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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. BeeBop

    I travelled on Alaska Airlines this year and liked the prayer card. I did not take it personally, it was a nice gesture as I was not in first class but the Stewardress kindly gave me a meal to share with my co-Travellers after a long wait after a missed flight. I will not forget this kindess. That simple kind act made me say a prayer of thanks for the meal and the kindness shown by the Airline.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  2. No Religion

    Funny how the religious people on here say "Another small but meaningful way that Christianity is under assault" and "Hilarious how people (mostly atheists) want to get offended over a little card, shows how insecure atheists really are in their beliefs." Yet, if they handed out atheist cards the religious ass*oles would be all up in a huff about having their rights infringed on. Guess what? It works both ways!!!! Staying neutral is the right thing to do because religion is a personal thing, not something to be forced on people.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Pete

      Exactly...what business does an airline have handing out religious material...or athiestic material...or birthday cards for that matter...churches should handle religious stuff...airlines should handle flying.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Alfred E Neuman

      If Santorum /Palin get the White House you had better know how to pray.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Mom

      If an atheist handed me a card with a beautiful picture and a few simple words about evolution or whatever, I'd say thank you. Doesn't mean I believe it, but it's the polite thing to do. Passengers on Alaska Airlines were essentially paying "guests" on their planes and the AA people shared a little card with a scripture on it. Big stinkin' deal. Accept it, decline it, throw it away. Whatever. But rudeness has no place in the world, but sadly that's what all this "offended" business is: rudeness. We all think we have to have things our way or no way. On the flip side, there are plenty of rude Christians out there too. Doesn't make it right just because they claim Christ. Practice good manners, polite speech–even on the Internet!–and acceptance of one another despite differences. Then the world would be a better, happier place.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • fred padgett

      France tried to remain neutral during WWII and look at what happened to them. As a nation America needs to wake up and realize we cannot please everyone. If they don' like how we do business leave and find a more caring country. I am 69 and tired of trying to please everyone.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      Mom,

      How often do you pay someone to be a "guest" on their airplane?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  3. Freedom goes both ways

    To all those who feel that religion is being pushed on them by these cards, there is a simple solution. Don't read them! And while you're at it, you probably shouldn't handle money either, since it says "In god We Trust" on it. The same freedoms that allow you to chose not to embrace religion or select your religion, also covers those of us who do believe. If you want tolerance, then have some tolerance. Simple as that.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Observer

      Freedom,

      So you have no problems if the airline passed out cards with meals saying "God is Dead",right?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Non-Christian

      I see your point. But you don't seem to see anyone elses'. The reason that some may be offended by Christian readings in a public place is actually a lot more simple than you suggest. Perhaps there are people of other faiths on the plane, who do not share your belief in Christianity? Perhaps there ARE Atheists on the plane. Perhaps they all SHOULD bend to your will. But my big problem with Christianity in the US is no0t that people are Christian- it's that everyone is expected to be Christian, or assumed Christian, unless there are obvious clues that they aren't. American Christians tend to believe a lot of inaccurate things about their faith, first and foremost that this country was built upon Christianity. Not only was the country NOT founded on Christianity, but many of the Founding Fathers went out of their way to insure that Christianity was NOT the de facto religion of the US. Yet another HUGE fact left out of the history books. You're welcome to believe what you want, and so am I. I'll do you the favor of not shoving my beliefs down your throat, and in return, I expect the same.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Mom

      Observer, that's just silly. First of all, no real airline would do that because their business would be dead. Let's stick to the real world discussion, okay? But if you don't like something about an airline–be it the food, the baggage fees, the flight attendants–you simply don't fly on that airline again. You don't make a federal case about it.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  4. Danny

    Another attack on Christianity... I bet if they thought the plane was about to crash they would want the prayer cards or anything else they could in order to be more religious.....

    January 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      As many, many, many, many atheists have pointed out, this doesn't happen.

      I've been in life-threatening situations. I've had a gun pointed directly at my face. At no point have I ever called out to a god for help.

      January 26, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      Yea yea yea, just because a business decided to stop serving up religion it's an attack on Christianity. If Christianity had a leg to stand on then everyone would believe, but since it's a bunch of nonsense it falls flat to request for validity of its claims.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Non-Christian

      If the plane were going to crash, and i were on it, I might indeed start to pray. But it wouldn't be to Jesus.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Persecution Complex Detector

      Just more evidence that religion is a crutch for those who fear death.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • al

      To NON CHRISTIAN......No need for you to pray.....no one can hear it anyways.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • al

      To iamdeadlyserious
      One day you will call out....no one ever gets out of this life alive. Hope you are prepared!!!!!

      January 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  5. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    There is great joy and comfort
    With the living God
    Prayer based on the word of God
    Is a joy to participate in
    Prayer really changes thing

    January 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • HenryMiller

      Placebo effect?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  6. Manuel

    The people that don't believe in God spoke more. It is a shame that we Christians don't take the time to speak more about the good things that companies do. The atheists are imposing their ways. We, Christians, should be expressing our opinions more openly. . Those cards would be a wonderful thing when the plane has problems. There are no atheists in fox holes.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      http://www.militaryatheists.org/expaif.html

      There are lots of atheists in foxholes. If you'd prefer to take their place, by all means, grab a gun and sign up.

      January 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Morgan

      It is ignorant to repeat the trite lie that "there are no atheists in foxholes." Many atheists serve in our armed forces with pride. Their service should not be demeaned because you disagree with their world view.

      January 26, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Matt

      "Those cards would be a wonderful thing when the plane has problems."

      I just had a mental imagine of a plane filled with people going down, the young mother looks up at the flight attendant and says "where are the life jackets for my children?" The flight attendant looks back and says "Oh, budget cuts... But you got the prayer cards, right?"

      If I thought a prayer card was being given to me on the off chance I would die in the giant metal coffin they call a plane, I'd run off that plane and find the nearest atheist carrier without a doubt.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • David S

      Manuel,

      You do not know what you are talking about. I know several atheists who under fire NEVER felt a need or desire to change thier views and my father who served in Europe during WWII said he had two buddies who remained true to their atheism under fire. While other asked for a deitiy's help, they always said something along the line of "I hope our artillery gets us out of here" or "FU you damn krauts" or things along that line.. There have been, currently are and will always be atheists in foxholes and they will serve honorably too.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  7. pat

    i'm sure there were many people who appreciated the cards but said nothing. As the saying goes, the squeaky wheel . . .

    January 26, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • DrBob

      I am one of the many people who didn't appreciate the cards, but said nothing.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  8. wimanf

    It's amazing how foolish people feel about God. If only they knew.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      It's amazing how foolish people feel about Allah/Quetzlcoatl/Odin/Zeus/Buddha/Kim Jong Il. If only they knew...

      January 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  9. us1776

    Just what I DON'T want to receive from my airline !!

    Annual report, on-time record, safety record, those would be great.

    But a prayer card – NO THANKS !!

    .

    January 26, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • al

      And I bet you don't like reading the Word!!

      January 26, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • us1776

      Right. Stopped reading fairy tales when I was 5.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • al

      For us1776.......Your fairy tale will have a very horrible ending my friend. Wake up before it is too late!!!

      January 26, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  10. woooooooooooooooooo

    If prayer worked, there would never be plane crashes.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • jamest297

      Amen woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

      January 26, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • booboo

      spoken like someone who has no idea what prayer is.. dont you feel foolish? sound like a kindergartner making fun of particle physicists because they sound like theyre talking gibberish.. think about it..

      January 26, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • HenryMiller

      booboo, I do understand particle physics, and religion still sounds like gibberish to me.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • al

      If the ones praying were believers you would see prayer answered.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Persecution Complex Detector

      "If the ones praying were believers you would see prayer answered."

      Then why has every study on the issue convincingly shown the opposite?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Non-Christian

      @ BooBoo: Prayer to God in catastrophic situations will do nothing, except kill some time while the catastrophic situation unfolds. There is an old Christian saying: "God answers all prayers... Sometimes the answer is no." Loosely translated to todays vernacular, it means "Pray all you want, it's going to end how it's going to end." And that's That.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Non-Christian

      God doesn't take requests. Not from poor shlubs like me, who just want to catch a break, not from multi-millionaire NFL stars, who pray for their team to come out victorious. Let's break this down: I'm a Saints fan. I watched the Saints get pounded by the 49ers a couple weeks ago, dashing their hopes of another Super Bowl victory. The 49ers played a GREAT game, even if they were a little dirty and nasty. And even if their fans were the ugliest, nastiest bunch I have seen in a while. But, to the point- The Saints made a number of poor decisions, and the 49er defense was overwhelming in that game. Here's my question: Do you think the 49ers prayed harder than the Saints? Do you think God had a hand in the outcome of that game? Or was it just down to who played better?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  11. Tex

    Very, very disappointed in Alaska Airlines. Of course there were more negative comments (although a small percentage considering the number of people who flew and actually received a card). People make the most noise when they're angry about something. (Just read the CNN comments for proof.) I'm sure 10's of thousands of people appreciated the cards but didn't take the time to write you about it. AA should at least make the cards available in some other non-threatening (not!) way.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • al

      I agree TEX. The problem in America is that we continue to give in just a little more everytime to the "things of this world". Well one day this all will end and we will spend an eternity in one of two places. If I am wrong then I won't know it. If Christ is not our savior then we will know it......but it will be too late. I'm not taking that eternal chance.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Pete

      But Tex, whether you like the card or now, should an airling really be involved in religion? Shouldn't that be something you get from your church?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • al

      For PETE.... Your church is where you gather. The work environment is where you share....if you believe????

      January 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  12. jamest297

    Geesh – I had no idea such bigoted practices have been carried on in such a public way by such a visible company. Can't remember ever flying Alaska Air, but I can guarantee, now that I have a glimpse into their company culture, that I wil never do so. What a crock.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Shells

      It's a little card with a few words on it, Dude! Get over yourself!

      January 26, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • woooooooooooooooooo

      Neutrality is not an endorsement of a disbelief in gods. You are not being persecuted you silly Christians.

      January 26, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Mom

      Yes, I can see how bigoted it is to hand out a card with a beautiful picture and a few simple words about love.

      January 26, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • gtalum

      Yeah, it is pretty bigoted to consider a biblical quote to be inappropriate.

      People have the right to refuse the hand-out...a simple, "no thank you" goes a long way. I mean, I think it's odd, but let them do it for the sake of tradition. Seriously, to Christians, it's a meaningful verse on a card. To anybody else, just view it as an inspirational quote of sorts... is it really that big of a deal?

      January 26, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • al

      Not sure wher you stand on it. I pray you have a problem that they are ending the practice.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  13. Bogalusa

    Get into some bad turbulence...you may want that card.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      I wasn't aware that waving a piece of paper could affect weather patterns.

      January 26, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Fear Factor

      Exactly, because religion is a crutch for those who can't handle fear or the threat of death.

      January 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • booboo

      fear.. but you dont have any problems using a crutch to support yourself if you have a broken leg right? but you think its corny to use a crutch for a broken soul? that makes you a... wait for it.. hypocrite.. yay

      January 26, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      Booboo, metaphors are like scotch. They shouldn't be mixed.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Eve

      If Christians *really* believe in a magical afterlife in Paradise, why are they so afraid to die?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Fear Factor

      @Boo,

      How does using an actual crutch make me calling those who would use religion as a means to deal with fear a hypocrite?

      Epic. Logic. Fail.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  14. Scott

    To those defending this, would you feel the same way if the airline distributed cards that said "Hail Satan dark lord and master" or "Enjoy His noodly appendage"?

    January 26, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • booboo

      not at all.. if they had been doing that from the beginning, i just wouldnt fly them. i would have no problem whatsoever with that card... and i would have just as much problem if they suddenly stopped passing out the satan cards as well...

      January 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • gtalum

      It's a quote... to Christians, it's sacred scripture. To anybody else, just view it as a quote. No different than a Ghandi quote or any other inspirational saying (not quite the same thing as your ignorant suggestion, but I get your point). Maybe if they mixed in some other inspirational quotes in there, it wouldn't offend so many who are against religion.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  15. joe

    Thank God. I don't need your whack beliefs rammed down my throat all moments of the day.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • booboo

      you should try hanging out with athiests.. they use a ramrod to force it down your throat. and instead of donating money to the homeless or starving, they rent out planes and banners to fly their religious message in the sky..

      January 26, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts or goblins

      booboo, who do you think pays for pro-christianity billboards – jews, muslims, pagans???

      January 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • David S

      Booboo,

      I give a lot of money to help the homeless and feed the starving as well as to Doctors Without Borders (a secular organization) and to the two secualr soup kitchens in my area (which I also volunteer at.) The overwhelming majority (over 90%) of the over one hundred atheists I know give a lot to philanthropic causes and most donate thier time, they just don't wave thier faith around while they do it. The simply do it becuase it is what civilized human beings do.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Leaf on the Wind

      Lighten up, Joe. Prayer cards on your meal tray is hardly "jamming down your throat." No one was forcing you to read it, were they?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Eve

      "booboo", it amazes me how Christians feel so victimized and marginalized, seeing as how nearly 75% of Americans identify as Christian, and only .7% identify as Atheist. In this scenario, whom do you think has a bigger chance of experiencing prejudice for being open about their beliefs?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts or goblins

      I prefer to give to Doctors Without Borders via richarddawkins.net.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Joe

      To Leaf on the Wind, how would you feel if Koran scripture was on your money, on your plane literature, in your hotel, non-stop on TV (presidential speeches etc.)?

      January 26, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  16. woooooooooooooooooo

    Complaining about complaining...delicious.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  17. Chuck

    This practice doesn't cost the airline money? They dispensed with meal service in coach, but somehow still had money to print these cards? Or were they including a hidden "psalm card fee" in the price of the flight?

    January 26, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • jamest297

      There is no avoiding it. If the passed out the cards, it cost something and the cost had to be covered by collecting revenue from the passengers.

      January 26, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  18. Yougottabekidding

    To all those who think it isn't harrassment: Would your opinion change if the cards were verses from the Koran? Verses that just might refer to you as an infidel.

    But we are used to the double-standard.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • HenryMiller

      What Christianity and Islam have in common is that they're equally silly and almost equally intolerant of each other. And keep in mind that the definition of "infidel" is "a person who does not acknowledge your god" and is thus equally applicable in all religions.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  19. Morgan

    I would handle this the same way that I do with customers who hand me such cards: smile and hand it back. There's no need to validate their rudeness with a fuss – just smile and go about your life.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  20. Mr Troll

    you mean i have to use toilet paper to wipe my butt and not those prayer cards?

    January 26, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Geronimo

      wow! I will endorse you at the GOP sir HAHAHAHAHA. Good one man!

      January 26, 2012 at 4:56 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.