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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. JT

    I never go to Chik-Filet or any business that has a jeeeeezus fish on it. They have every right of course and I have the right to bypass these businesses.

    January 26, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • George

      I fully support Chick Filet and will perfer them over other fast food when I'm at the mall.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • sam

      George has the Jesus Fish special.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • Staring Horse with Tongue Stick Out

      I have never eaten at a Chik-Fil-A

      Not because they are Christian, just because they have such a stupid name.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Al

      What's the deal with the cows? Are you sure the folks there aren't Hindu?

      January 26, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  2. Mom

    Sry but I don't get it why atheists/agnostics don't want to enter kingdom of heaven and be saved, rather than going to hell ?! It's very simply. Get baptised, believe in Christ and that's it! Very simple

    January 26, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Really now

      mom,

      We dont want to .... because we just don't believe it. Get it? If you can show some evidence, then we would believe. Would that make you happy?

      January 26, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • Andrew

      Because we don't believe a kingdom of god exists in the first place. It's like saying "well, why don't they want to go to candyland, all they need to do is wish really really hard?'

      That said, if the only entrance to the kingdom of god is offering sycophantic praise, even if it's real, I'd rather suffer in hell with people who care more about intellectual honesty than be near an egotistical monster who demands everlasting worship or punishes with everlasting torment. The christian image of heaven sounds a lot like my image of hell.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Adam C

      Mom, I don't understand why you are not trying to find your perfect self and get on the path of Nirvana? Its simple.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • George

      @Andrew

      You might just get your wish unless you repent.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • sam

      Don't want to play a bunch of games and say special words to try and go somewhere that *doesn't exist*.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Iggy Pop

      no.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Andrew

      George, I can't tell you how little I care. You're right, I 'might' get my wish to be in hell rather than near an evil malevolent god, but I find it far more likely that I'll die and simply rot in the ground until my body decomposes.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • George

      @Andrew

      If you don't burn in hell for your unbelief, you will surely burn for your blasphemy unless you repent before it's too late.

      January 26, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Andrew

      Again, George, I can't tell you how little I care. You're threatening me with nerf swords, with threats I put absolutely no stock in.

      January 26, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
  3. Swede

    Atheists should create their own godless country somewhere in the middle of nowhere.... let's see how long it would have lasted without a God and prayers.

    January 26, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • George

      I think that atheists should lose the right to vote. We can do that with a Christian Amendment.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Observer

      They'd have some of the world's smartest people for starters. See how much science progresses based on the flat, stationary earth in the Bible. Good luck using the ratio pi as 3.0. lol.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Really now

      Come on. Please.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Andrew

      So much for the const-tution. We'll fight you tooth and nail to prevent a theocracy, but look at it this way, if you get one instilled, all of the Dirac's, Feynman's, Sagan's, Einstein's in the country will very quickly move to a more open and tolerant society. We'll see how far we get without prayer, you see how far you get without science.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • bnb42

      Sadly Swde is right, there can be no atheist country... as soon as it forms all the religious countries will try to conquer it for "Their God'

      January 26, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Adam C

      lol @ George. That would never happen. There would be a civil war before there was a "Christian Amendment". It would play out much like the last civil war. The bible belt would lose.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Staring Horse with Tongue Stick Out

      It is funny you should say that. I am certainly not the first to suggest this, but if you would like to live in a Theocracy, YOU should move to, oh I don't know, some forsaken desert like your counterparts; the Jews and the Muslims.

      Here in America, we live in a secular society that values choice and religious freedom. And most importantly, separation of church and state.

      If you don’t believe in those values, sorry. You are not made for America.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Nibor

      ...But really it's almost exactly the opposite case though, isn't it? All the godless heathens are on the coasts: it's the most devout that occupy those (god-forsaken) middles of nowhere throughout the world.

      In any case, why couldn't Alaska Airlines put little pockets of cards next to the magazine racks? For those who value them to take, and those who are offended by them to ignore.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • sam

      George believes in a world where the majority would be stupid enough to invent this amendment based on his delusion. That's so precious!

      January 26, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • George

      @Adam C.

      So you don't get your way and you threaten civil war? Don't you believe in democracy? It would be democratically elected leaders who put a Christian Amendment into place.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • moonster

      Atheists are a minute part of any society. They couldn't handle so much land.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Adam C

      @George
      A "Christian Amendment" would violate the 1st Amendment. It would be impossible in the current day and age for such an amendment to come into being. As such, if such an amendment was passed, it would be radically changing our country. I, and I believe many others, would view that as extremists seizing the government of the United States. That would justify a civil war.

      But, as I mentioned, it will never happen. There is not the political will nor do you have the majorities that you think you have. And each year, your numbers dwindle.

      January 26, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • George

      I will also want to be part of doing virginity checks to make sure women are doing what they're supposed to.

      January 26, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  4. George

    It seems to me awfully petty that people would get upset over a simple card that they don't even have to read, much less believe. I will not be flying Alaskan Airlines anytime soon because they caved in to a vocal minority.

    January 26, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • JT

      They clearly said they got more complaints than positive comments. Why don't you try reading the article for a change. You christians are finally not allowed to bully everone else so deal with it.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • bff

      George,
      You must be blind to the countless little (and some big) ways religion is "slipped under the door" in our society. When you hold a different opinion, these things pop out like a sore thumb. People are no longer afraid to voice opposition, wherever it comes from. You indignation is a natural reaction to loosing a little something you have gotten too used to.
      But if you start thinking of others rather than yourself, you might begin to understand.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • sam

      Stay off all airplanes and stay at home so no one in any other part of the world has to deal with you.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Al

      They have only a couple of flights to the Bible belt so I think they will be just fine.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • George

      @bff

      As for religion being slipped under the door, I think atheists are too sensitive and too petty.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • George

      @Al

      Many Christians such as myself don't live in the Bible Belt.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • bff

      @George
      You are selfish.
      I know a little jewish girl in Texas that went to a public school. She was called a christ killer by her classmates. She was the helpless minority. But, you know, we are just being petty.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Staring Horse with Tongue Stick Out

      George! Always nice to hear from you. I once lived in the Bible belt and as a result, I KNOW where Hell acutally is.....wait for it......

      OKLAHOMA

      January 26, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  5. Matt

    I don't care what atheists believe.... STOP shoveling your nonbelief in our throats and we will stop too !

    January 26, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • go4it

      We've been waiting for 2000 years. All we needed to do all that time was to stand up to you?

      January 26, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Observer

      Matt,

      So no more "pray in school" efforts? No more "pray at sports events" efforts? No more nonsense about the world going to pot because students no longer have the chance to ignor the Ten Commandments in schools?

      January 26, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Swede

      The only thing we want is Good Friday and Easter to be federal holidays and nothing else, like 135 other countries

      January 26, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Andrew

      Yes because we're trying so hard to get creationism taught in classrooms, we're trying so hard to restrict the civil rights of consensual adults to marry, we make up such a large portion of government, we're trying to get 'there is no god' engraved on public property and buildings, we're being so invasive with our 'non-belief', right?

      Except, well, we're not. The most common place you see atheists expressing their non-belief and 'shoving it down your face' is thanks to the anonymity of the internet, the only place we feel secure enough to voice our non-belief. We occasionally have a bus campaign, or a billboard, which receive incredible amounts of protest, but if a christian does it, well, nothing.

      You seem to fail to understand that there is a double standard here. We're not shoving non-belief down your throat, we're trying to get it so christanity has its privileges removed and is treated like ANY other religion. Christians were among the most vocal protesters of the whole '9/11 mosque' fiasco, and atheists were among the most ardent defenders of their right to erect a mosque. However if a muslim wants to get a public school to recite verses of the quran every morning, you'll find we quickly will organise against that as well.

      We have a problem with the privileged at-itude of christians in the country, it's not shoving non-belief in your faces when you people have a tendency to ask for special status in the US not afforded to other beliefs. Christians want to build a new church, fine, but apparently if muslims want to build a mosque, there are major Christian protests. Atheists are fair, we'll support anyone's right to believe, as long as those beliefs don't make their way into public policy or space.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • sam

      Nice try. 'bawwww, I'm soooo persecuted, wah'.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Adam C

      No, you won't stop. It isn't hard to imagine what a society is like when religion rules. The results have been disastrous.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  6. ab

    Palin in her video clip says the US is a Judeo-Christian nation. Not "Christian" but "Judeo-Christian." I'd argue then that the US is a Jewish nation, as in "Judeo" which comes first. Actually, though, I'm Buddhist and American so I know all this is just baloney.

    January 26, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  7. Will

    I'm glad they ended this. It's insulting to proselytize to paying customers.

    January 26, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  8. Atheists WATCH WATCH !!!! Jesus loves you

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uuc2aWJnmQ8&w=640&h=390]

    January 26, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • sam

      Great...two hours of watching some guy be tortured for no good reason. Nice lesson.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • mattand

      Isn't copyright infringement a sin?

      January 26, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Jenna

      ^sam
      that man wasn't tortured for nothing. That man was tortured and died on the cross to save everyone, including you from going to hell! Even though you are too stupid and smug to realize it. He had the choice, but he saw that your life was more important than his. So he willing laid down his life, conquered and overcame death and the devil. So that when you die you can have eternal life, instead of burning in hell. Which looks like the path you are heading towards now with out Jesus in your life. But that's easy to change, all you have to do is let him inside.

      January 26, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      I see a wuss getting his ass kicked, so what.

      January 26, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • sam

      Jenna...if it means I end up spending eternity with blowhards like you, I say Jesus did me no favors.

      January 26, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  9. Rahul

    Sooooo glad to be Buddhist!

    January 26, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
  10. Destaphenes

    Good to see this end. Not that I have ever been on that airline, but I would have rolled my eyes SO hard had I got one. I mean, come on now. This is the real world, we don't have faeries, gods, boogeymen, goblins, or trolls (except for most of the people in this comment thread). Religion must be abolished, and it will be slowly over time.

    January 26, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Gedwards

      You forgot a couple of other things you don't believe in: entropy and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Why do you ignore science and the truth behind it?

      January 26, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Very sad

      You've never flown this airline, and probably don't fly first class, so what does your opinion matter? I think the pictures are pretty.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • iamacamera

      Fine for you. Just don't fly Alaska Air. If I'd known they did that I'd have flown the airline as often as possible.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • sam

      @camera – seriously? You'd have flown them just to get a special Jesus trading card? You're so easy.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  11. Observer

    Trying to force their beliefs on atheists, agnostics, and people of other religions is a perfect example of Christian HYPOCRITES who don't follow the Golden Rule.

    January 26, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Very sad

      I'm pretty sure that most people would say sharing a small card with a pretty picture and a line of gospel isn't exactly forcing a harsh christain agenda on anyone. If you don't want the card throw it away, NBD. The reason they got more complaints than complements is it probably didn't jazz those who enjoyed it on one side of the spectrum as much as it annoyed those who can't understand other's relgious beliefs. I'm not sure I'll be giving Alaskan any more of my business. I'm sad that they caved to perceived political pressure. Besides, what do you guys care, its those evil 1%s in first class anyway.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  12. Jessy

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LahUxkyaRh8&w=640&h=390]

    January 26, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • Will

      No one cares what that brainless redneck had to say.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • Observer

      Has ANYONE ever heard Palin praised for her intellect?

      January 26, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • bnb42

      I guess the treaty of tripoli is another of many things she doesn't know about....

      "The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation."
      – Treaty of Tripoli (1797), carried unanimously by the Senate and signed into law by John Adams

      January 26, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  13. sean

    What a shame the airline felt it had to respect other religions and beliefs but not their own.

    January 26, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Observer

      What a shame that the airline had respect for other people and no longer is trying to force their beliefs on others. Amazing! Someone actually practicing the Golden Rule.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  14. Jessy

    If an airplane is on the way to crasch.... what do atheists say?? No prayers LOL

    January 26, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • really now

      Holy Sh!t !!!!

      January 26, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Lol, who's smarter--you or your cat?

      Honest question.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • JT

      So? The prayers wouldn't do anything anyway

      January 26, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • bnb42

      When a plane as about to crash into a building an atheist might wonder why he got on a plane with a bunch of religious nutjobs.....

      January 26, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • bnb42

      Remember science builds airplanes....
      and Religion flies them into buildings!

      January 26, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • Destaphenes

      What a stupid comment. What are you 3?....when a plane in going down why would you start talking to yourself asking for help?, unless you are mentally ill. Why not do something else, like light a smoke up, or yell BOMB!!!, just to help distract people....lol

      January 26, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • Destaphenes

      @bnb42 "Remember science builds airplanes....
      and Religion flies them into buildings!" I like this comment. Very true.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • Andrew

      If a plane is about to crash? I'd probably call my family and tell them I love them, try to spend as long as possible talking to the people I care about, then, right before death, I'd almost certainly utter the words 'oh fuc-'.

      Somehow, more comforting than praying for my life and missing the last precious moments I could spend talking to those I care about.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • true

      No, you idiot, we put on our parachutes and find the nearest exit.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Fat Albert

      Really, how does one misspell the word "crash"?

      January 26, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Dave Matthews

      Crasch into me, baby...

      January 26, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
  15. Oldie in TampaBay

    what a sad world we have become. Kind of makes one wonder WHEN/WHERE it will all end.

    January 26, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • bff

      Yea, those d@mn airlines are charging for the restroom now.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  16. moonster

    People grip about the most minute things.

    January 26, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • sam

      In George's case, they have no choice but to try to grip a minute thing.

      January 26, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
  17. logan5

    Having trouble deciding what to do with the leftovers? That's simple, just burn them! I am just blown away by this news. What a slap in the face to atheists, non believers, and those of other faiths. And I thought Sarah Palin was the most idiotic thing to come out of Alaska.

    January 26, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • Kitty

      You'll be wanting those prayer cards AND PRAYING AND BECOMING A BELIEVER if you're on a plane with mechanical difficulties and you think you're going to perhaps DIE!!! As a Christian I'm &*()&**(& tired of companies and society catering to atheists and non-believers. God will sort it all out in the end.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • Jeff C

      @Kitty your god-of-choice isn't going to help while your plane is going down, primarily because it doesn't exist. I'm glad to see this company has finally realized that spreading a myth isn't good business.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  18. kate

    prayer cards might come in handy when the plane goes into a tail spin or the engines stop.....

    January 26, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • logan5

      I honestly don't think those prayer cards are going to do anyone a damn bit of good if the plane goes into a tail spin or the engines fail LOL

      January 26, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • really now

      You could jump out the window and flap them like a bird, no?

      January 26, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • JT

      The only way they'll come in handy is if everyone is given a card, sticks their arms out the windows and flaps like hell.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • Yarah

      All they had to do if they didn't want a prayer card what to refuse it. And yes they would cry out to God if they were in a tail spin. Couldn't have said it better myself. God Bless. Oooops, I guess I will get deleted for that remark on the end.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • go4it

      So I could be a mass murderer, but if I say a prayer during a tailspin, that willl somehow make me good with god?

      January 26, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
  19. Staring Horse with Tongue Stick Out

    @Bill and Will

    Let’s not continue bickering over a women’s right to choose. Let’s help the impoverished men, women and children of this world. Babies with no food to eat and no clean water to drink. Disease and malnutrition taking their lives before they have a chance to live to the age of 5.

    Let’s help the countries and communities devastated by natural disasters and wars all over the world. Families who have lost everything who need food and health care.

    Let’s save the living ocean from our constant contamination and the great forests and wild lands of the world from our oil drilling and tree slashing.

    All of these living things need our help and attention right now.

    Let’s mind our own business when it comes to abortion, unless the abortion affects you personally. Then it is a personal choice for the pregnant woman.

    Instead we can save lives all over the world and work towards preserving the environment for future generations of flora and fauna, including people. (But if there were no people, clearly that would be a much better scenario for the 2 million known animals, the other many millions of undiscovered creatures and the plant life that sustains us all.)

    January 26, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  20. Too sad

    Wow. The anger spewing out on this board. For a bunch of people who don't believe in any power greater than yourselves . . . wait, now I get it – you don't believe in any power greater than yourselves! So that's why you think it's ok (at least anonymously on a comment board) to make the personal of attacks against other people. Kudos. On your deathbeds, you can look back on your lives, spent worshipping your own egos, and breathe easy. Kudos.

    January 26, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • Staring Horse with Tongue Stick Out

      Too sad
      Apparently you haven't read the posts. Oh, and while you are at it read yours! I think I detect some spewing! (Gross)

      January 26, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      For an interesting read, you might want to review the comments Christians have made, just in, oh, the last 20 minutes. I think you'll find that atheists aren't the only ones who post angry comments.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • Observer

      Too sad,

      Your side says that anyone not doing exactly what you tell them to do is such low life that they deserve to spend eternity burning in hell.

      Sure good that there's no anger involved there.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • logan5

      Can you really be this obtuse??
      Just because people don't believe in the Christian god does not mean they don't believe in something transcendent or supernatural. They're just smart enough and HONEST enough to see past the BS on which Christianity is predicated and know better than to characterize and define what cannot be characterized or defined.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • booboo

      watch out logo.. youre about to get the beatdown by the athiests for believing in spirtual hoodoo voodoo..

      January 26, 2012 at 8:41 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.