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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. Stan in Wyoming

    @ Lalala
    All atheists are angry? what about everytime we voice our opinions every wanna be poser is engulfed with fury? what about all that "Love thy nieghbor" typical Chirstian, you preach a good game but then you practice cruel and blinding tactics, i feel sorry that you are unable to think for yourself but rather allow that corrupted rat hole called relgion drain money from your pockets and smother orignal ideas from your mind. Also, if your "god" (I decapialize on purpose) is soooo wonderful, gracious, loving, kind and all the other crap, why does he allow all those kids in Africa to die such miserable deaths? why did I have to see my best friend died at age 14? why am i still standing if I openly question such a cruel and opressive god? answer me that then I join in on your religion.

    January 26, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  2. michaelwg

    not only that, but religion has held back scientific discovery since...always, and the preachers used old testament verse to justify slavery. I can only assum An Inconvenient Truth is mentally handicapped, or, ya know, religious...

    January 26, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • michaelwg

      Oops, meant to be a reply.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • An inconvenient truth

      How about checking out the references provided before passing judgement? Or are you so predisposed to your personal prejudice and hatred that your mind is closed?

      January 26, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • ohnugget001

      inconvenient:

      we don't care about your passages. we don't want you to try and justify your religion on only yhe merits of your holy text. we want you to try and realize the fallacy of claiming that your opinion is right because the bible tells you so. circular logic will get you nowhere in the real world – why expect it to get you any further in this imaginary world of gods and demons and talking donkeys and burning bushes, etc?

      January 26, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • An inconvenient truth

      The references dealt with men of prayer not the Holy Texts. You are really letting your prejudice and hatred get the better of you aren't you?

      January 26, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • ohnugget001

      @An inconvenient truth
      Nice how you attempted to turn it to me as the one with hate and predjudice, but no, I'm filled with neither. I have a healthy life full of acceptance of others, including yourself and your perceived type. I fight back when your type of predjudice rises up because I am fortunate enough, dubiously, to have been raised in a fundementalist family and understand where the intollerance of the supremely religious types originates. I was fortunate again to attend college where I was enlightened to how wrong, just plain wrong, my earlier position was. I know what it is like to be like you and I regret it to only a certain extent. Having been mislead, I have a much better life having deconverted and truly enjoy "calling out" others who I was once like. I know the arguments. I know the fallacies. I know the truth now, and it does provide a lot of freedom as MLK was said. I don't need your deity, and neither do you. You just haven't apparently accepted that yet. My condolences, but understanding. I was there once.

      January 26, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
  3. NY Jew

    Stalin, Mao and all other terrible massmurder leaders were all facking atheists.... Being an atheist means gothic, terrible lifestyle who were raised from a retarded and cause problem in our world

    January 26, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Patriarchae

      What's your IQ level? Do you not know the difference between correlation and causation? The people you listed were atheists, but they did not kill in the name of atheism. They just happened to be atheists. Now the Crusades on the other hand, every war-mongering pope, and yes even Hitler himself, used religion and god as the justification for their destruction of human life. Big difference. Nobody has killed in the name of atheism, while millions of innocent people have been murdered and slaughtered in the name of god.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • bm

      They also were all men. Now that was more likely their problem.
      Or maybe it was that they all had mustaches? (Don't know about Mao though).

      January 26, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • The Phist

      Your post is horrific.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      And Hitler was a German. Does that mean that all Germans are mass murderers?

      January 26, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • onefootout

      wow, really? If that is what the koolaid of religion does for ya, I'm on the wagon.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • michaelwg

      Negative, the state just became the new religion, this is the crap atheists rail against ALL THE TIME, thinking before jumping on a bandwagon, using one's head, they did not kill in the name of Atheism, and though I can't speak of the others, Hitler had a lot of church backing. Try getting atheists in that number to do anything: "herding cats" as they say.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
  4. dick

    Good decision.

    January 26, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • Staring Horse with Tongue Stick Out

      I bet they pulled the God card in the debate. If the card doesn't make a dam bit of sense, you must aquit!

      January 26, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  5. DeeBee

    "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."

    Wait....what? The idea was to distinguish Alaska Airlines from other carriers by borrowing an idea from another carrier?

    January 26, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  6. Rosie

    Maybe Alaska Air should have asked what the majority of flyers thought before making their decision…Why is it the minority speak and get their way, and the majority stay silent and just go with the flow…How about asking the passenger if they would like to have it included with their meal or not. I for one feel at peace when I get it. It is time for the silent majority to take a stand and be heard....There is nothing wrong with giving thanks...If you don't like it then don't participate.

    January 26, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • Patriarchae

      Haha, trying to play the good ol' Persecuted Card, are ya? Well nobody's buying it. Christians are the VIOLENT, OUTSPOKEN majority, and your stupid victim complex doesn't change that.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • JT

      Why don't you go back and actually read the article? You will find they got more complaints than they got compliments. As a business, they made the correct decision.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • Clint

      It's a business, not a democracy. They do whatever they want within the laws that govern them.

      As stated, it wasn't the minority that was complaining, but in fact, the majority.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • Amanda

      Rosie, I agree 100%. The minority congregate to make their point, seems like something the majority need to keep in mind. It is sad that something like this has to stop because of a select few.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Again, Rosie, Amanda... In the article it stated that the majority of people complained, not a minority.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • ohnugget001

      @Amanda

      Mandy, Mandy, Mandy. Don't you realize we fortunately live in a democratic republic where the will of the majority cannot be exercised at the expense of the minority? Hence unions, anti-bullying laws, etc. Businesses are recognizing too that when they offend a significant number of their clientelle, that's not good for business. Bully for Alaskan for attention to the bottom-line and simultaneously not alienating a significant potential client base.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  7. Josh

    Freedom of religion is NOT freedom from religion.

    Too bad Alaskans aren't more tolerant of other's religious views (like Christen views). No one forces you to read the card, nor is there a pop quiz during the flight on its contents.

    January 26, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Adam C

      AA made a business decision based on consumer feedback. Should they not be able to operate their business the way that they see fit?

      January 26, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • Patriarchae

      I bet you wouldn't be playing that if they passed out cards with "Praise Allah" on them, hypocrite.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • Staring Horse with Tongue Stick Out

      Those cards give me the creeps. Not what I want to see on an airplane. I would take them and fold them into little airplanes and throw them at the "Hosts" or whatever they are called while they are pouring hot coffee.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • bm

      Bill of rights says both:
      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

      January 26, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Clint

      "Freedom of religion is NOT freedom from religion"

      No matter how many times you say it, it won't be true.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • onefootout

      ...and nobody prevents you from reading your bible on the airplane. Pull it out before dinner. Before you fly, write a nice thought on a 3×5 card and tuck it in your pocket. Nobody will care if you do that. Go for it man...be free...

      January 26, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  8. Likalion

    A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell.
    C. S. Lewis

    January 26, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Lol.

      CS Lewis was a pea-brained twat.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Adam C

      "The only good thing ever to come out of religion was the music."
      George Carlin

      January 26, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • Staring Horse with Tongue Stick Out

      CS Lewis was a smart man but spiritually inept. It really compromised his writing in my opinion. His fantasy fiction could have been the best (behind Tolkien) if he weren't so concerned about writing morality tales with talking critters. Stupid.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  9. Staring Horse with Tongue Stick Out

    I wrote a little poem for Bill, er... Will or whatever his name is. The guy who REALLY hates abortion and has been going on about it all day. It goes a little something like this:

    Bill and Will

    Will and Bill

    He doesn’t like the abortion pill!

    He’s pro-life

    So take that knife

    And kill something else JUST KILL!

    What’ll it be, take it from me, Bill and Will don’t care!

    Kids in a war or a spider on the floor, cows and chickens and fauna

    Defenseless creatures by the millions, and all the little critters in my lawn-A……..

    Coral reef doesn’t matter to him or the fish or the mammals or the flora

    Hey kill a bear! He doesn’t care. But don’t kill a human fetus anymore-a

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    There Bill, I hope that will confort you. Just remember how much killing we do that you don't even have to care about!

    January 26, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • Staring Horse with Tongue Stick Out

      *comfort

      January 26, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  10. yasureyabetcha

    Thank you Alaska Airlines for making the correct decision. It is your right to do whatever your board wants, however, I commend you on making a wise and enlightened choice.... Plus, it'll save you a few bucks on paper.

    January 26, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • LC B

      ditto . . . etc, etc, etc!

      January 26, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
  11. melena

    this is sad news, we are living in times where we need to grab on to hope, strength and love should abound, now I am highly insulted that prayer is being removed God was already taken out of our schools, what else?

    January 26, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Adam C

      If god is all powerful, and god has a plan, maybe god's plan is for religion to slowly fade away as we no longer need it?

      January 26, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Snow

      When you bring in every god out there, not just your christian god, I will be ok about it being in schools.. till then, keep yours at home like how every other religious person of different faith keeps theirs at their home..

      January 26, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • ohnugget001

      I sincerely desire that "God" is removed from every part of our secular life into which it has intruded. This nation is fortunately trending more secular even as the xtian right wing flings a lot of money and loud voices about in a last ditch effort to be noticed. The numbers, the facts, the real research results show that religion overall is dieing or at least being minimilized in the US and I am so gratefull for that.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Bobs Friend

      Snow: I don't know what country you're from, but in America, we don't have to keep any of our beliefs and opinions at home. Perhaps if you build the perfect totalitarian state, you can arrest any Christian who mentions Jesus, but until you reach your goal, we are still free to speak publicly about our faith, have prayer cards in our businesses, tell folks about Jesus in our Valedictorian speeches, pray before council meetings, proclaim the gospel on publicly funded sidewalks, warn people about the real dangers in violating Gods Law.
      In a free society, you may from time to time encounter people who have belief different than you, and you don't have the right to make them go home and shutup.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • bm

      If you are personally insulted by the criticism of an idea, then you have too much invested in it. Scientests are all the time trying to disprove theories, without ever taking it personally. Some even try to disprove their own theories.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Clint

      "Snow: I don't know what country you're from, but in America, we don't have to keep any of our beliefs and opinions at home."

      Actually, when it comes to government, public schools, the military, and anything related to those, you do. The day is coming when the "there's no more need for worrying about russian atheism" bill is passed and we get a real national motto and get "god" off our money.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • Andrew

      The fact that you feel god should be put inside public schools highlights the problem, you people feel any privilege taken away is an affront to your beliefs when NO OTHER RELIGION has the same privileges you do. You'd fight tooth and nail if a public school was having people recite islamic prayers, but if you're not allowed to force students to recite christian prayers, it's apparently a testament to how bad things are?

      Your christian privilege is showing.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • onefootout

      Just guessing, but how does the removal of a prayer card diminish your ability to worship or practice your religion? It doesn't. What it does do is not shove it in the face of people who don't have your same beliefs. GOD wasn't removed from the schools. GOD was never in the schools. If you believe in GOD, you would know that he is in you regardless. Religion is a man-created container that aggregates those who need to be held...and for those that really believe in GOD – they don't need any of that.

      Me – Agnostic – just for transparency

      January 26, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  12. newton

    I can still pray before each meal they serve me though, right? I mean, pray I dont get botulism

    January 26, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
  13. just sayin

    Nope the Dope

    January 26, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
  14. matt houston

    Oh no, there are gonna be more crashes for them now! NOT.

    January 26, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
  15. Staring Horse with Tongue Stick Out

    I cannot believe I have never flown Alaskan and did know of these prayer cards. I would have had a blast with those things. It would be a riot (literally, there would have been a riot).

    January 26, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • M3NTA7

      Whatever. That would be pretty stupid if you ask me. What's the point. Why waste your energy?

      January 26, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Staring Horse with Tongue Stick Out

      It wouldn't be my fault! But once I taught all the kids on the flight how to make little paper airplanes out of the cards and then they started throwing them all over the plane, a riot would naturally follow.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  16. Sad Demon

    Prayers give me 'the gum disease' gingivitis : ( I hate prayers! : (

    January 26, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  17. Chad

    I really am going to miss throwing those cards on the floor in front of the flight attendant. I love having the opportunity to display my disgust with such things but I suppose seeing religion on its deathbed is even more fulfilling.

    January 26, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • yasureyabetcha

      sweet

      January 26, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • bm

      I bet some of those flight attendants and pilots secretly applauded

      January 26, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  18. Michele

    I evaluate my airlines by their performance not their religious belief. The cards were a bit weird at best. I don't believe in the man with the beard in the sky nor that a child cannot go to heaven because he was born into the wrong religion. Not to say we can't make a difference in another's life every day. Heaven and hell are here on earth.

    January 26, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  19. Olaf Big

    Let them distribute this:
    Dear God almighty (or the random force of Nature for the closet atheists amongst us) please let my checked luggage arrive at the destination at the same time I do, also save and protect us against morbidly obese or morbidly talkative seat neighbors. Please keep the crying babies quiet and the flu-like symptoms away from me. Amen.

    January 26, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  20. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Pray without ceasing in 2012
    Prayer is talking with God
    No cards needed
    Just a willingness to listen and learn
    Prayer changes things

    January 26, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Nope

      We've been praying you would stop posting this crap, yet it continues, proving prayer doesn't work.

      Oh, and how about all those prayers for world peace that go unanswered.

      Oh and then there's the prayers of starving people around the world whose prayers go unanswered, dying by the millions.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • Patriarchae

      Sounds like you are suffering from schizophrenia. I advise that you seek a psychiatric doctor immediately.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • bringoutyourdead

      demons gather in dread of prayer

      January 26, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • ohnugget001

      I defy you to provide evidence that prayer to your particular deity has ever changed a real world scenario for either better or worse. Google "prayer research" and you will find several serious research efforts that were conducted, by religious organizations, that showed that prayer did not alter statistically known outcomes or actually decreased the likelihood of the desired, prayed for, outcome. Prayer has no utilitarian value.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • just sayin

      Nope-a-Dope

      January 26, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Myreality

      Prayer is the best way for people to do nothing while at the same time feeling like they did something important.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • newton

      prayer changes my net worth. Everytime I go to church to pray, they ask me for $20.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • An inconvenient truth

      Prayer was the foundation in ending the slave trade. Check out John Newton or William Wilberforce. Prayer was the foundation in the civil rights movement. Prayer propelled mankind through the centuries to the greatest discoveries and advancements in math and science.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • yasureyabetcha

      yeah, I'm sure God is just thrilled with having a bunch of his followers murmuring to him all the time. After all, the All Mighty needs you wing-nuts to tell him what to do....

      January 26, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • QS

      I agree, prayer changes things.....it changes the mindset of those praying from rational to irrational and it changes the normally humble, selfless person into an arrogant, self-righteous tool.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • just sayin

      based on your comment you radically overestimate your worth

      January 26, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • bringoutyourdead

      we need more carts the demons are piling up tonight

      January 26, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • Snow

      oh gee so convenient that you would stick prayer and god into every major human progress.. how about saying prayer was crucial in cavemen making hide out of animal skin or then creating fire.. or did the human kind come pre-programmed with such things?

      January 26, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • michaelwg

      So I was sitting in the office on a base in Afghanistan, and we had a report of an Afghani walking up to the fence saying that Allah sent him. All the Christians in the office laughed. They failed to see the irony.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • ohnugget001

      @An inconvenient truth

      What alternate reality are you from? Every single example you gave is not only false, but the exact opposite is true. Actions made all of those things occur, not prayer. I dare you to pray a demon away and request BringOutYourDead to come collect its charred corpse.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • An inconvenient truth

      Snow check out the book of Genesis for the origins of fire and skins and then get back to us.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Clint

      Sounds like the chant from the movie "the burbs" that the guy next door is doing in the basement with Tom Hanks, "evil is good, satin is our friend".......

      January 26, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • An inconvenient truth

      ohnugget001 You are the reason i gave a couple of names to reference in relation to prayer. You are so intent on your hatred you are avoiding the evidence. Your predisposed prejudice is showing.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • just sayin

      Clint satin is for sheets, ... i think the name you are groping for is Satan.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • Snow

      @An inconvenient truth, did god create the earth 6000 yrs ago complete with its anthropological evidence/bones/fossils dating back thousands more years? Did he makeup the carbon dating evidence that dates the age of burnt vegetation in soil that can be dated back hundreds of thousands years ago too?

      January 26, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Snow

      Also, check out the origin of magic from Harry Potter books and come back to us.. we can talk about the similar subject matter

      January 26, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • An inconvenient truth

      Deal with one thing at a time or move on .

      January 26, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • Snow

      cop-out.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:37 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.