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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. Geezer

    I'm tired of all that bible nonsense. That's why I don't go to In and Out Burger, they have bible references on their cups and fry bag.

    January 26, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      That is your right...isn't America great?

      January 26, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      Do you object to those Cosmo magazines when you're in line at the grocer? Those things are pure seckcist . They assume that because you're male, you're all hormones and no brain.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  2. Merc

    If they handed out atheist, agnostic, or Muslim cards, they'd never hear the end of it.

    Good riddance. Keep religion to yourself.

    January 26, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Rights of the individual....you can complain, they can too. If a business wants to put out religion or non-religious cards, what of it? According to the govt, aren't businesses individuals too?

      January 26, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      I DO keep my religion to myself. I'm very discriminating about whom I share such a treasure with.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  3. It's kinda funny

    That on a modern aircraft they're handing out these "divine words of wisdom" from people who thought bats were birds and a man could live for days in a sea-monster's belly.....
    hahahaha

    January 26, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  4. NW1000

    Busy body control freak atheists suck.

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

      What the heck are you talking?

      There's a distinctly un-Christian, angry tone to your comment.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Binky42

      I agree, and I'm agnostic. I find product placement and overuse of advertisements everywhere you look more offensive than a well-meaning Bible verse.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Merc

      Which atheist was responsible for this?

      Seriously, it's like blaming the failure of crops on witches.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Born Again Atheist

      Religion is the stupidist thing humans ever invented...I guess the mentally weak always need something to believe in other than themselves.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • JT

      Er... most who are complaining are people of other faiths you dipsh!t. I know you christians are so used to being in control and used to special privileges but get over it, you're bully tactics are no longer working.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      @BornAgainAtheist John Lenon's wrote a song for you – Imagine. It said "Imagine there's not heaven. It isn't hard to do." A credo for mentally lazy?

      January 26, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • booboo

      born again.. too bad you cant see your athiest religion is impeding on your life.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  5. DB

    Since every passenger is welcome to bring a Bible with them and read from it if they want to, there was no logical reason to give these things out. Why go out of your way to offend people for no good reason?

    And for those who are angry about this decision? Y'know...complaining about how hard it is to be Christian in America is sort of like able-bodied people complaining about the disabled getting all the best parking spaces.

    January 26, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • sound reason

      you're right, the blind and deaf of heart are disabled...praying that you're given eyes to see and ears to hear.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  6. Leo

    I'd feel EXTREMELY uncomfortable if I was STUCK on an airplane, tens of thousands of feet in the air, and my flight attendant suddenly handed me religious propaganda. I don't care which religion.

    Besides, if they want to differentiate themselves from other airlines, how about offering something USEFUL, like an extra drink, a real snack, or a free in-flight movie? That's what the customers want.

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

      It would offend me to be handed some Bronze Age nonsense.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • booboo

      jesus. in 500 years your athiestic religion will be just as outdated.. too bad you dont know it yet and are just wasting your time

      January 26, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  7. Wes

    I would have complained right on the airplane itself. It gives me the absolute creeps. the great part about this country IS the separation of state and church and non-religious industries keeping secular and out of the religious business. It would make me feel as though I were living in a Muslim country and lost my freedoms.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Binky42

      They are a private company. They can do this if they want.

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

      Alaska Airlines is a private company.

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

      They can hand our anything they like, but as a *paying* customer I don't have to like receiving something I didn't ask for and that has nothing to do with the service offerred.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Think about it

      Blinky42, if it's no big deal how about they alternate cards. Monday, Wednesday and Friday it can be the current "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday the cards can say "There is no Lord, for He is imaginary; His love doesn't exist.”

      January 26, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Christians are just FULL of love aren't they?

      Exactly, they are a private company and they CAN DO WHAT THEY WANT! And they did, they are removing the cards to deal with it!

      January 26, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  8. 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 5:59 pm |
    • 3N1Amen

      and it is not just for one day...but forEVER burning in torment. IT's your choice...to choose God or not.
      Heaven or Hell?? Turn or burn.

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

      But what should people do who don't support slavery or the inferiority of women or discriminating against the handicapped or don't believe in talking serpents and unicorns?

      January 26, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • R. Diane

      Oh yeah!! AMEN

      January 26, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • GarPundit

      It always makes me smile to find someone who has stumbled upon the One True Religion (whatever One that may be). But the random luck involved always strikes me as a heck of a way to run a Universe. And, of course, Eternal Torment seems like an awfully harsh punishment for making an honest mistake.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Born Again Atheist

      Which god and where is hell?

      January 26, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Jesus

      Reality check my delusional friend. There is no heaven or hell. You can't provide an address or location for either heaven or hell. It's a figment of your imagination. When people die, they decompose, except for those who opt to be cremated. The brain (our homan computer) turns off. No one goes anywhere. No magic carpet rides to a place where a magic man with a ledger on your life passes judgment. As Joan Rivers say, GROW UP!

      January 26, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Christians are just FULL of love aren't they?

      It always amazes me how Christians get so giddy when they imagine their fellow human beings burning in hell.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      I see no giddiness.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • SAM

      As a follower of Jesus, I apologize for 3N1Amen's comments. He or She needs to crack open the bible that they think they're referencing from and read the part about LOVE. There is no excuse for this kind of harshness and it certainly doesn't 'win people over'. Sad. Read your bible 3N1.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • BillyQuan

      @Observer: I guess we will just have to sort it out with a talking burning bush. :)

      January 26, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Marilyn

      Hmm, I attempted to vote for #20, but the Share link did not cfionrm my vote, or take me to another page I did not see another option on which to click in order to submit my vote Perhaps I am doing something wrong? Great work Stacy <3 all of these images

      April 1, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
  9. Observer

    Can any Christians explain why they can't take along enough of their own religious material so they don't need reminders? If your material is such a failure that you need an additional card, you might want to rethink your logic.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Binky42

      That's like saying "why send anyone a birthday card when they already know when their birthday is." I'm agnostic, but it wouldn't offend me if these little cards were in my meal. I'd just put it aside with the green beans and ignore them.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • 3N1Amen

      see the above...

      January 26, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  10. Jim in San Mateo

    As, for the remainder of the cards, burn them. It's only appropriate.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  11. I AM REALL ANGRY! REALLY!

    I am just so angry that Alaskan Airlines now wants to treat non-Christians equal to Christians! That is just wrong. They are going to hell anyway, so they shoould start their punishment now. How dare Alaskan not help us get rid of every other belief!

    Goddamnit, this is America! It is natural and good and right to say "Merry Christmas" to Jews, and to get angry when they won't say it back!

    January 26, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  12. yabbut

    Never mind the prayer cards - I'm astounded that an airline still serves meals! :-)

    January 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  13. fsmgroupie

    " Give thanks to the Lord for He is good;" 'cause if you don't He will burn your a$$ in hell for a million billion trillion years !!!!

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

      Wasn't that the same God that killed the first born of the Egyptians? No wonder they switched to Islam.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  14. Binky42

    Why not just hand them out when people request them? that would keep everyone happy. No reason to get rid of them altogether.

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

      Makes to much sense.

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

      Sounds logical. If a passenger says that he or she wants a bible passage card or a shot of heroin, the flight attendant ought to comply. Whatever makes the passenger more comfortable. Besides both of these serve the same purpose-they tend to dull the brain.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  15. Jim in San Mateo

    I received one of the prayer cards on a flight to Alaska. I was very offended and never paid for another Alaska flight again. I did fly them again once, but someone else bought the ticket. I will never fly them again. I resent very much their religion being foisted on me as a captive audience.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Binky42

      It's a little piece of paper. If it holds no meaning for you why feel offended?

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

      If you resent it that much, why read it?

      January 26, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Ben

      Do you get equally offended at messages in fortune cookies, advertisements or any verbal statement that does not line up with your understanding of the universe?

      January 26, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  16. Michele

    Thankfully, an end to acknowledging the one "true" religion. As a frequent flyer and as others have said, I put my faith in those that work the line and make sure these planes are capable. Yes, I believe in something greater than myself but not necessarily the man in the sky with the flowing beard. How else to explain all the gifts and breaks in my life?

    January 26, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • really now

      "How else to explain all the gifts and breaks in my life?"

      There are billions of people that have lived and died. Just about everything has happened to someone at some time. Nothing "greater" required, don't you think?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  17. ali

    jesus and his imaginary friends are at it again, wonder what ghost mystery they'll solve next.....tune in kids!

    January 26, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  18. pulsars

    Is the Pope going to intruct all christians to boycott Alaska Airlines?

    January 26, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  19. AndyTheGameInventor

    Alaska is making the right decision in discontinuing this. The issue is only partly one of religion – it's more an issue of WHICH religion. It's easy for Christians to forget that while they are a majority in the country, they are not a majority in the world (no one religion is) and non-Christians might feel the same way receiving these cards as Christians would receiving a card with the message of a different faith.

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

      The Psalms aren't necessarily Christian.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  20. BillyQuan

    R.I.P. (Religion Is Poison).

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

      including yours too billy?

      January 26, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • cocoloco

      Wouldn't be ironic if your death is via poison? We will all die, and some, like you, already have poison in their hearts. Have a great little heaven on earth, for the one to come, my friend, won't be easy on your body:

      John 3:16-21
      "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. [17] "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. [18] "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [19] "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. [20] "For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. [21] "But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God."

      January 26, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • 3N1Amen

      Amen.

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

      @cocoloco: Religion is the creation of human beings to control the masses and you are a fool to follow. I don't need some man-made religion to tell me how to behave appropriately. Religion is the poison sickening the human condition throughout all of history. Religion is largely based on ignorance of the unknown and the fear associated with that ignorance. Any fool who believes a human(read: religion) who tells them they "know" what God's word is or they just "know" what lies beyond this life is betraying the common sense the God they believe in has given them and should be ashamed for misusing said common sense. Religion has caused exponentially more harm than good, and the good it has contributed to society could have been achieved though basic common sense. As our knowledge of the world evolves and grows your man-made religion stays entrenched in an ancient mentality.
      BTW: Reciting bible verses shows you cannot think. Your time would have been better spent looking up what "ironic" actually means and how it should be used because your use is incorrect.
      Finally: Faith is making a virtue out of not thinking.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @Billy- "Religion is the creation of human beings to control the masses"

      Got any factual evidence to support this claim. Maybe you can tell us who the guy was that created the concept of the God of Abraham? When that concept was created? Where?
      You can give us things like archaeological evidence or hand written accounts from the one who created it. Good luck.

      January 26, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • BillyQuan

      @Uncouth Swain: I'm sure you are a very nice person and i hope you look into your questions yourself more than I can skim over on this silly forum.
      I did say human beings, not just "one" human being. It is true that religion was created by human beings for many reasons. It is also true that a religion is not a singular item created by one individual (which actually harms any argument for the validity of a religion if you think about it). But is is also true that "modern" religion (especially christianity) has been used primarily to control the masses and to collect taxes. Yes, there are many facts in evidence regarding this subject. The history of Europe during the time when christianity became what it still is today (the late dark ages) is full of facts regarding this very subject. In fact, it was a very important part of life in Europe during that time. Once a press was invented to print copies of a bible, kings in Europe commissioned their own versions of the bible (they were already doing this, but it was easier and more widespread with the invention of the press) and organized churches to have the masses congregate. There, they would be told what to think and the king would have the taxes collected.
      Faith is making a virtue out of not thinking.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      I agree with you that some have used faith as a means to control ppl. That is well doc_umented throughout history.

      However, the other part of your answer has a lot of @ssumtions within it. Most faiths have a "founder" of sorts. Within Judaism most look toward Abraham and Moses as the founders. One could argue that they did not exist but then who created them? Even in the realm of philosophy we can have a founder like Socrates in his style but it was others that got the ball rolling. My only point is that some ppl want someone to prove that God exists. The opposite to that wouldn't be to prove God doesn't exist..that would be proving a negative. So I ask that it be shown that the concept of God was created. So far, at least in the realm of Judeo-Christian thought...none have been able to.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • BillyQuan

      Uncouth: Of course the concept of god was created. That doesn't mean it isn't true... The formulation of human thought has it's limits (however, we haven't reached it yet), but the concept of god in our way of understanding the universe is how we define what we don't understand (yet? ever?). Many different civilizations have done this in very different ways, however, they were all doing it to help cope with the unknown (conceptually speaking of course, not practically like the control issue before). My main two points in our discussion of religion is: 1) the definition/concept of god must change/evolve with our increased knowledge of our universe and 2) I absolutely reject the assumed connection between god and any man-made religion (and of course religion's definition of god) because no man (or woman) is god.
      My snarky line about faith isn't meant as an insult, It is just simply true: Faith is making a virtue out of not thinking.

      January 26, 2012 at 9:13 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.