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.
"...religion is inappropriate on an airplane....” Really? It's inappropriate? Hmm.. I wonder how many people have prayed to God when afraid during turbulence or some other problem.
@ Mike, of course it's a big world, but I am using myself as an example of someone of a practicing member of another faith who isn't offended by these cards (since that was their implicit claim for removing them). I'd imagine people should be reasonable enough not to get offended by something that conveys good will. The problem here is that in our race to promote neutrality we have decided to kick everyone out the door instead of welcoming everyone else in. We're left with an empty room, and that kind of party sucks.
Wrong, We haven't kicked everyone out the door. Those who want a compromise with NEITHER side pushing their agenda will still be here. The ones leaving were those who just wanted to push their religion on others. The true supporters of the Golden Rule are still there.
An empty room? There are three hundred million people in the USA. If we get rid of a few bad ones, the room does not become empty but full of much more peaceful and non-violent people who are now safer than they were before.
Hey Ahmed! Great to know you have a wide heart. People these days too much focus on themselves. I think they don't understand what it means to respect others and being relax. Too easy get offended, so lame. They say that religion is personal, then why should get offended of a card? seriously, America, you're such a crying baby!
The voices in your head will tell you when to kill.
As far as I'm aware, Alaska Airlines hasn't had the $$$ problems like the more-secular United, American, Pan-Am, or Eastern (e.g. bankruptcy, shut-down, etc.) and has even gotten several awards this decade for customer service, job satisfaction, etc. So for 30 years, these prayer cards apparently haven't been THAT much of financial liability.
Has anyone deliberately refused to fly Alaska *solely* because of these cards?
Southwest has had more customer service awards recently....
I read where Alaska Airlines got the idea from Continental Airlines through their marketing dept. Whether Continental was handing out religious cards is not known to me. It may have started as a gimmick, but like having segregated water fountains as a gimmick, we are trying to grow as a country past these remnants of old, nasty ideas that were unAmerican in promoting injustice, inequality, violence, and hate.
I respect the decision but I do not agree with this wonderful tradition and a wonderful word of exhortation !
If you are so worried about hurting religious beleifs, then why do so many Americans , Canadians, Europeans easily
adjust and fly (most frequently) on Middle Eastern airline carriers which frequently has verses recited and displayed from the quran or islamic verses ???!!!!.......how come none of them stop and continue what they do ??? Its the west and those nations who follow christian beleifs are adjusting so much that you are loosing your own identily !!!!
I was with you for the correct use of 'exhortation' but then you lost me with 'loosing'. So close.
Partnering with Emirates might have something to do with it.
Well, I'll keep the cards displayed, but will cover up the Alaska Airlines portion of them.
Folding the bottom portion up, removed the Alaska Airlines portion from view. That was easy.
I can't think of a BETTER time to PRAY than when you're on an airplane.....believe me, this is not O.K. with the Alaskans who have kept this company in business for all these years !!!
They should have replaced them with philosophical quotes, or some other quotes that are religiously neutral. There is tons of them, and many are much more interesting than psalms. Fortune cookies come to mind ! :)
Ok, but we tried that in my workplace, and someone still found a way to be offended. So while I wholeheartedly agree with your suggestion, I have seen it fail. ROFL
I'd rather have competent mechanics working on the planes, and competent pilots flying them, than a silly prayer card any day.
Right. Because the options are either having a prayer card or having competent mechanics. Having both is strictly prohibited.
She wasn't even saying that! Don't call her a moron, you doosh.
sam and tallulah sittin in a tree...kay eye ess ess eye enn gee! =)
@Art – whaaaaaaaaat. I should be so lucky. Dude, just because she was right and I was backing it up?
You're the one drawing hearts, not me. I'm just teasing you anyway. "They howl when they're hit" they say...
This was a personal choice from the Airlines. Since they are a private company,
they have the freedom of speach to distribute these prayer cards.
However, even though the majority of people, most religious, some not,
don't mind the cards, some do and have voice concerns about them. Again, using
THIER freedom of speach. Companies want to be solvent and want to attract
customers, not alienate them by offending them. To them, the best way not do that
was to not distributing this material that focused on one very personal view point
while ignoring others' viewpoints. I find no fault in this.
Well...ok. I think?
Then why did they do it in the first place?
It seemed like a good idea at the time...?
I think someone pointed out that they could be sued and decided to stop before that happened. It's about money and keeping customers happy. If they handed out copies of the Catholic Last Rites, it would be very similar. Like"keep God in mind because you could die at any moment!" when there is a real need to watch where you're going in an airplane.
What if the pilots were so religious that they closed their eyes to pray as they landed? Not a good set of priorities there.
They are a waste of resources.. If you want to read scripture bring a Bible.
Mittens...is that you? I'm going to fck you over the big desk in the oval office when I'm pres.
I really don't see what the big deal is here. I'm a practicing Muslim, and I have no problems at all with these cards! They're beautiful and serene. Whenever I fly (and I do quite often) the first One I think about is God. In what crazy world where a beautifully written card reminding us to give thanks to the Almighty and His enduring love offensive? I mean it would be nice to include verses from the Quran and the Torah and others to be more inclusive, but the alternative is not to do away with it altogether! Is a middle ground really that elusive??
You know where islam came from, right?
These two particular sentences on the cards are taken from the Torah.
Great, it doesn't bother you. The world doesn't revolve around just you, it's a big world.
Religion is like a disease, the sooner we get rid of this 'meme' the better. There is not an ounce of data to suggest god or spirit exists, yet billions are brainwashed from childhood. When will people realize that the emperor has no clothes ?
Wow, I have never heard of religion being referred to as a meme before. LOLcats...watch out.
hmmmm, I should have called in, I thought it was fantastic, bold, and I was grateful! Don't end this tradition!
Are you honest enough to say if you'd have the same feelings if they were verses from the Quran?
Much of the Quran and the Old Testament overlap.
Yeah, looking out over that water and remembering how the seat is a flotation device and being handed a card with Psalm 23:4 on it... Priceless.
Virgin Atlantic should pass out condoms.
@wirebird That might defeat the purpose of being virgin atlantic.
No mile high club allowed!
Religion inappropriate on an airplane? I can't think of many places where it would be more appropriate! Sorry to see Alaska Airlines cave in to rampant secularism. It's a shame.
It's nice to see a business that is willing to discard worthless religious bullsh!t. A breath of fresh air indeed!
Sorry, but they're only caving because it hits their bottom line. They never cared in the first place.
Religious people are gullible and stupid. Cater to the dumb, rich, religious ones and you can make big buck$$$$$!
So Christians can have prayer cards, but when a Muslim starts reciting from the Qur'an on a plane, all hell breaks loose.
This is why Alaska has done the right thing. Keep religion in church or in the home, where it belongs.
I have no problem with any beliefs, Muslim, Christianity, etc. The Bible says to spread the word, be tolerant. I respect all beliefs Mormon too. "Love thy neighbor"....
So individuals have to hide their beliefs? You keep your beliefs at home as well then. All is equal then right? Can't respect people's beliefs and they shouldn't have to respect yours.
Douglas, really? What about what the bible says?
Will Christ be tolerant enough of non-Christians to allow them into heaven when they die, and of people who refuse to convert when he returns?
Dude, seriously, after 9/11, anyone standing up and quoting from any holy book (or hell, even just a harlequin romance) would be pwned in seconds by rightfully paranoid passengers.
Whatever Christ chooses to do is what Christ chooses to do. We don't have the ability to speculate on what Christ will or will not do. However, we can control what we do and we can choose to be tolerant of others. What Christ chooses to do for you upon your death, whenever that may be, is irrelevant to this question of what we do for one another. I think overall atheists are more aggressive about forcing their beliefs onto others than many radical Christians.
"I think overall atheists are more aggressive about forcing their beliefs onto others than many radical Christians.
Not remotely close. Look over the comments. There have been MANY Christians on here saying that the airline should try to force the religious cards onto passengers. NOT ONE atheist has said that the airline should hand out cards saying something like "God is Dead". You obviously haven't read the comments very well.
Oh Yeah, keep in mind that it wasn't a bunch of atheists that flew planes into buildings on 9/11.
"We don't have the ability to speculate on what Christ will or will not do."
Funny, most fundamentalist Christians I know seem to be under the impression that it's all laid out in Revelation, and that Christ WILL follow this script dutifully, punishing those they think deserve punishing. But if you're saying that Christ is his own man and could come back as the savior of the Red Chinese, the Scientologists, the whales, or whoever he wants to side with then why place your faith in the guy?
Hey Alaska Airlines execs, I still have 2 of the cards I received from your airlines years ago.
How's that for advertising?
Did I keep any other airline's ads? No? Why not?
Think before you leap.
Yeah, because the same crap can't be found in, I don't know... a bible?
See the orange card at the top of the page Phist? At the bottom of it, they chopped off "Alaska Airlines". I knew that because I still have the card from that flight years ago.
Some advertisers know what they're doing, and some don't.
I don't have any of these useless cards.
I have 2 of them, about a meter away, in plain view.
Looking around, I see nothing else from any other company. The guy that thought it up 30 years ago, had to have been a marketing genius.
They got the idea from Continental Airlines. I don't know if the religious part of it is included in the marketing ploy to appeal to dumb rich people who think little cards is a "classy" touch or what.
This is too bad....our country was raised God fearing and Christain based ideology. The politically correct people have eliminated and destroyed the moral fabric of our nation.. Whether it's Christianity or "gay pride", the attacks go on. I for one am a proud Christain with quality values. Yes the same God created us all but mankind finds ways to deviate from the truth. Please keep the cards onboard and stand up for your beliefs...if you don't we are all falling deeper into the perils of hell.
I don't even know where to start. I'm too tired. Quality values...*quality values*....'christian based ideology'....the false beliefs here are staggering. Someone else step up, here, I'm verklempt.
The civil war was neither civil, nor a war...discuss...
Please tell us why your faith is so shaky that you cannot take enough of your own religious literature on board and need a card to remind you of your faith.
Who said he needed the card to remind him of his faith? He likes having them aboard. He wants them kept aboard, that's all he said. Some of you make incredibly strange assumptions and then talk about "logic."
Amen, Douglas. Amen.
If he doesn't need them for himself, the obvious answer is he wants them there to help force his religion on others. That's the whole point here and why it's the atheists/agnostics that are actually supporting the Golden Rule and the Christians trying to ignor it.
Sorry you keep missing questions:
Why in the world are you here? Why work on atheists when there are FAR FAR MORE Christians who commit adultery by remarrying. Do the most good by working on the MUCH GREATER number of adulterous Chistians.
typo: adulterous CHRISTIANS
I don't see how these prayer cards amount to forcing religion on someone. If you don't want them, you don't have to read them. It really is that simple.
How could you have missed the question AGAIN?
What makes you think that I don't do those things? I am a lay minister in my church.
How many remarried adulterous Christian couples have you told will be going to hell unless they divorced? Number please.
George's church is a shack out on the back 40 of some TX pastureland and there are 4 participants.
It has befallen onto me personally to ask several members to leave our church because they were not living Christian lives.
How many did you kick out ONLY because they were remarried? How many couples did you tell that they must get divorced because they are adulterous?
...make that 3 participants.
How many people did Jesus tell to get lost ? Would they be the ones who need to stay the most ? OMG. What a judgmental self righteous fool. YOU tell yourself you are a Christian. You sir, are NOT.
Douglas it is a shame. This is precisely why Christians must remember that those who attack the Truth are liars. They lie because they don't know and yet pretend they do. If only they could be brave enough to admit they don't know, instead of hiding behind the facade of lies and insults. Some Christians are fooled ipby these loud lies. All the more reason to keep giving out such true prayer cards. Think of Chinese restaurants not ashamed to show wisdom of confucious or a giant Buddha. Christians I hope remember they not only don't offend anyone they Truly bless others by sharing their faith,
The United States was created with a deliberately secular government, to protect the freedom of all.
"They lie because they don't know and yet pretend they do. If only they could be brave enough to admit they don't know, instead of hiding behind the facade of lies and insults"
That certainly can apply to Christians too since they have NO PROOF.
Observer, first of all please understand there is a world of difference between having proof and being able to show scientific proof. I do experience God. I know. To whom much is revealed much is expected. I'm telling you, God chose me as He has many. But think about it. Suppose you saw or heard God. Could you publish a paper on it? Could you meet the demands for proof of those who reject your word as merely Elvis sightings or psychology? So you see I do know I have proof but I can't give you the proof you seek.
Of course you don't have proof! Your god does not exist! It's all in your head! I bet you hear voices, too!
i'm glad you corrected that, Observer... i first read it as "chitstains"...
We're becoming a nation of overly sensitive brats with nothing better to do but force our petty issues onto others. Oh no, the company that I'm using gave me a prayer card and I'm so offended. Really? If you don't want the prayer card, give it back with the tray. If you don't even like the sight of it, don't look at it. It's like dessert or free bread. They can present it to you but you don't have to stuff it down your own throat and then blame them for putting it in front of you.
I don't see anything offensive about these, either. Don't followers of all religions believe in the same God? The people complaining about the Scripture verses are probably the same ones who get annoyed when someone tells them to have a nice day.
You know...I have to agree. Things have gotten out of hand as far as 'I'm offended, therefore you must cater to me'. Yet at the same time, a public ent.ity kind of has to cater to the broadest possible audience to remain fiscally viable; so if they're passing out something that obviously leans toward a particular faith, that's going to run into trouble. Sure, it makes sense to just ignore whatever doesn't fit into your worldview...but how common is common sense? Have you seen any, lately?
"Don't followers of all religions believe in the same God?"
Not really. A Muslim and a Jew don't see God as having a son, for example, so they don't all believe in the same God. Christians believe in a trinity, Jews do not, and Muslims believe in a God who gave a final testament to Muhammad. Other religions have other ideas of what God is like and some folks even reject the entire idea of gods even existing. These prayer cards are aimed quite specifically for Judeo-Christian believers.
So that means you approve of getting god off of our money and out of the plege?
What if they handed out graphic pictures of a nayked Jesus with most of his guts ripped out hanging from a cross?
Or had constant religious commercials playing on the little tv screen in front of your seat and did not allow you to change it or cover it up as this would violate their religious extremist "freedom"?
Or they could hand out pictures of whole families being burned alive because they were judged heretics by the Holy Inquisitors?
It's just the sort of stuff I see when they hand out these tracts. They think they're handing me something nice, but I see the hate of everything else that does not conform with their religious fantasies. I complain if I can be sure they won't hunt me down and kill me at some future point. I am deadly serious. You cannot trust religious people at all. They are insane.
“If you don't want the prayer card, give it back with the tray. If you don't even like the sight of it, don't look at it”
So you wouldn’t mind if they handed out cards saying ‘The bible is a book of fantasies’ or ‘there is no god’? you’d just not look at it and give it back with the tray? I don’t think so.
I bet if the plane were going down many would want the prayer cards..
Try again. If the plane where going down, I'd want reason and level-heads to prevail and save as many lives as possible.
There is a huge difference between believing and wishful thinking. Many might be doing just wishful thinking.
Great answer Scott. Couldn't have said it better myself. Yet another reason religion needs to be separate from church and state.
Scott, how would prayer cards prevent individuals from having level-heads and courage? Couldn't it be just as likely that the card could inspire someone to be heroic? Also, using your implied line of logic, if individuals who have faith are illogical, couldn't they be inspired to act "illogically" with regard for the safety and well-being of others as opposed to acting logically for self-preservation, as is our nature as human beings? This is especially the case in emergency situations. Why prayer has become associated with fanaticism and delusion in your mind, I don't know. In any case, did you ever think that maybe prayer is another way of reflecting on your own life? I mean life is supposed to be self-centered right? Improving oneself. If religion leads individuals toward a path of self-improvement and they positively influence those around them by example, shouldn't we encourage that? Of course this does not imply that self-improvement is precluded without religion but I suppose ignorance is bliss for some. Well done Scott, very logical.
Even the Christians would want to go for something better than an idiotic card. I find it difficult to imagine that any streesful event on an Alaskan flight caused anyone to say "Stewardess! Quick! Get me a Psalm card because I don't know what to do!"
Would you request a Psalm card if the plane was going down? Really? Do you REALLY think you would do something that idiotic?
Actually, if you are on a plane that is going down, and as you pray (maybe with your psalm card), there is at least one atheist on board to ask you why you are praying to the same God who is killing you at that moment.
"Religion needs to be separated from CHURCH and state?" Yea I definitely agree, you really could not have said it better than Scott or anyone else for that matter.
Second Scott, do you really think that the flight crew is being level headed if they want to read prayer cards during an emergency instead of running their checklists, communicating with their ground support, and thinking the problem through? Would you really want to have those people as your flight crew?
@Yabba Dabba Doo, I'm Christian but I don't believe that God would be killing the people, and I don't believe that He hates atheists. He allows people to have their own free will, which includes making mistakes and bad decisions, and I think that he's saddened by atheists but hopes they will turn to him.
Rolph, I would certainly say, someone is very calm and collected if, during an emergency situation they are able to sit down and read a prayer card and find solace in it. Communicating with ground support is what the captain is doing. The flight crew should just be comforting the passengers and preparing.
Life's hard. People can find comfort in these verses, and still take appropriate actions in an emergency.
To God it's a 'mistake' not to believe in him, but not because it's so obvious that he exists, right? It's because, if you don't believe in him, you end up on his bad side and nasty things happen to you as a result. Kinda like how you end up in the hospital if you're a shopkeeper who refuses to pay the local gang protection money.
Chris, you're right. Don't be fooled by the dishonest answers you get here. There are no true "atheists."
"Don't be fooled by the dishonest answers you get here. There are no true "atheists."
Please try to explain such apparent nonsense.
Observer, well first of all I agree with the other Chris, if a plane is about to crash most people would be praying. I'm old enough to have heard plenty of stories, including from people in wars who jumped in the trenches and joined in catholic prayers even though they'd never gone to church or practiced. And you know what, thank God for that! Don't be offended by it there's not offense to take. It's a good thing, and it's a darned ophinest thing to at least be like Einstein and have the guts to say, don't call me an atheist. In humility I could be called an agnostic because there is so much unknown. Now I've heard most "atheists" these days call themselves "agnostic atheists" and great that's in fact really nice to hear. Most Christians will tell you they have doubts. I just happen to have been someone God chose for a purpose. I was an agnostic till I was 30. I'm glad to share the message I've been given. But God lpalready let me in on the fact that everyone knows Him. And that's the real reason there are no true atheists. The main thing I think I can do here is simply remind people if they've gotten so out of kilter they've forgotten for the moment but what they already know. God is inside each one of us, and we can surely find Him.
Of course, there are true atheists. Christopher Hitchens, Carl Sagan, George Carlin, etc. all maintained their lack of belief to the end.
Your logic disintegrates when you pretend that someone under stress becomes a "believer" when the reality is that they are "wishful thinkers". They may HOPE there is a God, but they don't necessarily BELIEVE there is a God. There have been many stories of people who were "believers" when they thought they might die, but afterwards reverted back to their old ways (and there have been those who stayed in faith).
Bottom line, your wishful thinking in no way offers proof that there are no true atheists.
Observer, all 3 you mention I am a big fan of. I've said prayers for all 3 too. Theres more to it than I know or could say. And I surely don't want to use any person as a focus of any argument. So since you know I am not arguing, I will say what I believe and we can simply agree or disagree on parts. I believe all people including the Carl Sagan, George Carlin and Christopher Hitchens loved in their hearts, knew love, had compassion for others, sympathy, empathy. I realize in their in's they may not have thought they knew God. But it is more complex than than that too. Clearly each explored religion and I've also lived long enough to know we don't always say or express everything, most people keep some things very private. And then I believe God knows us better than we know ourselves. I still would not call anyone a true atheist. Perhaps someone who has searched and maintained a desire for a certain form of evidence and remained unsatisfied. Again you are welcome to call them atheists and leave it at that then we can agree to disagree.
I'm impressed that you know what went on in the minds of three brilliant men better than they did. I think there are medical terms for that condition.
@Jim:” God … allows people to have their own free will”
Except he will burn you in hell for all of eternity unless you use your free will to do exactly what he says
A win for reason.
A small loss for humanity and a blow to respect for others.
Lost, it's not really either, although I can see how someone would see it that way if they believed something in particular. You have to allow for the rest of the world and its beliefs to be accounted for, to some degree, and if only one faith seems to be represented in a public place...doesn't that seem like a loss for humanity and a blow to respect for anyone who doesn't believe what you might believe?
Interesting point but we should approach this from the basis first. We begin with a human being, the bare human has no beliefs. Religion is thought of as an add-on, something extra. Why? Because people choose to practice religion and have faith. So, having nothing at all in the public place should be sufficiently representative of all human beings and having a prayer card should be accommodating other beliefs. The individuals who do not believe are neither forced to believe nor are they forced to read, obey, oblige, or respect the prayer card or what it says. This was my view of the matter. I see where you're coming from and I hope you understand what I'm trying to say as well.
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.