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. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Speak Lord for your servant listens

    January 29, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • Nope

      We've been praying you would stop posting this crap, yet it continues, proving prayer doesn't work....

      Oh, and how about all those prayers for world peace that go unanswered.

      Oh and then there's the prayers of starving people around the world whose prayers go unanswered, dying by the millions.

      January 30, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • just sayin

      Nope – a – Dope

      January 30, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Ummmm

      If "just sayin" only had a brain

      January 30, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Nope

      Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School and other scientists tested the effect of having three Christian groups pray for particular patients, starting the night before surgery and continuing for two weeks. The volunteers prayed for "a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications" for specific patients, for whom they were given the first name and first initial of the last name.

      The patients, meanwhile, were split into three groups of about 600 apiece: those who knew they were being prayed for, those who were prayed for but only knew it was a possibility, and those who weren't prayed for but were told it was a possibility.

      The researchers didn't ask patients or their families and friends to alter any plans they had for prayer, saying such a step would have been unethical and impractical. The study looked for any complications within 30 days of the surgery. Results showed no effect of prayer on complication-free recovery. But 59 percent of the patients who knew they were being prayed for developed a complication, versus 52 percent of those who were told it was just a possibility.

      January 30, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  2. Oh Yeah

    Personally, I wouldn't get offended by these cards, although a tiny percent of my ticket cost must have been spent printing them. I'm not a huge fan of Confucius either, but I don't get offended by reading one of his saying when it comes in a fortune cookie, and I bet tons of Christians don't find these sayings offensive either, even though they come from a rival ideology.

    January 28, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  3. Tanya Monique Glascoe

    I'm not sure how I feel about this. It is sad to see a tradition go away. I have taken Alaska Airlines many times. Tanya Monique Glascoe.

    January 28, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  4. Oodoodanoo

    Fine. Want religious texts all over your plane? Then in fairness, I demand the exit signs be replaced with "Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter".

    January 28, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  5. 3N1Amen

    It's interesting seeing the anti-Christian folk coming back on here to give more of their two cents.

    Here's something you won't find on the airline...

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
    For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

    John 3:16-17

    He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
    And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
    John 3:18-19

    January 27, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • The Phist

      It's interesting to see people quoting scripture from a book known to be a work of fiction as though it actually has some kind of deep meaning.

      January 27, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      I find nothing signficant in John's ranting about why we should follow his church, make him powerful, and give him money. His little lie about eternal life is the oldest trick in the book. And he doesn't give a rat's ass about Jesus.

      What did you quote that rubbish for?

      January 27, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Reality

      From Professor Gerd Ludemann's book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 416, "Anyone in search of the historical Jesus will not find him in the Gospel of John......This verdict is the consensus among New Testament scholars."

      January 27, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • Jiff3

      Brainwashed much?

      January 28, 2012 at 8:35 am |
  6. Bobs Friend

    If a business hands out prayer cards or atheist cards, whether they benefit of suffer, that is their decision, and it is free enterprise working.
    People who are saying this should be illegal, or there is some kind of Christian oppression of non believers here are honestly clueless... probably 14 year olds who have no idea what the bill of rights is all about

    January 27, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      I agree with you. Those who say it should be illegal, or that it's opression probably aren't seeing the issue fully, and might just be 14 as you suggest.

      I'm 57. My opinion of the cards is that they are offensive, inappropriate, and repugnant. Nothing more, nothing less.

      January 28, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  7. Afriend

    (0: John 3:16 :0)

    January 27, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Yo!

      So what?

      January 27, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      Cthulu 6:18

      January 27, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  8. Pete

    If the airline had cards that reflected the atheist viewpoint, (Gods = mythology), I'm sure Christians would be freaking out. Why is it acceptable in the reverse? The answer is, it's not. Believe in garden fairies if you like, but don't subject me to it just because you're gullible.

    January 27, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Christians are the leaders in double standards so it's not really that surprising.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • marilynn

      on the contrary. i doubt christians would really care. in fact, they just wouldnt fly that airline. you give your opinion too much weight. not everyones as touchy as athiests

      January 27, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Speaking of being touchy. Someone who would stop using an airline because they stopped giving out cards with random bible verses on them that not everyone finds appropriate seems a lot more touchy. In terms of them "freaking out" I'm sure that there are philosophical ideas that would cause that among the Christian populace.

      January 27, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      As an atheist, I wouldn't have stopped using the airline. That's a bit over the top. I'd just form the opinion that the parent company was a pack of pinheads. And I'd probably never give it another thought.

      January 27, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Also as an atheist, if I refused to stay in any hotel with a bible in the bedside drawer, a missing 13th floor, or some other superst.ition then I would never be able to travel at all. Sometimes you just have to grin and get on with it.

      January 28, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  9. Eric G

    Knowledge is superior to belief.
    I would rather know that the pilot of my flight is qualified than believe that his god is in the plane with him.

    January 27, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Pete

      Right on my broth.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • marilynn

      i think you mean wisdom. knowledge changes every few years and we find out what we thought was once true actually isnt (like the world being flat.. that was once 'knowledge')

      January 27, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Bobs Friend

      1 Cor 13:8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

      Matt 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. (Jesus)

      January 27, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Ryan A

      I love it (well, it actually drives me nuts) when anti-science Christians say stupid stuff like "knowledge changes every few years", and in the next breath they use people thinking the earth was flat as an example. What knowledge is it that "changes every few years", since it certainly isn't the shape of the Earth, which we figured out over a thousand years ago, and it hasn't changed since?

      January 28, 2012 at 5:16 am |
    • Jim

      @marilynn, wisdom is important, but when it comes to flying the plane my family in on, I'll take a knowledgeable pilot over a wise-man any day.

      January 28, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      True wisdom is knowing that knowledge does in fact change over time. Sadly, religion most often rejects this wisdom in favor of holding onto ancient, outdated knowledge that is no longer valid.

      January 28, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  10. Lol

    They liked having somebody pour oil on their head back in them days. Pretty weird people, imo.......

    January 27, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  11. Kingofthenet

    I would be scared as heck getting one of these at 30,000ft imagine yours say's:
    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil: For thou art with me;
    Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
    Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
    Thou annointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over.

    January 27, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  12. JoeM

    Speak out, Christians. Let not this country be in the hands of aitheists. God will bless His people. "In God we trust".

    January 27, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Phillip

      It's already been in the hands of atheists and it's been just fine, your intolerance is a disgrace to this country.

      January 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • 3N1Amen

      AMEN Joe!!! True Christians need to start speaking up...
      Can you imagine the impact even on Hollywood if Chrstians refused to watch movies that cursed our God?? They'd lose millions!

      January 27, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Mary

      "They'd lose millions!"

      Yup and so would all the christians that work for them, that own stock in them, that own movie theaters, own distribution centers for DVD's and you'd send the economy into the toilet. You're an idiot and so short sighted no wonder you’re a christian. You want to show the world how great your religion is then why don't you start by telling all those adulterers that got divorces they're an abomination. Then look around in your own church at all the greed and gluttony. You’re nothing by a bunch of hypocrites.

      January 27, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Ichiban

      If it works for you, terrific. Just don't show up at my door; I follow Buddha.

      January 27, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Kingofthenet

      You might not be an Atheist, but you are certainly Godless.

      January 27, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • 3N1Amen

      Mary, that is why I referred to "True" Christians. There ARE many hypocritical Christians who are in turn, causing people like yourself who follows and keeps your eyes on 'man' and not on Jesus who was perfect. Christians are NOT perfect...and definitely NOT many TRUE followers of Christ.
      AND...Christians sin too. They are not exempt just because they believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior. We are ALL sinners and fall short of the glory of God. He is a forgiving God and forgives us when we ask for forgiveness. He loves all of us no matter WHAT the sin is in our own lives.

      Are you a Christian? (?Mary?)

      January 27, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @3N1Amen: You said, "Mary, that is why I referred to "True" Christians."

      How exactly would we identify a "True" Christian? I want to make sure I don't get misled...

      January 27, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Kate

      Keep you religion to yourself and have respect for others who see the world differently than you do. People like you who believe that they are holier than thou and feel free to preach their beliefs to others in the name of their God are offensive.

      January 27, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      @phillip " It's already been in the hands of atheists and it's been just fine, your intolerance is a disgrace to this country."

      Have you heard of the someone being "so broad minded that his head is flat"? THis describes blog atheists. They will tolerate anything. Tolerating everything saves the need for thought. The atheist brain is often like the Canadian River – a mile wide and a foot deep.

      January 27, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Mary

      You said “AMEN Joe!!! True Christians need to start speaking up...”

      Then you said “There ARE many hypocritical Christians who are in turn, causing people like yourself who follows and keeps your eyes on 'man' and not on Jesus who was perfect. Christians are NOT perfect...and definitely NOT many TRUE followers of Christ.”

      Then you top it off “Christians sin too. They are not exempt just because they believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior.’

      So guess what bud, there are no “True Christians” to speak up, you are all a bunch of hypocrites, which is why you need to keep your religion to yourself.

      January 27, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      @Mary You say that we are all hypocrites. To be a hypocrite you have to do two things. 1) believe in something, 2) DELIBERATELY violate that belief. As I explained to Phillip, atheists are so tolerant of everything that we don't accuse them of believing in much of anything. They cheaply escape the charge of hypocrasy.

      "Thinking is a narrowing process, and it leads to what we know as Dogma." G.K. Chesterton

      January 27, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • The Phist

      So says the catholic. Enjoy your useless rituals.

      January 27, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Mary

      "Tolerating everything saves the need for thought."

      You're an idiot, it's called diversity something companies strive for because it brings more thoughtful ideas to the table. When you have the same old, same old you lose your ability to grow.

      January 27, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      I agree Kate. I would just add that those people also feel very prideful in their piousness and perceived "moral superiority", but wait isn't pride one of those seven deadly sin things? Well whaddya know.

      January 27, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • George

      I will always speak out for God. We need to shine the light of Truth on the atheists and what they are doing to our nation.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • *facepalm*


      Can you actually provide explicit examples of what you think atheists are "doing to this nation"?

      January 27, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Of course George can't *facepalm*. It's George, specifics and details are like kryptonite to him.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      The light of Truth is already shining on us atheists. It's the believers who would rather we return to the Dark Ages.

      January 28, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  13. Reality

    Dear Alaska Air,

    How to get some added customers and inexpensive advertising–

    Some suggested slogans for your next fuselage decorations:




    Added details upon request.

    January 27, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • 3N1Amen

      It wil be a sad forEVER when you find out while being tormented in hell that there really is GOD. I am truly sorry that you do not believe.

      January 27, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • The Phist

      Prove there is a god.

      January 27, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Laer

      Ooooohhh Pascal's Wager rears its ugly head yet again.

      I will laugh whole heartedly when Allah says to Xtians "Sorry, you got it wrong, no virgins for you!"

      January 27, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Wouldn't it be sad if there wasn't a God out there to justify all the anti-science, anti-gay, guilt trip ridden, outright hostility being generated by some believers?

      Seriously, if someone promised you that a dollar would be mailed to you if you farted just before leaving a crowded room would you do it? Pascal's Wager fails to account for the actual cost of believing. It isn't free, and people often do end up suffering from the religious ridicule of those who feel they must call others "sinner" in order to better their chances of getting into heaven. If there isn't a God then you were just being a jerk for nothing, right?

      Some of us aren't self-centered enough to pick on other kids because the school bully might pick on us if we don't.

      January 28, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  14. BemidjiJack

    I bet those who think religion is inappropriate on a plane think otherwise when experiencing severe turbulence. Just sayin...

    January 27, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      And which religion do you think they then turn to? As an atheist, who rejects all religions, who do you think I would start praying to if the plane started going down?

      *sigh* Though you may not be able to wrap your mind around the concept, there actually are atheists in foxholes. Not all of us need to use religion as a crutch to help us cope with fear.

      January 27, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Kate

      I'll take that bet and raise you a I don't think so. Don't be so smug about your religious beliefs. They are not shared by many.

      January 27, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Laer

      And every devout Xtian on that turbulent plane has medical insurance, life insurance and pulls their seatbelt a little tighter.

      So much for faith. Hedging your bets?

      January 27, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  15. Zeta Reticulan

    There is more evidence that our God(s) come from past Alien visits than there is to the current spirit world God(s) concept. But yet that type of thinking is considered to be lunatic. Airliines should give out collector cards for the Greys or Majestic 12 or Barney & Betty Hill. When the Aliens come back on 12/23/12 I will be proven correct and vindication will be mine!

    January 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • marilynn

      we actually have more proof of aliens seeding life on this earth than we do evolution. but people are so stupid theyll buy into anything and mock those who disagree.. So the trendy thing is "evolution" without a shred of proof. Meanwhile we have TONS of evidence about UFOS.. not that im a UFO guy, im just making a point.. its silly

      January 27, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • Ryan A

      Sorry marilynn, but you making that statement is the epitomy of irony, though I doubt you'll understand why.

      January 28, 2012 at 5:28 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      @ Marilynn .." "evolution" without a shred of proof" ... LOL
      Proof of evolution .. YES
      Evidence of UFO's .. YES
      Proof or even crumb of evidence of God(s) .. NONE
      Wishing something were true does not make it so, no matter how many wish it or how many times what you've heard has changed to make it more "modern". LOL

      January 28, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      @ Ryan A .. Dead on!

      January 28, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      Even if this were true, having more proof of aliens seeding life on this earth makes this explanation a far better one than some god having done it, which has zero proof going for it, right?

      January 28, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  16. toxictown

    Why don't they just do inspirational quotes from all religions? I'm sure they could cover everybody. Collect 'em all!

    January 27, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Laer

      I would love to see the responses by bigoted Americans to Muslim quote cards on a plane... 🙂

      January 27, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  17. 3N1Amen

    It's sad to see a company conform to the world. What a witness for God to have these simple little verses with their meals... very sad indeed.

    January 27, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      How is an annoying card with things that not everyone believes a "witness for god"?

      January 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • George


      Amen. This country is in a very sad state. God is going to turn his wrath upon us. How many times can we spit on God and not expect a response? The soul of our country is rotting.

      January 27, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • BR

      What would be better than a criticism about "conform to the world" would be the airline's (and your) realization that the world is a diverse place, and the wholesale assumption that people are looking to hear a Christian message during their flight. What it says to non-Christians is, we're shoving this down your throat no matter how personal your beliefs are to you". How would you feel as a Christian if you received a card upon your flight extolling Allah or the value of being Jewish? No one is stopping you from carrying your bible on a flight. But keep it to yourself.

      January 27, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • George


      If I were flying on Saudi airlines, I would expect something from the Koran, and I would have no problem with it. But this is AMERICA. We are a Christian nation.

      January 27, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Primewonk

      No George, we are not a Christian nation. We are a nation that recognizes peeople have thousands og gods, and no gods. And no ones god gets special rights.

      January 27, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • hermitman

      US is not a Christian nation. We welcome all religious beliefs including no belief at all.

      January 27, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • 3N1Amen

      Yes the world is diverse. That's why Christians need to be a witness for God as you and many other diverse people will find themselves in hell one day...then you will know that God is real.
      Study the Bible. But I see if you don't believe, I am sure you won't get past the first verse...'In the beginning..." I am sorry that you do not believe...but rather be a follower of men.

      January 27, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Kate

      Then why don't you carry your own little religious cards just for yourself everywhere you go. And stop feeling so holier than thou. You don't get to decide what others believe.

      January 27, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "God as you and many other diverse people will find themselves in hell one day.."

      Which is why your god is a monster and immoral just like Hitler.

      January 27, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Laer

      I love how smug Xtians are when they tout Hell as a threat. Because of course it is a very Xtian value to wish others eternal burning torment.

      January 27, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • 3N1Amen

      Who else is going to tell you?? It's in the Bible. Read all about hell there for yourself. You will end up in hell if you don't turn to God...and ask Him for forgiveness of your sins...to believe in Him. Who is going to tell you really?? An atheist? Anybody else who cares??

      January 27, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • The Phist

      FYI, hell doesn't exist. Take your fear tactics elsewhere. They don't work on intelligent people.

      January 27, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  18. Jerusalem Joe

    When we honor God, God honors us. Sorry to hear that AA is discontinuing the practice.

    January 27, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Kate

      The Airline isn't stopping you from carrying your own little religious cards around, Jerusalem Joe. The Airline is just showing respect to those passengers who do not have the same beliefs as you do.

      January 27, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • marilynn

      kate. no theyre not. they buckled under political pressure. Theyre not attempting to show respect, dont be naive

      January 27, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Al

      What's wrong with political pressure? If something's wrong, then shouldn't political pressure be brought to bear to help change it?

      January 28, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  19. Cameron2k

    If it cares about the people, they would provide meal to all passengers. I dont mind the scriptures if it comes with free food

    January 27, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Free food, like fortune cookies?

      January 28, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Wow

      @Cameron2k Did you ever think that they can't afford to feed all of the passengers? Maybe they should raise ticket prices too.

      January 29, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  20. Anonymous Coward

    If Alaska Airlines truly cared about its passengers' beliefs and practices, then they would provide meal options for people with dietary restrictions.

    January 27, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Flyers could pray for a choice of meal, I suppose? 🙂

      January 27, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Wow

      @Anonymous Coward How about you bring your own food or just refrain from eating. What's the longest you could possibly be on one of their flights? 6 hours?

      January 29, 2012 at 8:17 am |
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About this blog

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.