Topic of the Week: Alaska Pulls Prayer Cards

Alaska Airlines, Meals

The topic has been raised here recently a couple of times. After decades of including prayer cards with meal trays, Alaska has decided to discontinue the practice. It had been reduced in scope when free meals disappeared from the coach cabin, but it was still in First Class meals. Do you agree that they should be gone? Read the full text of the decision here.

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28 comments on “Topic of the Week: Alaska Pulls Prayer Cards

  1. I agree with their removal. I know that Alaska’s heart had been in the right place, and a card with a meal is not the same as the FA forcing the front cabin to say grace, but this is a secular society. I know I don’t want a prayer card from any religion with my meal, and it would make me rather uncomfortable. I realize that this will be missed by a significant minority, but it is not the place of a major corporation to spread the gospel.

  2. From the AS statement “At the same time, we?ve heard from many of you who believe religion is inappropriate on an airplane” <- that might be true, but once the Capt comes on the PA and says there is something wrong with the plane, 90% might change their mind… I'm ok with the move but people will always be offended no matter what you do.

  3. I heard about this and have always thought they shouldn’t have had them in the first place. The first time I flew AS and saw them I was surprised.

    While people will have different thoughts on this subject, mine was is was like saying ‘pray this flight doesn’t crash’ which didn’t send a good message on the safety of the airline or air travel in general.

  4. I’m sad to see this go. I didn’t fly Alaska much and I’m not a religous person, but the cards had a whiff of old time character. It was like a link to the past. I know a number of people claimed to be “offended” by it, but it wasn’t an in your face thing. It was just versus from the Old Testament. I guess we can chalk this up to another dead link to the history of an airline.

  5. I know some found solace in the prayer card while others were offended by it. As a 27 year employee I was uncomfortable for many years ‘distributing’ the prayer card as part of my inflight service as I felt it reflected on me as a person without my consent. Eventually I made my peace with it….but I have heard my share of both complaints and praise over the years about it. I completely understand the reasoning for eliminating it…why would you want to alienate ANY potential customers? I made this argument many times to management over the years. Also, one’s religion is a very personal journey…who are we (or who is anyone for that matter) to say which religion is the ‘right’ one or the one that should be singled out for promotion?

    Those that love AS will continue to fly us with or without the prayer card. Those that will now opt not to fly AS due to the elimination of the prayer card will likely amount to very few. And those that did not fly us before BECAUSE of it (and they do exist) might give us another try.

  6. I’m glad to see the prayer card gone. Christians should a) know these verses or have a Bible with them. If you’re not a Christian, they’re proselytizing. Good riddance!

    1. That works because the whole country is south of Canada, except for well Alaska, but at least their airline is based south of Canada. (in Seatac none the less.)

  7. BAH!!! I thought it was a nice touch. It was something that Alaska did different and the cards were fairly non-offensive (I think there were only 4 or 5 different variations?).

  8. I always thought it was strange that Alaska, of all airlines, had the prayer cards, since the Pacific Northwest is the most irreligious region of the United States. If Delta or American had had them, I would have been less surprised…

    Anyway, it’s a smart move. Not everyone is Jewish or Christian (the cards were usually a very neutral verse from the Psalms). But Alaska management was also wise to be very circumspect in how they removed them, to avoid backlash from religious conservatives, who tend to take umberage at such changes.

  9. Big to do over nothing. If Alaska had just quietly dropped them without an announcement or letter I doubt the majority of there customers would have even noticed.

  10. Brett, I know you’re probably not surprised to see me jump into this one…. This is a personal observation, and not one that my employer would necessarily support.

    Respecting the right to practice your choice or lack of religion should include tolerance of those who choose to practice differently.

    In an ironic and perhaps interesting juxtapositioning against sexual orientation, the tone in the US and Europe has increasingly been turned around to push religion into the closet, with some individuals and organizations taking it to a further extreme and showing absolute intolerance of those who choose to follow a particular lifestyle or practice it openly…

    Given their choice of using Psalms, it would be difficult for a Christian, Jew, or Muslim to find them offensive as they’re all recognized texts in these three religions. I get the idea that some people saw it differently, and you always had the freedom to turn it over.

    As for what other airlines do… If you fly on a Middle East carrier, you’re likely to have an indicator in the cabin or on the IFE of where Mecca is. Do I find that offensive as a non-Muslim? Hardly, and no less offensive than anyone could find things such as a uniform style which reflects the religious based culture of their home countries (e.g. covering of womens’ skin & hair), or a service standard in which only men serve men & women serve women.

    I’ve seen some people question how any successful business could dare weave faith into their business practices. Three come to mind: In-N-Out, who continues to place scripture references on their paper products; Chick-Fil-A, who makes a point of closing on Sundays.

    Even WalMart does this to a smaller degree — depending on the locale, they carry one of the largest selections of devotional candles I’ve ever seen in areas with high concentrations of Catholics, as well as a very large section of LDS books in their Arizona & Utah stores. I know that’s just smart retailing, but its not something you see from every mass merchandiser.

    So, I’m disappointed that they’ve taken them out, but really not surprised.

    And no, I really don’t expect any backlash from the ultra-religious, and question why the company thought they needed to go public with their decision. The cards could have quietly been discontinued when stock ran out, and still achieved the same end without negative publicity on both sides of the issue that the action attract.

  11. I can’t believe they distributed them in the first place. I’m Jewish and don’t want to see them even if they are from my religion. You can be religious AND secular. They are not mutually exclusive. Why does religion of any kind need to be placed in front of someone trapped in a confined space with no input as to whether they even want it?

    1. No one forces you to read the prayer. I have never flown AS in my life, or had any religious experience on an airplane. I think KLM also pulled some longtime delft blue houses with prayers on them. Are things like fortune cookie advice considered religion?

      But including some verse like this from a business standpoint has a charm to it, and makes First class seem special, which it should be. That’s why I don’t think AS should pull these unless they’re costing so much to do.

      Everyone is free to practice their own religion. However, the present state of America means public showing of religion is not approved. I’m sure Bryan Bedford and Frontier would love to do prayer cards but some idiot would sue them.

  12. This is much ado about little. It’s strikes me as odd in modern American society for an airline to hand out prayer cards, and Alaska is smart to stop doing so. Given that the practice has been limited to first class for serveral years now, I probably would have just stopped distributing them without making a big deal about it. I doubt many folks would have noticed. If they did notice, “the letter’ could have been furnished to those curious about the change.

  13. The courts have ruled against prayer in school. It;s strangethey haven;t outlawed prayingon airplanes.

    Seriously, isn’t this a tempest in a teapot???

    1. Maybe that’s because public schools are an extention of the government. Prayer is alive and well in the private schools who chose to include it.

      It’s like the saying “there are no athiests in a combat zone”… As long as there are fearful fliers, there will always be prayer on airplanes.

      1. Prayer is also alive and well in public schools. Right about exam time or about a day or so before report cards are issued.

  14. Oh dear, what to do. Guess I’ll just have to take a flight to National, have some liver and onions at Sholl’s Cafeteria, served by the helpful ladies with their hair nets, and every table, a blessed prayer card, making me remember to say grace.

    No, you serious? Not every table anymore? Oh, no Sholl’s! OK Alaska, whatever! Bless you all!

  15. Sorry, but Sholl’s Cafeteria in Washington, DC, is no more.

    This isn’t the only airline that has had prayer cards from time to time. However, I think anyone who wants to say grace knows how to do it without the cards.

    As for religious protection in the skies, fly Egypt Air or Air Sinai. As you enter, they have a copy of the Koran just behind the cockpit — instead of an American airworthiness certificate.

  16. DISAGREE. It was a minority that was offended. My argument is that if a Womens or Mens Magazine was laid on the tray with all kinds of sexual advertising, well that would be just OK for some of you that are offended by Gods Word being advertised to you….what a bunch of hypocrits! Jesus Christ made a few comments about your hearts and where there stinking thinking.

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