a considerable body of church/state law in place about such conflicts of rights and values, and the church does not always win.
But my friends, GA isn't our church, though we might hold worship there. We're the most temporary of occupants of the Port of Fort Lauderdale. The doctrine of separation of church and state doesn't mean that anybody can do something they call worship anywhere they please and enjoy immunity from government regulations. We can't hold a worship service in public parks, in the middle of the street, or on other people's property. From the perspective of Homeland Security, we UU's have chosen to enter this sensitive piece of property, and we have to follow the rules that make the nation more secure. Consider this analogy. Suppose a church which had a prison ministry insisted that the prison gates must be thrown open so that anybody could attend because the government has no right to regulate attendance at a worship service. We're in the same position at our GA in the Port of Fort Lauderdale. If we protest showing ID at GA for reasons of separation of church and state, the world is going to laugh at us and wonder why they ever thought Unitarian Universalists were bright, well-read people.
We could, of course, be angry with our own GA Planning Committee, who signed us up for a GA in a secure area, on promises that the ID problem would be solved by now. That wouldn't be very productive, but at least it would be reasonable.
Actually all these "reasons" for the hullabaloo about ID at GA strike me as side issues to what is really bothering us. More about that in another post.