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Alaska Airlines ends prayer cards on flights
Alaska Airlines distributed prayer cards like these on flights for more than 30 years.
January 26th, 2012
04:21 PM ET

Alaska Airlines ends prayer cards on flights

By Aaron Cooper, CNN

(CNN) - Passengers on Alaska Airlines will no longer get a free Psalm with their meal.

On Wednesday, the airline announced it is ending its more than 30-year tradition of including printed cards with short Bible verses during meal service.

“I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name O most high,” was written on one card, over an image of foggy blue mountains. Another card featured these words over a beach at sunset: "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”

The cards have been distributed on trays with Alaska Airlines meals since the 1970s, according to airline spokeswoman Bobbie Egan. Since 2006, only passengers in First Class on longer Alaska Airlines flights have been served meals, so only a small percent of passengers received a card.

“This difficult decision was not made lightly,” the airline’s top executives said an email to frequent passengers. “We believe it's the right thing to do in order to respect the diverse religious beliefs and cultural attitudes of all our customers and employees.”

“We also know some of you consider the cards to be a tradition that reflects your own spiritual beliefs,” the email said. “At the same time, we've heard from many of you who believe religion is inappropriate on an airplane, and some are offended when we hand out the cards.”

Kathy Hosford, of Dyea, Alaska told CNN Affiliate that ““I take the time to read them. It really tells me the airline cares about the people sitting there.”

Others disagree. “Religious attitudes do vary,” Egan says, and “a large percent of residents in markets that we do serve on the West Coast say religion is not important to them.”

“We have been keeping track over the recent years and we are receiving more complaints than compliments” says Egan. Between 1998 and 2002 they received 242 complaints and 141 compliments about the cards.

The idea to distribute the cards in the first place came from a marketing executive who borrowed the idea from another carrier as a way to differentiate Alaska’s service, according to the airline’s statement.

But that view has now changed. “A business that aspires to be diverse and inclusive shouldn't have a religious agenda. Religious beliefs are deeply personal and vary greatly among our customers” Egan said in an emailed statement.

The decision to eliminate the cards was made last fall, she says, and takes effect on February 1. No decision yet about what to do with the leftovers.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Alaska • Prayer

soundoff (2,364 Responses)
  1. Proud Muslim

    As a Muslim I would have no objection to Psalms 107:1 or 9:2. We believe that the Book of Psalms was divinely revealed to Prophet David but today's version contains a lot of human additions, deletions and modifications.

    January 26, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  2. Bumper

    The airline is dumping these cards because of the economy and not complaints about religion.

    January 26, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  3. Jesus Is Lord

    Jesus is the answer. He is the ONLY way to the Father in Heaven. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, repent, obey and be saved!

    January 26, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • FAERIE_TALES

      Poseidon is the answer. He is the ONLY way to Mount Olympus. Believe in the Lord Poseidon, repent, obey and be saved!

      January 26, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Beth

      If that heaven is a place filled with people who think and talk like you I'd rather not go there. Thanks anyway. (In case it isn't obvious, I don't think you are right about how to get to heaven and what heaven is, etc.)

      January 26, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Oddly enough..Poseidon never required acts of repentance. Try and think before you try to be a jerk. Or at least become more informed with your source info than God of War.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Andrew

      What about Loki? Loki has always been there for us mortals, sure he might play a trick or two, but that's his style. Stick by Loki and your mortal life will be guarenteed. Especially if you parter up with Dionysus too.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • FAERIE_TALES

      Mohammed is the only way to Paradise. Having heard the good news, you will be tortured eternally in hell if you do not convert to Islam.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • FAERIE_TALES

      Uncouth Swain, do you worship the same Poseidon that I do? If not, then shut up and die, idiot.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @FAERIE_TALES- "do you worship the same Poseidon that I do? If not, then shut up and die, idiot."

      I do not worship anything called Poseidon..and...no :)

      See how easy that works.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • JT

      Believe in this long dead radical Jewish Rabbi and be saved from what?

      January 26, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  4. JACK

    The card should say, "I pray that the pilot of this plane can fly like Sully."

    January 26, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Billie 456

      The card should read, "in case of a crash, don't bother to pray because it is not allowed on this aircraft"

      January 26, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • FAERIE_TALES

      Yes, not distributing fairy tale verses to passengers is equivalent to forbidding prayer.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  5. why

    Why would people be praying to a desert god when they're in the air? shouldnt they pray to a wind god or sky jinni or something? I dont get it!!!!

    January 26, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • UhYeaOk

      You don't get it because your stupid. Case closed, have a nice day!

      January 26, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  6. jj

    How about cards with prayers for all religions and beliefs, including atheism.

    January 26, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Yep

      That would be interesting. Although would the atheist one be completely blank?

      January 26, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • JT

      Perhaps the atheist card should have E=MC2.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • FAERIE_TALES

      The atheist card would be the emergency procedures card
      because they don't have an invisible sky daddy to help them.

      See? Atheism is the suck.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  7. Hypocrites all

    So hilarious to see the blatant hypocrisy in our society these days and how the hypocrisy never registers in their minds. Christians shunning their Golden Rule and atheists cramming their atheism down the throats of others while whining about Christans shoving their Christianity down theirs.

    January 26, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  8. Lisa

    It all comes down to money. If u don't like the cards, don't fly the airline or toss it. All this political correctness is getting out f hand.

    January 26, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • R. Diane

      @Lisa...well said!

      January 26, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  9. Jeff in Bako

    How refreshing...to read the comments of so many modeling tolerance. Alaska Airlines can make any decision it would like regarding its distribution of bible verses. But the comments/responses of so many here causes me to pause. I see the rich tradition of the extreme far left continues to reveal its real values.

    January 26, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  10. JMac

    I find Christians to be just like those people at every intersection begging for money. Why don't I have the "right" to sit in my vehicle without being harrassed at every stoplight? Why don't I have the "right" to go about my day without being harrassed about these ridiculous religous dogma's? It's exhausting to have to defend my "rights" all of the time!

    January 26, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • booboo

      funny. because atheists are into flying banners and renting the sides of busses and billboards to preach their religion and force it down peoples throats. how odd that you only think christians do it.. pretty one sided of you dont you think?

      January 26, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • JMac

      @booboo

      flying banners?? Which ones
      renting the sides of busses?? saying what?
      billboards??? saying what???
      to preach their religion??? Since when is atheism a religion???

      January 26, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • dave836

      Like the person above said, Atheists are just as into that thing as Theists. There's even an organization for Atheists who organize such protests/billboards based on money they get from donations (Sounds incredibly ironic, doesn't it?).

      January 26, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • UhYeaOk

      You call that harrassment? You are part of the problem, not the solution.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Observer

      booboo,

      Do atheists demand that atheistic sayings like "God is Dead" be put on government and school walls? YES or NO?
      Do atheists demand that atheistic readings be done at school and sports events? YES or NO?

      Get seious. Try logic.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • FAERIE_TALES

      Yes, militant atheists are quite offensive.

      How dare they promote skeptical inquiry and rational inquiry?

      January 26, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  11. Edwin

    I have an open question to everyone: who is more intolerant - atheists or christians?

    The way I see it, most atheists and most christians are probably pretty decent, quiet people who rarely post. So my question really has to do with posters on boards like this.

    My experience is that brazen atheists usually ridicule religion and talk about imaginary men in the sky. When it comes to traditions involving christianity, christians ask for tolerance. On the other hand, bold christians typically attack anything Islamic, seeing it as the work of infidels (since muslims are not christian, after all). Atheists weakly defend it, saying it is no worse than christianity.

    Who is worse - the people who complain about ALL religions, or the ones who only complain about religions that are not their own and complain when their own religion is attacked?

    January 26, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • dani

      Well said.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • LOL!

      You must be religious because Christians attack Atheist on this blog all the time, telling them they'll be blotted out for all eternity, they'll spend eternity in hell, etc..etc... interesting how you skim over those and it doesn't register in your prejudice mind.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Andrew

      Christians often complain about the percieved lack of christian privilage as their religious beliefs on the attack in the country. They somehow have got it in their head that their religion in parituclar deserves a special place in the public light, with special protections, and any removal of that privilage is seen as an attack on their religion, while they completely ignore far more real attacks on other beliefs.

      Atheists will defend muslims building a mosque, but will attack them if they, say, try to get the state to write down the 5 pillars of islam on a government building. Christians will attack muslims trying to get the state to write down the 5 pillars of islam on a government building (hell, many protested the erection of mosques period) but often champion the idea of printing the 10 commandments on government buildings. They don't actually notice that what they consider 'christian persecution' in the US is really just a loss of christian privilage. They legitimatly don't notice the already privilaged status of their religious beliefs.

      I'll criticize them as unfounded, but I'm not going to try to restrict belief. Just try to restrict the overreaching of religious practices and belief.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Edwin

      I am not christian, and I am aware of what you state. But there is a limit to how long a post can be and still have people read it. Besides, in a way, many christians here consider the existence of atheists to be an attack on christianity, so I still talked about it in a round-about way.

      But congratulations on judging me based on my post. I would actually call that one vote against your side...

      January 26, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Edwin

      (My reply was directed at LOL!, just for clarification)

      January 26, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • booboo

      LOL really? because im on here quite a bit and its usually a 10:1 ratio of athiests attacking religion. not only that but using extreme sarcasm or worse, hurtful jokes meant specifically to antagonize or demean religion. Look through this particular story and see how many athiests are hellbent on making fun of and antagonizing.. dont be naive or blind man, come on..

      January 26, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • yep

      what LOL! said...

      January 26, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • tfbuckfutter

      I'm not an atheist....but I'm not really a Christian either. And I will tell you from my perspective, Atheists lash out because they aren't left alone. Christians don't leave people alone. They bully. They try and force their beliefs on others, and the negative response is from people resistant to having Christians trying so very hard to infiltrate every branch of government with their "values" and "mortality" thus interfering with EVERYONE'S ability to JUST BE LEFT ALONE. And now Christians cry about how persecuted THEY are? Atheists aren't trying to force Christians to do anything. Christians ARE trying to force non-Christians to do things or preventing them from doing things that don't affect the Christians one iota. The only things Atheists try to force Christians to STOP doing is violating the Establishment Clause (ie complaining about Christian displays on community property, including opening meetings with prayers).
      That's my perspective anyway.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Yep

      Secularly? Christians. Religiously? Atheists. Weird? Yep.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Edwin

      Thank you all for your insights... I wish you all the best day/evening/night possible.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  12. Al Stefanelli

    If ANY member of the flight crew handed me a prayer card, It'd automatically cause a vote of no confidence. Thus, I would be rather insistent that they land the plane at the next available airport and put me on a flight where the airline relies on technology and trained, professional human beings to get me to my destination and not an invisible friend.

    January 26, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • UhYeaOk

      Good, I wouldn't want your stupid a ss sitting next to me either.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  13. catholic engineer

    I want it stopped ! Now! Those airline merchandise catalogs must be removed from airline seats! I work hard to resist the materialism promoted by such publications. I'm sick of the airlines shoving sales promos down my throat. The mere sight of these things makes me emotional and unstable.

    January 26, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  14. Crom laughs at your puny sky machines!

    He laughs from his mountain!

    January 26, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • GarPundit

      "Suffer no evil, ye who fly this plane in the name of CROM!" Now THAT'S a card I'd love to receive!

      January 26, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  15. christophorm

    A prayer card would'nt quailify anyone for Heaven if the plane went down..A real believer in Christ don't need a 'prayer card".

    January 26, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  16. EuphoriCrest

    Flying "on a wing and a prayer" didn't really inspire much confidence anyway.

    January 26, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  17. Robert

    Would you like to fly on a plane and see cards advertising, "Obama-Biden 2012", "Mitt Romney for President", "Ron Paul 2012"? No! You probably wouldn't, and neither would I. Religious propaganda is no more appropriate than political propaganda. Oh, and just in case any deluded Christian think these cards might convert heathens, how successful do you think Ron Paul spam is at converting people? I see them everyday, like I see Christian propaganda – and I have converted to neither, while I have learned to detest both.

    January 26, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      If everyone (all cults, all political parties) had qual access, and items were packaged / presented so they could be easily ignored (like a magazine), and if it didn't cost the airline anything (or better yet, if the airline made money by distributing stuff so that fares were lower), then I wouldn't mind.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Doug

      And you seem such a friendly fella. Not sure why we don't all share your feelings. :)

      January 26, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • UhYeaOk

      Hey Robert, shut up and sit down. Fasten your seatbelt, the ride to hell has a lot of turbulence.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  18. Marc

    Even though an atheist, I think that too often we are infringing on our Christian friends' freedom of speech. The messages on the cards are a peaceful expression of Christian belief. I'm just not offended by that. I say believe what you want and say it out loud, your beliefs don't offend or frighten me.

    January 26, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Edwin

      If it were Angelic Airlines I would agree with you. I worked at a Catholic University for years and found the spiritual messages uplifting. But in this case I would see the messages from a non-religious business as a deliberate promotion of christianity, and I would take offense.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • dani

      I agree.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • hadenough

      Marc, You can't be much of an athiest if you think this is o.k. If it was an ode to Allah and ended with Insha Alla would you still feel the same way. EVERYONE needs to stop and evaluate the hypocrisy of what they say. That is in fact the root of all Evil.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Rhubarb

      That is an extremely insightful comment, Marc. I truly respect that.

      I think the Holy Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ is trying to tell you something, but you'll never know unless you read His Word with an open heart. As you are not afraid, why not try?

      When you find out the depth of true, honest, unending love Jesus has for you, you will not be an A-Theist any longer. It's the most important thing you will ever do. Please don't let the sinful failings of earthly men who claim to represent Christ dissuade you.

      Your eternity hangs in the balance, Marc. Please seek Him out.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • hadenough

      rhubarb, Please return to the convent. They are missing their idiot.
      The point is that religion should be kept out of most things. Period.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Haha

      Back to the shadows, foul sorceress!!!

      January 26, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Edwin

      Rhubarb: seriously? Do you really see every polite discussion as an opportunity to convert someone?

      In a nutshell, this is the prime reason atheists get upset with christians: christians sound decent and nice until they think they can convert you. Some christians are probably decent and nice all the time, but it is really hard for us non-believers to tell the difference between the ones who will actually respect us as human beings and the ones really don't and only pay attention to us because they secretly hope to alter our core beliefs when they get us to let our guard down.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • GarPundit

      Well, Alaska Airlines IS a private company, so they can hand out whatever they want. It would leave a (slight) bad taste in my mouth, but I'd probably not make future airline choices based on it, any more than if they handed out cards with verses from the Koran. Our mechanic is a devout Christian, and includes "Jesus Fishes" and Bible verses. Even though I don't share his beliefs, I like the guy and appreciate the quality and reasonable price of his work, so I don't hold it against him.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Tracy

      LOL- uh huh- and that is simply ridiculous

      January 26, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  19. R. ELVEBAK

    I recommend firing Egan

    January 26, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  20. AnneSD

    Prayer cards on an airplane? I think I would immediately start worrying that someone thinks the end is a bit nearer than I care for. To me, this would be kind of like someone offering me flight insurance at the boarding gate.

    January 26, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.