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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. Matt

    I have no faith in the semiticentric religions, but I do eat at Chick-Fil-A because it's probably the best fast food out there. If the airline provided an experience worth tolerating the creepy Bible babbling, I'd use it regardless of business card proselytizing. It's not like they made everyone pray before they took off or opened the door upon landing. You humor you boss, your mother, your wife, the judge and just about everyone else you think is either nuts or a jerk, how is one business card inked with drivel any more of a burden?

    January 26, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  2. SKYLAR

    A confused mind will always say "NO"..R C WILLEY is also closed on Sundays.. Too bad money and greed supercede God.. At least there will be a day of reckoning whether you are religious or not—everyone lives until they die!!

    January 26, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  3. Canadian

    about time

    January 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Holden Caufield

      F you it is our airline

      January 26, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Alaska Airlines operates in Canada too, so fuck you!

      January 26, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  4. Greg

    I've never understood how anyone can be offended by this sort of thing. Just because you get a card with your food does not mean you have to practice the religion with which it is associated. You are free to ignore it. I wonder if the people who are offended do so because they do not want to see evidence that other people have religious beliefs different from their own?

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

      Can you please tell me what possible purpose the card serves for a non-Christian except as a tool of conversion?

      Cards, pamphlets, tracts, etc. are meant to be used to convert people who don't believe while reinforcing the convictions of those who do. Since you've never been in an analogous position, it's impossible to explain to you how awkward and frustrating it is to have a complete stranger try to tell you how empty and hopeless your life is.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Roo

      Actually, it was the opposite. Receiving the prayer cards made me feel like there was no acknowledgement that passengers might have different beliefs. I would have been fine with the practice had there been pleasantries from a variety of religions.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Amanda 14

      I think that you are probably right. And remember there are no atheists in fox holes or crashing planes.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Steve the Goat

      So by that same logic, religious people should have no problem if instead of prayer cards, the airline handed out pictures of women mating with camels right? I mean, it's not forcing anything down your throat right?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  5. Timing

    It takes them 4-5 months to implement a simple decision not to hand out cards? Talks to the efficiency of airlines.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  6. Edward Watson

    If a flight attendant gave me a prayer card I would throw it in his or her face!

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

      Why? Do you have an anger control problem?

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

      So much anger. You need to get your heart right with God.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Greg

      Alternatively, you could just politely hand the card back and say 'Thank you, but no thank you'. In any case, keep in mind the flight attendant is just doing what their boss tells them to do – they don't make any policy.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  7. Mercyme

    @booboo
    Tell it! You are spot on!!!!!

    January 26, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  8. VanHagar

    I used to fly Alaska on a regular basis–as a Christian, I obviously appreciated the cards (BTW, I don't recall anything other than Old Testament verses–almost always from Psalms, so it isn't Christian exclusive) but I understand the decision all the same. I tell you what Alaska, you can keep the cards, just drop the baggage fee–now that's criminal.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  9. Chris C.

    Why are so many of you commenters so worked up about atheists?? There's not one mention of anti-Christian groups or atheists in the article. I agree with woooooooo who said "You are not being persecuted you silly Christians" a few comments ago.

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

      However, judging by the comments many atheists sound like they have been tormented and persecuted by these cards. Double standard? Don't read the cards if they offend you. Not rocket science here folks.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Morgan

      steel, no one is claiming to be "tormented" or "persecuted" by these cards. I think you're seeing an overreaction because you want to see one. For myself, I would just hand it back – and then never fly Alaska again.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • steelerguin

      Morgan...I can't argue with that approach at all. Level headed and standing for what you believe in.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • booboo

      because the majority of the comments filled with rage against religion are athiests. whats the question?

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

      One thing that many people on these boards tend to forget is that there are just as many nutjob atheists out there as there are nutjob fundy evangelicals.

      Extremism comes in all shapes and forms. I am agnostic, but I do not relate to the rabid "God is dead" atheists. I also can't stand the "Repent or burn" rabid fundies.

      I wish people would stop assuming that extremism is the only way to go. Can't we we each believe as we wish and respect the beliefs of others? Sheesh.

      January 27, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  10. Mark

    I wonder how the devout Christians would feel if they handed out a card with the Nobel Truths of Buddhism on it?

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

      I wouldn't be offended.

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

      if they had been doing it from the beginning, i wouldnt have a problem. in fact it would be pretty interesting

      January 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Amanda 14

      we'd throw it in the trash. Done deal.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Me

      I wouldn't be offended either

      January 26, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • vittoria

      It wouldn't bother me in the sligthtest. As long a it's a positve uplifting message I don't care which religious (or non) group/person it came from. I'm not that insecure that I think that the world should revolve around me.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Joe

      If they have any education, they'd likely appreciate them, since the real Buddha taught philosphy and not religion.

      The Buddhist religion is a strange perversion of Buddha's philosophical teachings, since he himself asked that he not be deified.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • You Sir, Are A Tard

      well it looks like mark pretty much got owned there. LMAO.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Greg

      Personally, I would look at the card and read it out of curiosity, then put it in my bag. Maybe in the long run I'd keep it as a memento of the trip – or maybe it would get lost in clutter somewhere. But would I be offended? Why? Because someone has religious beliefs that I do not, and wanted to share a bit of there's with me? How could that possibly be offensive? Its ridiculous to feel threatened by something so innocuous. And, if someone is so overly sensitive that this is unacceptable to them, then they can always say 'no thankyou' and give the card back.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  11. WVLady63

    Of course they did! WHO IN THE WORLD WOULD WANT ANYTHING TO DO WITH GOD WHEN YOU CAN HAVE THE DEVIL ON YOUR FLIGHT!!!! I was planning a trip to Alaska and would have flown on Alaska Airlines, GUESS WHAT? I WILL NEVER SET FOOT ON THEIR PLANES OR THEIR SOIL! COME ON AMERICA, LETS BOYCOTT ALASKA AND ALASKAN AIRLINES!!!

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

      The doctor said to keep taking your meds for a reason, honey.

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

      Their pointless cards and your petty little god didn't do much for flight 261, did they?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • sane

      First, are you sure Alaska Airlines has anything to do with the State of Alaska? Why punish folks in Alaska, many Christians, because of what one corporation did? Second, do the other airlines provide prayer cards? Do you want to boycott them? Third, as an Athiest, I would never want a corporation to impose my views on you. Please do a little thinking.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Dave in Portland

      I am sincerely hoping that this was just a troll post, but if on the off-chance I am wrong, I would recommend that you never breed. Thanks.

      January 27, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  12. Matt

    Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • what?

      Everything that has breath already has the free will to praise the lord, however it might be tough to get your cat to go along with it.

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

      zomg i lold #=D

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

      Matt,

      Amen.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
  13. Jeepers

    It would make me pretty nervous if a flight attendant handed me a "prayer card."

    Why are you giving me this?!?!? What does this mean?!?!?

    January 26, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  14. PPJr

    They made baby Jesus cry.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  15. be4you

    ...and some people thought that athiesm and agnostisism were not a growing phenominum. They are, and will continue to grow.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Chris C.

      So what??

      January 26, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • be4you

      Sooooo, some people thought that athiesm and agnostisism were not a growing phenominum. They are, and will continue to grow. That's what.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • zomg

      cool story bro.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  16. Alcat

    If I got one of these I would think the plane was about to crash! Clearly they have been out of touch for many years and I'm glad they are turning a new leaf...as for the rest of Alaska?

    January 26, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  17. sendmorejunk

    Instead of giving all these excuses – just give the real reason: It is going to save us lots of money!

    January 26, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  18. Michigan

    You,Sir... Spot on! Couldn't agree more!

    January 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  19. Ron

    Its about time. Grown adults believing in those big business fairy tales, referred to as religion, really need to get head checked.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • fedz77

      Yeah because prayer cards are so offensive (sarcasm)

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

      Well that wouldn't count you. Given there's nothing adult about what you just posted.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  20. Bails

    What a shame. Another business caving in to the few who rant about the injustice of any sort of religion being passed their way. Well....thank goodness Chick Fil A still closes on Sunday. And Hobby Lobby. Hope they don't cave.

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

      Your lack of consideration for others is pitiful. Atheists aren't plugging their views along with meals. Give thought sometime to the forgotten Golden Rule in the ignored Bible.

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

      Yeah, and let's hope that Chick-Fil-A keeps hating gay people too. Businesses and people shouldn't have to get rid of outmoded and antiquated belief systems just because they're outmoded and antiquated.

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

      Bails,

      So do you honor Sundays like Chick-fil-A and not attend any other businesses or sporting events then?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • booboo

      observer. of course they are. athiests are flying banners, plastering bus sides, renting ad spaces.. forcing their religion down everyones throats.. what are you talking about?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Michael

      Easy to say that when you agree with the statements on the card. If those same cards had Islamic verses on them I'd like to see your reaction.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Commonsense

      Where do you get the idea that anyone protested the cards? It's not mentioned in the article. Just a sec, let me check THE INTERNET!!! Nope, nothing there either. You must be pulling this out of your caboose.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:24 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.