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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. Mark

    Ok,everyone lets cheer for the easter bunny, the tooth fairy, snow white, Santa Claus & god & the devil'

    I am soo happy I am an Atheist!

    January 26, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Possum

      Hey, Santa is real. I'll fight ya on that. ;)

      January 26, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • dave836

      Santa Claus was based off of Saint Nicholas who was real.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Why cheer? You don't really think everything you put up their is interchangable do you? That would be so dumb if you did.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  2. Chris

    Woohoo! Godlessness in America! We're becoming more and more like Stalin always hoped we'd be!

    January 26, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • There. Are. No. Gods!

      You talk with Stalin often then? Probably the same way you talk to your made up deity. . .dirty.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Possum

      Oh. pulease. America is diversifying is all. Different beliefs – or non-beliefs – are allowed under our Freedoms. It's all good but all individuals need to leave others alone in their personal beliefs and harm no other person in pursuit of their own. Stalin could never have controlled or envisioned so many people , with as many beliefs, as America gives promise to. Stalin's "prophecy" failed.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  3. There. Are. No. Gods!

    “This difficult decision was not made lightly,” Yeah right. Just like in religion, money was the motivating factor. This airline is a business, much like religion. Why lie about it? There. Are. No. Gods!

    January 26, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • 3N1Amen

      Sad to say, you along with many others, will find out one day while burning in Hell that there really is GOD.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • There. Are. No. Gods!

      Wanna bet?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • dave836

      Ya. I'm sure people aren't using an airline just because of a small paper card with a nice picture and some writing on it....

      January 26, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Chris

      You are 100% certain that God isn't there? Would you be willing to bet the lives of every human being on the planet that there isn't even the tiniest chance? You seem to know everything about everything. Congratulations.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  4. Vulpes

    No one was "forced" ... go back to your Faux News fantasy land ...

    January 26, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  5. Veritas

    I frequently fly airlines from Muslim nations and have no problem with the names of Allah being written on their in flight materials. It's their airline. If it bothered me I'd just fly a different airline. What ever happened to multiculturalism and enjoying our differences? Or maybe Liberals only intend that for THEIR values?

    January 26, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • There. Are. No. Gods!

      I love that your name in Roman MYTHOLOGY means "truth". That is an oxymoron, much like you. . . Just take away the "oxy" part and there you go! There. Are. No. Gods!

      January 26, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Veritas

      And I hope I would have the courage to stand up and defend your right to hold your belief...just like you would for me, or Alaska Airlines...oh, wait...you wouldn't. So who is the intolerant person?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • There. Are. No. Gods!

      Way to get off topic and assume there fable faith.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Stephanie

      You are missing one key factor: the Muslim airlines belong to Muslim countries. The USA accepts the practice of all religions, and is not a theocracy. Therefore, it is your right as well as mine to practice Christianity freely and bring our own Bible's on the plane. Just because Alaskan Airlines is respecting all religions does not mean it believes in all religions. They are taking no "right" away from anyone. When will you conservatives understand that shoving Christianity down peoples throats, or rather on their lunch trays, is not the right way to go about bringing people to God. Alaskan Airlines is not denying its faith, it is just respecting the values of this country and all who inhabit it.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  6. Who needs pilots when you have Jesus?

    In response to this outrageous action by Alaskan Airlines, and in response to the demands of Chirstian travelers, we are debuting a new airline.

    Welcome aboard Air Jesus!

    Starting today, you can now fly without the terrible persecution of having to share a flight with Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, Wiccans, and all those other hell-bound dry bones losers destined for the lake of fire. Yes,

    Our pilots do not control the plane – they push up the throttles, then they let go and let God. We will have great activities on board, such as faith-healing your crash injuries, praying that you survive, and chorus after chorus of Kumbaya. We show Ben Hur on every flight.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Observer

      Could I skip "Ben Hur" and just watch "Airplane" before we crash?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • horseyone62

      Amen!!

      January 26, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • There. Are. No. Gods!

      Lol. Enjoy your flight, tell me how that one works out for yah!

      January 26, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts or goblins

      Why bother with pilots at all? Big chance to remove costs and potential human error. I'm sure that once you demonstrate that prayer works reliably, the FAA will grant you an operating certificate allowing your god or jesus to take the controls (while remaining invisible of course), with the passengers engaging on a group prayer to keep the "pilot" focused.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  7. catholic engineer

    I don't think public religious displays are necessary. A person of faith does not require them, and others will not change their minds. History has shown that suppression of religion is futile anyway. Religion survived in Stalin's gulags as Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitzyn demononstrated. People like Edith Stein and Maxamillian Kolbe kept it alive in Hitler's camps. The impact on religion by Alaska Airlines and run-of-the-mill atheists will hardly be noticed.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  8. hellohello

    I really don't understand how this offends people. We are such babies nowadays. You dont need to read the card. Im an athiest and if I saw this I might read it, and laugh, and prolly not think of it again. I couldnt imagine actually making a formal complaint. I mean, I could see it if the cards read "believe in Jesus or you will burn in hell," but seriously Im sure they were just nice messages. Get over it.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      @ hellohello I believe that most convinced atheists are like you. They know their beliefs, are secure in them, and are not threatened by such things as prayer cards or simple crosses. Yours is a reasonable approach. And athiests, as I recall, claim reason as their strong suit.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • There. Are. No. Gods!

      You are missing the truth. The cards were discontinued to cut costs. Why are you so naive as to believe otherwise?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • There. Are. No. You!

      You are just a collection of cnn techs taking turns writing stuff out.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  9. Free will and free enterprise

    To sum up my earlier post: if a company's practices offend you regardless of the product quality, don't give them your money; if you like their product and support their practices, support them. The company doesn't care about your views on religion until it affects their bottom line (either positively or negatively). Just like they don't care about your views on baggage fees until it affects their bottom line.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  10. Nadia Warren

    Many people like to be offended and I find it absolutely tragic that these have managed to rob the rest of us of something that is uplifting and encouraging. What in the world does it matter to those who are "offended"? Don't read it, simple as that; but the rest of us aren't robbed of something wonderful. I would encourate Alaska Airlines to reinstate. In regards to the "Sentient Reader"'s comment above, the airline isn't using prayers to deliver you to your destinaton, they do use their capable flight crews. Besides, I wonder how many of those who are offended would find themselves uttering "OH GOD!" should something horrific happen while in flight! You are sad and empty people who take great pleasure in robbing the rest of us.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Observer

      Any problem if they pass out "God is Dead" cards with the meals?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Marie Waits

      Well said, Nadia and I applaud your speaking out.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Snow

      Wow.. you sure are getting robbed blind here.. I mean, they are removing a piece of paper with means that has fantasy statements written on it.. how will the world and life ever be the same.. you are right.. they sure are ROBBING you of the most important thing in your life..

      January 26, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Jennifer

      Get over yourself. I was on a very scary flight to New Orleans once– thought it was the end. I did not utter "OH God." Why? I don't believe in God. My views don't change when things get scary. If you find peace in religion, bring a bible with you when you travel. I don't fly to have religion shoved down my throat, and even if I were religious, whose to say which religion? Airlines who want to survive in business are right to stay out of it. They are selling air travel, not Sunday service.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      Alaska Airlines, to applause from some atheists, can pull all the prayer cards they want. But one fact remains: "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching the evil and the good" Proverbs 15:3

      January 26, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • LOL!

      "Besides, I wonder how many of those who are offended would find themselves uttering "OH GOD!" should something horrific happen while in flight! You are sad and empty people who take great pleasure in robbing the rest of us."

      Why do christians keep trying to say that those that don't believe as they do are empty sad people. That is a total lie and lying is a sin for you people! We are not sad, we are not empty, we have loving relationships, families, etc. No, I wouldn't say OMG because I have been in a horrific accident and I was fine with dying that day because my life is complete, it also made so my recovery was a piece of cake. LOL!

      January 26, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  11. HeavenSent

    Next, the whiny non-believers will insist that fortune cookies be abolished.

    Waaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

    Amen.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Edwin

      If I understand correctly, it was not the non-believers but the airline itself that made this decision.

      I personally would have been offended by the cards. It might actually have made me choose a different carrier. Does it make me whiny to feel that way?

      If the prayer had been to Satan instead, would you have been tolerant of it?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Jadugara

      Many of those that complained were "believers",..they just believe in something other than Christianity, and don't want your beliefs shoved in their faces... Get over it...

      January 26, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Possum

      Yeah, because prayer cards and fortune cookies are both, equally unreliable as forms of – or proof of – divine prophecy.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Snow

      Ha.. forget a prayer to satan.. would you be on the plane if that card had some prayer versus of another religion.. say islam? with a picture of kabah..

      don't kid yourself.. you would be blowing a gasket if it was a verse from any other religion in the world except yours.. but for yours, you are suddenly all defensive .. I don't care either way.. That is the difference between you and me..

      January 26, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Christians are just FULL of love aren't they?

      Alaska Airlines is a private company and can do as they like. What I mostly see on this forum is a bunch of Christian's whining about AA's decision. Pot, meet kettle.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  12. Vulpes

    Although I have no problem with them offering these as part of their beliefs I am glad that they understand that not everyone accepts the pushing of religion on them.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      We know, giving up sinful ways is not in your agenda.

      Amen.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Edwin

      HeavenSent: giving up sinful ways is not in the Christian agenda (as evidenced by the sheer numbers of Christians whole-heartedly and knowingly embracing Pride, Wrath, Greed, and Lust - to name a few sins), but how do you know Vulpes is Christian?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Jadugara

      To HeavenSent,....actually, we have no time for your personal agenda, which is apparently to mock others for their desire not to have your particular beliefs shoved in their faces... If you were truly following Christ, you wouldn't be judging others for their supposed sins, and you wouldn't need dumb little cards with blessings on them to make you feel better about your own particular faith choice. Grow up and join the human race...

      January 26, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  13. Snookums

    They should hand out Tijuana Bibles instead.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Possum

      Yeah, or a grab-bag surprise mix of cards from Voodoo, Tarot, Hindism, Buddhism, Islam, off-color jokes, Pok-e-Mon and Magic The Gathering cards....etc, etc, etc...lol

      January 26, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Jadugara

      This is the most awesomely hilarious comment I've read all day... I'm glad to share the same planet with you Snookums, you make it a happier place...

      January 26, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  14. Veritas

    Another victory for those who wish to impose their personal non-religious ideas on a private company...rather than just ignoring the cards and respecting diversity. What ever happened to tolerance in America?

    January 26, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      What part of forcing cards containing biblical verses on a group of people who can't go anywhere to get away from you says "Diversity"?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Jesus Christ; The White, Blond-Haired, Blue-Eyed Hippy Frpm The Middle East

      Tolerance? In America? That's a good one.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Veritas

      This is a private company. Who is forced to fly Alaska Airlines? What every happened to liberty and to each his own?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Vulpes

      It's only a victory for common sense and curiosity. I don't push my theological views on people and I expect any company I do business with will respect that I might want the same respect. It is the fact that we have diversity that this activity is looked down upon.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      That's right, it's a private company. That can choose to stop alienating many of its customers by wasting money on Christian prayer cards. Good to see that you abandoned the "diversity" argument though. That was a loser.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      The walking, talking, spiritually dead need to babble all the time to ensure someone can hear over all that whining. Apparently, their caretakers gave up long ago.

      Amen.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • YeahrRght

      "rather than just ignoring the cards and respecting diversity."

      To be fair then they should have Tarot, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Wicca cards too.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Ellen

      Amen to tolerance. If a card said Have a Nice Day or a quote from the Koran included, what would have happened?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Edwin

      I don't see the tolerance when a non-religious business uses a particular religion to promote its products.

      Then again, as a Christian would you have embraced the airline if the cards ALWAYS offered prayers to Buddha or to Allah? Be honest - would you REALLY have liked Alaska Airlines if they used Allah cards - not a mix of religions, but always Islamic prayers?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • booboo

      the fact that most of you would be okay with a buddhist, or tarot, or other card would be fine, but you have a major problem with a christian card shows your intolerance and prejudice.. what a bunch of hyprocrites.. wow

      January 26, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Flyboy

      It was the airline who was imposing their religious beliefs on passengers who may or (increasingly) may not be christian. The airline is now practicing tolerance to their customers which I think is the right thing to do.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • NO-ONE

      Exactly, they are in the private sector. They don't advertise themselves as a "Christian" company so first time fliers with them are getting these cards handed to them without expecting it. I'm not offended by the content on the cards, I'm offended that ticket prices are higher because they have to pay for the materials to create these cards. Think about how much work goes into creating these cards! By the way, don't fool yourself that this is a faith/non-faith based decision. This is all about cutting costs and increasing the profit margin.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  15. Steve Sybesma

    I have an idea...donate them to a church...that's where stuff like that belongs...or recycle them.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  16. wilson James

    Send the leftovers to Sarah Palin and Newt. They can use em for bookmarks.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  17. Possum

    Well, instead of canceling the tradition – expand it to include famous comforting quotes, poems and verse from diverse religious and non-religious sources, such as, including the voice of Alaska's Native ("Indian") Elders and using the Great North landscape artist, Sydney Laurence's paintings as backdrop images. This would be more appropriate, even collectible, to hand to passengers AND promote the great state of Alaska's heritage and beauty. The notion of an airline handing out prayer cards seems almost like a bad joke about air safety, anyway and to only draw from one Faith comes off like the Hare Krsnas handing out flowers and religious tracts in airports or an anonymous evangelical ambushing outdoor festival goers by quickly handing off one of those lunatic h*llfire and brimstone tracts before the recipient has a second to say, "no thanks."
    I feel the original notion of the cards was, probably, sincere, with the good intent of wishing passengers an enjoyable flight and a kind reminder to give thanks for your meal. Now, it's just not respectful to a more global and diverse customer-base – nor is it good business practice.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Actually, I'm tending to believe the spiritual dead hate being reminded that they are spiritually dead.

      Amen.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Edwin

      If the prayers were from a diverse mix of cultures, religions, and philosophies, then it would be a great tradition. They should probably include at least two in each meal, to make it clear.

      Then again, I expect many American Christians would still be offended when they saw an Islamic prayer asking for clarity of mind or somesuch. To a great many Christians, tolerance = embracing christianity, not embracing multiple viewpoints.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  18. bao

    I'll put my faith in the engineers who designed the airplane, the fabricators and machinists who put it together, and the pilot to not be drunk, thank you very much.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • booboo

      so, you turned a story about a card with a prayer on it into an entire airline depending on god to fly the plane? and you talk about religious folk making stuff up.. ha ha!! you cant even stay on one story without twisting the facts.. scary..

      January 26, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  19. Bogalusa

    If there is no God...nothing matters in the end....if there is a God...that is all which matters.

    Check out the book....It is all good and God is at the end...a good read on the subject...it mocks men who claim to be religious.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • really now

      How can you just change yor mind and say you believe something when you already don't and there is no evidence to effect that change. You would be lying to yourself. Reminds me of the inquisition. They get you to convert from the rack. You say you believe, but just to get the he!! off of it.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • booboo

      "really". your religious beliefs right now are different than what you naturally thought when you entered this world.. you listened to a man tell you about god and formed your religious beliefs. hypocrite

      January 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Edwin

      If there is a God, he/she/it/they must surely be disappointed at how many people blindly follow old dogma rather than newer, better ideas. I would truly hope he/she/it/they have pity on our poor, misguided species.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • really now

      booboo,
      I changed my religious beliefs (from an catholic to and atheist) based on the effect of the lack of evidence. Same way we all stop believing in the tooth fairy. Are you any different?

      January 26, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  20. Sentient reader

    I don't really want to fly any airline that has to use prayers to deliver the passengers to their destination. I'd rather have capable flight crews that do not indulge in mystic rituals or sacrifices.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • booboo

      so a card with a prayer has suddenly turned into an airline who depends on prayers for flight saftey and delivery of passengers? wow, athiests are more creative than christians when trying to ram their religion down peoples throats.. just make stuff up as you go, why not.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Edwin

      booboo: you don't get it. If the cards were Islamic prayers, do you REALLY think the christians preaching tolerance on this board would still be preaching tolerance?

      They'd be organizing boycotts of Alaska Airlines, rather than supporting a decades-long tradition.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • The Guy

      @booboo, "just make stuff up as you go, why not."

      Just going to let everyone else chime in on this one...

      January 26, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Jadugara

      Hah!! Yeah "BooBoo",...the whole Bible is once big case of "just make stuff up as you go, why not"... If you think that thing was all written down all at once by the same person, and hasn't changed over time, you're more naive than most.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • booboo

      um. what does ANY of your comments have to do with the fact that this guy just made up a new story about this article? your stating "oh, the bible is made up" .. what in the world are you talking about, whos talking about the bible? the story is about prayer cards, then this guy posts about an entire airline depending on prayer to get there. talk about MASSIVE logic problems.. you guys are worse than a bunch of religious nuts dancing with snakes.. keep on laughing at yourselves whackjobs..

      January 26, 2012 at 6:24 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.