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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. FaithfulInSeattle

    Those cards used to annoy me so much. I mean why do Christians feel that it's ok to force their faith down my throat? I never got around to sending a letter so I'm glad they finally woke up. They have plenty of paying clients that aren't Christians.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Reasonably

      "I mean why do Christians feel that it's ok to force their faith down my throat?" They were only given alongside the meal – not meant to be eaten. Now we know why you're so grumpy about this!

      January 26, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • booboo

      you should hang out with athiests some time. they love ramming their religion down peoples throats.. and wasting lots of contributions to their religion to spread the message. on buses, and billboards, and banners and renting planes. its a very forward religion bent on forcing it down peoples throats.. athiests are pretty on par with the rest..

      January 26, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • FaithfulInSeattle

      I think anyone, Christians, Atheists etc. that insult others faiths are generally out of line. I also think aggressive proselytizing is out of line, rude and condescending.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Reasonably, thanks for your post. I had a good laugh.

      Amen.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
  2. Kay

    I will never understand why those who are offended by religion wish to be rid of any sign of it in public life. There are many things that offend my beliefs and sensibilities in society, but I don't go around trying to control these things. Things I don't like, I avoid. Simple.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Steve the Goat

      Cows, pancakes, and peanuts. I like donkeys.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Dave in Portland

      Kay – I understand what you are saying and you are right to an extent.

      As an agnostic, I do not expect every reference to religion to be wiped off the face of the earth. I respect every faith and I respect the belief systems of religions.

      What I cannot stand, and I am not saying Alaska Airlines was doing this, is when people of faith feel the need to preach to me or tell me how I am damned to an eternity of suffering. Unfortunately, this has happened often, which leaves me a bit bitter and resentful toward said people of faith.

      I acknowledge that not all people of faith are like that, but as so often happens, one (or twenty) bad experience can really affect a person's views toward said faith.

      January 27, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  3. Jo

    If you don't like something on tv change the channel. Jehovah witnesses put flyers on my car or hand me something in the street. It's no big deal, I throw it away. A prayer card on an airline is no different, but if I had been on flight 93 that fateful day, I know Iwould've been clutching it tightly all the way....

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

      ....and I'm sure that would have saved you.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Steve the Goat

      The proper response to people putting stuff on your car, door, or food tray is to pound their face until they are unconscious.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Reminders about God make me smile because He loves us.

      Amen.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  4. saju

    I would be happy to get such a card, even though i am not christian, it will remind me of the god i believe in. I see lot of intolerance here. I was educated in a christian school and used to pray to Jesus, neither me or my parents had any issues with that, and i do not think it affected my Hindu beliefs. Also i have been to mosques and have a lot of Muslim friends. what i hate is when religious leaders (so called) speak and act like politicians.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Logic

      Would you be happy to receive a card with your meal on an airplane that tell you to thank Allah? That Allah loves you? How about a card with Satanic inculcations? Hard not to see the world through Christian-colored glasses, huh? It was unnecessary...and a waste of paper.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  5. More verses to share

    Besides Isaiah 14:12 (obviously), you might consider sharing Luke 10:18 with your neighbors:

    He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  6. WrshipWarior

    >>>“At the same time, we've heard from many of you who believe religion is inappropriate on an airplane..."

    But I can only imagine every one of these people crying out "OH GOD!" or "HELP US JESUS!" as their plane abruptly loses it's bearings and begins a drastic descent toward the ground.

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

      You're right. You can only imagine it.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Dennis

      That's just ignorant.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Reasonably

      I'd just quote from Airplane: Looks like chose the wrong day to stop sniffing glue!

      January 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      May all the pilots be as cool and level headed as Captain "Sully" Sullenberger.

      Amen.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  7. Dennis

    I didn't know Alaska Airlines was in the business of evangelism, if I had, I would never of flown them and now I won't.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Alfred E Neuman

      Walk then, more user friendly to the environment

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

      gee Dennis- that is so tolerant and loving of you. wow ,you must be fun at parties!!!

      January 26, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Dennis, they won't miss you as long as you keep hiding out in that bedroom your parents provide for you.

      Amen.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
  8. lgny

    "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."

    Shouldn't Christians feel insulted that businesses try to distort their religion into a money-making scheme?

    January 26, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Lee

      Why? Christian evangelists have been doing that for years.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Morgan

      They willingly give their money to recruit more people who will also give their money to recruit more people to ... So no. I don't think they're fussed about it.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • booboo

      its just the same scheme athiests use to recruit people into their religion and use it for advertising campaigns to force their religion down peoples throats.. lots of religious groups do it

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

      Booboo, good user name. "its just the same scheme athiests use to recruit people into their religion " Snag a dictionary and look up the word "atheist." I'm an atheist. I have no religion. I do not believe in the "imaginary friend for grown ups." What are you, 12?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • booboo

      leaf.. perhaps you shoudl understand there are more than one definition for anything. the behaviors and group characteristics of athiests are INDEED defined as religious. oh NO!! god forbid someone is suggesting you actually DONT know everything in the universe.. and by the way, the marketing schemes of the athiests are the most aggressive i have seen in years. wasting money to rent a plane and fly a banner to say "theres no go".. silliest thing ive seen in years. at least christians actually think theres something behine their reasoning. athiests waste money for nothing. to prove nothing. to say nothing.. religious zealots.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • My hair color is bald

      After not attending my non-existent atheist church, I'm going to go working on my hobby of not collecting stamps and then watch my favorite sport – not football.

      @booboo, Christians don't ever pay for billboards or banners? Right. Does it get hard to breath when your head is buried in the sand?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Leaf on the Wind

      Booboo, I have no problem at all with you believing whatever you want, even if it seems silly to me. I only object when the Christian Right in this country attempts to enact laws based on their religious beliefs, laws that they expect me to obey. That's why I'm grateful to be living in a secular nation. The point of this article is that a company doing business with the public should be aware of the diversity that exists within that public, and not cater to any one group.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  9. Observer

    So do Christians have any problem if Alaska Airlines passed out cards with meals saying "God is Dead" to give an opposing view?

    January 26, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • steelerguin

      I'd laugh.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • just sayin

      You wouldn't want them to lie or would you?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • booboo

      as long as they had been doing it since the start. matter of fact, id be upst if they stopped.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  10. You Sir, Are A Tard

    Interesting......the atheists seem to be the least tolerent (and most hateful) judging by these comments. Ofcourse they claim that it's all Christianity's fault however.

    Haha oh the hypocrisy.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      Ridiculous beliefs deserve ridicule.

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

      lacking. so, of all the things in the universe, of which we only know about 2 percent, you think you know everything definitvely.. enough so that you can proclaim without a doubt theres no god.. now, doesnt that actually sound ridiculous? seriously...

      January 26, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Steve the Goat

      It's called retribution. You space ghost believing mental patients won't shut your pie holes about jesus and other nonsense, so those capable of critical thinking will beat you over the head with logic.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Meghan

      By all means – bring your bible and read it on the plane if you want scripture during your flight. They make lovely travel sized versions. Are Christians so insecure that they need constant external confirmation of their faith? Are they so forgetful that they need a reminder every few hours?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  11. J.W

    I think they could keep the cards on had so that you could request a card if you wanted one.

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

      I agree. They should keep a little stack for passenger requests.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  12. ItSOnLyME

    You can't possibly be serious!!??!! They've been doing this for 30 years? Good thing I never flew with them. The first time would have been the last. We get browbeaten with "Christianity" (Jesus cultism) enough without having to pay money for it.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • You Sir, Are A Tard

      You get that offended by a piece of paper that has a peaceful Bible verse? Man I feel bad for you, must be one angry individual. If you drive by a church do you start swearing because those darn Christians are trying to force their religion once again? Watch out for your money too, I hear it says In God We Trust.....OMGGGGGGGG the atrocitiesssssssssss

      January 26, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      Don't you love it that the corporate machine of various churches don't pay taxes. Guess who's paying for those tax breaks. Tax the churches, save the world.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Leaf on the Wind

      Browbeaten? Is someone forcing you to go to church? To pray to Jesus? No one was forced to read those prayer cards, were they? I agree with Alaska Air's decision to stop issuing them, it was a silly idea to begin with, but sheesh! You'd think by some of these comments that no one knows what a trash can is for.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  13. stevie68a

    The idea of a benevolent god is nonsense. There would be no such thing as a children's hospital. Your "lord" is imaginary. It is
    just stuff they brainwashed you with. We are in a New Age, and it's becoming more and more apparent that religion just isn't true.
    Time to grow up.

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

      wow!! so thousands of years and millions of people all searching for that answer, and here you are with the truth, on an internet blog. how of all these people have you discovered the eternal burning question of god.. amazing.. you are truly wise.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      guess we have to go back in time and write stupid things on some paper and hope people buy it.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  14. George

    Are atheists so threatened by God that they want to extinguish all religious expression? I think they are. I think that they know that if there is a God, they will be called to judgment. They don't want to take responsibility for their sinful lives.

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

      Not remotely. We just don't like having it rammed down our throats at every turn. What you believe is completely up to you. I just don't want any part of it, thanks.

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

      Any problems if they had handed out "God is Dead" on cards?

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

      so, to fight the religious people ramming it down your throats, you have chosen to take your message of "no god" and ram it down peoples throats.. interesting

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

      booboo,

      Wrong. False "logic". Cards with "God is Dead" would be trying to ram it down people's throats. Atheists want NO MESSAGES for either side.

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

      @booboo
      Handing out "I don't believe in silly god" cards would be ramming it down your throats. Not making claims about religious beliefs at all is the only way to be respectful of everyone. Your religion has poisoned your mind. You actually think you're being persecuted because your unwarranted beliefs can't be forced on everyone. That is truly sad.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Morgan

      Goodness no, I'm not threatened by the idea of a deity. I just think it's all silly nonsense, and that the human race could progress a little better if we let go of it and grew up.

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

      uh oh, uh oh.. athiests in arms!! Theres nothing you guys can say to deny the fact that wasting money on airplanes to fly banners, renting out billboards proclaiming "theres no god" etc.. theres NO WAY you can deny that NOT ramming it down peoples throats. just admit YOU arent like that, and that you are embarrased by that behavior because it IS extremely religious, and move on.. simple. why be so hard headed.. ashamed of your clans behavior? its okay.. its okay...

      January 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  15. Corey C

    I think you are all forgetting: the people who live in most of Alaska have no choice but to fly with Alaska Air. It's all we have! I certainly don't think it's fair to promote one religion over another, especially when they were getting twice as many complaints as compliments. Yes, they are not government-operated, so they can do what they want – and what they want is to please the majority of their customers. They have every right to do this.

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

      Let's take religion out of this for a moment. I bet its all about the money. Why not include "inspirational quotes" but not from the bible. Here's mine: To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury; and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable; and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasion, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony. William Ellery Channing

      January 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  16. steelerguin

    I suggest we all keep our opinions and beliefs to ourselves so as not offend anyone, anytime, anywhere, any way, or any how. In fact, I don't want to talk to anyone anymore for fear of offending them. What if I order spaghetti and the waitress likes pot roast. Have I offended her? What if I tell someone to have a great day as a greeting and they enjoy being miserable? Offended!! Please don't reply to this post because I will probably be offended. Gee...I hope that doesn't offend you.

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

      Typical American response. No nuance, no shades of grey. No thought or reason. Just pure black or pure white. Nobody said you have to keep anything to yourself. There is a time and a place for the expression of "religion" – and when I'm paying an airline to get me from A to B, I don't want to hear their religious beliefs. I'm not paying them for that. I'm paying them for air transportation.

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

      ItsONlyMe...Tear up the card then. It doesn't speak to you. If that's too much trouble, shove it under your tray. Better yet don't frequent any business remotely connected with Christianity. That's your right as an American. I wouldn't frequent a business openly hostile to my beliefs. I don't think you need to do that either.

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

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

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

      Exactly. Persecution complexes are simply an expression of the fragility of one's beliefs in the first place.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  18. Eskimo480

    As a 10 year employee of Alaska, I've long since believed these cards were mostly inappropriate. Frankly I'm surprised they survived this long.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  19. gingerpeach

    Well I think it was a very nice thing to do and I for one will miss the little cards.

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

      Bring your bible with you then. I don't want to pay for a silly card that serves no purpose.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • booboo

      dork. passengers didnt have to pay for the cards...

      January 26, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • gingerpeach

      I do take my bible with me and read it on the plane as I look out the window, And see the whole world that Our Lord has made for us. You have the right to not want to believe in our Lord but I also have the right to BELIEVE in what I beleive is my Lord and Savior.

      January 26, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
  20. Roo

    Back in 2004, when I received one of their prayer cards in coach, I felt it was inappropriate. I didn't file a complaint, I just chose to bring my business elsewhere. You can believe whatever you want, just don't assume that everyone shares your views. And by the way, it wasn't something you could refuse; it was under your food when they handed you the box.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:59 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.