Alaska Airlines’ Prayer Cards – Who’s Offended?

Alaska Airlines is my favorite carrier.  They have great customer service, an extremely generous mileage plan and routes to the places I regularly travel.

For the past 30 years, Alaska has handed out prayer cards with its meals.  They were simple cards quoting passages from Psalms printed over lovely photographs.  Since 2006, when the airline stopped offering meals to customers in the main cabin, the cards have only appeared on meal trays in first class.

Well, not anymore.  Alaska has made a business decision, starting in February, not to include the cards with meals.  Why, you ask?

Apparently, it used to receive more positive than negative comments but the times, they are a changin’.  The tide has turned.

Airline spokesman, Bobbie Egan, said, “After carefully considering all sides, it was agreed that eliminating the cards was the right thing to do.

“Religious beliefs are deeply personal and sharing them with others is an individual choice,” said the email I received signed by both airline CEO Bill Ayer and President Brad Tilden.  The email said some of its customers enjoyed the cards but others were offended by them.

Now I understand this was a business decision made by Alaska Airlines.  That’s fine.

But, really.  C’mon.  Someone is actually offended by a card with a prayer on it?  If you don’t like, turn it over, or put it in the front seat pocket.  Or give it back to the flight attendant.  I’d really like to know who is offended by this gesture.

I’m not sure if the “offended persons” believe in God but statistics now show the percentage of non-religion affiliated people is on the rise in this country.  There are still five million Jews in this country and the majority of Americans still identify themselves as Christians.  So, who, exactly, is opposing this innocuous little card quoting from the Old Testament?  Apparently a small minority of people who are the most vocal and who are successfully imposing their will on the majority, that’s who.

Although I consider myself a Christian, my roots are in Roman Catholicism.  I’ve had Jehovah Witnesses come to my door over the years and I simply say, “Thank you” and accept their little pamphlets. I’ve even thumbed through the pages in years past.  Mormon missionaries regularly come by and I do the same thing.  I tell them politely, “My husband and I are Christians and we’re happy in our faith, but thank you.”  I don’t put a sign on my door saying “No Religious Proselytizing Allowed.”

Even if someone doesn’t give thanks to God or a higher power for their food, isn’t this a quiet reminder to at least thank the flight attendant for bringing the tray?  I’ve seen many people accept their food and not say thank you to the flight attendant – both in first class and in the main cabin.

And people don’t think there is a secular war aimed at religion in this country?

Every day I read about another battle being waged.  The President recently attempted to mandate that religious employers, opposed to most forms of birth control, cover contraception in health plans – a direct attack on the First Amendment and religious freedom.

Pressure is placed on retailers to prohibit their employees from saying “Merry Christmas” to their patrons.

Just this past month, the Department of Education of NY has banned local church congregations utilizing space in the state’s public schools for services even though the congregations pay rent.

And the battles go on and on and on….

And with the elimination of Alaska Airlines’ prayer cards, chalk up one more for the secularists.

Unfortunately, I get where to this going….

Author Bio:

For over twenty years, Leona has tried to heed her husband’s advice, “you don’t have to say everything you think.” She’s failed miserably. Licensed to practice law in California and Washington, she works exclusively in the area of child abuse and neglect. She considers herself a news junkie and writes about people and events on her website, “I Don’t Get It,” which she describes as the “musings of an almost 60-year old conservative woman on political, social and cultural life in America.” It’s not her intention to offend anyone who “gets it.” She just doesn’t. Originally from Brooklyn, and later Los Angeles, she now lives with her husband, Michael, on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest, which she describes as a bastion of liberalism.
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  • chief98110

    I have heard rumors that this may have been done as a result of Alaska Airlines recent partnership with Emirates air, check this out.

    • Ron F

      Correlation does not mean causation. But even if this was the reason, for some reason Alaska Airlines thought partnering with Emerites Airline was in its best interest and the removing of the prayer cards might have been for a valid business reason. My guess is that this will not cause Alaska Airlines to lose any customers.

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  • robin in fl

    if someone is that easily offended by a small piece of paper I would guess they have far too much time on their hands and are just looking for things to offend them.par for the course now a days …when in reality all they have to do is not look at the card. it’s that simple. No one is forcing them down on their knees saying ,”YOU MUST PRAY!!!!”..

    but now a days seems like everyone makes a major deal out of things that have NO impact whatsoever on their life. *insert eyes rolls here*

    well if people continue to tell others how to live it will just come full circle and then ‘they’ will eventually become the offender.

    like an old song says..’mind your own business and you won’t be mindin’ mine!’

  • Terry

    I love the prayer cards and and am appalled that how minority opinions drive business decisions. Did Alaska take a poll of passengers or just go on the feedback from the folks who complain?

    It is interesting that the removal comes with the addition of Emirates as an airline partner.

  • Leona Salazar

    Update on the Prayer Cards: I was fortunate enough to be upgraded to first class this past weekend on Alaska Airlines and I told the flight attendant that I missed the prayer cards. She said she, too, felt the same way and mentioned that the decision to eliminate the prayer cards came at the same time as the decision to make Emirates Airline a partner airline. Coincidence?

  • RuBegonia

    Gov. Sarah Palin ~ Facebook post ~ Thursday, January 26, 2012: Alaska Airline’s Prayer Cards; It’s hip to be offended?

  • Ron F

    This does not infringe on anyone’s freedom of religion. People are still free to pray on planes, as they are in schools and anywhere else. It just means that for some weird business reason, Alaska Airlines decided to stop handing out the prayer cards. Usually business decisions are made on the basis of profits. Maybee Alaska Airlines thought it might lose business to dissatisfied customers if it kept the prayer cards. Or maybe it just thought it did not want to have to respond to the negative comments. Frankly, I cannot immagine why anyone would be so offended by a prayer card that they would complaign to the airline. On the other hand I am sure some people cannot understand why some things offend me. Maybe the people who were offended by the prayer cards cannot understand our response. In any event, we are still allowed in this country to practice our religions as we see fit. We are still allowed to pray. Stopping organized prayer in public gatherings does not stop prayer.

  • Mike Rice

    When all of you good intentioned liberals don’t like something and are offended, it is banned. When conservative protests, al the sudden they are called a bigot and or a recist by the people that are purportedly the most tolerant.Huge double standard, and method of manipulation by the left to control thought and response to any issue they choose!

  • Brian Ward

    When conservatives don’t like something they don’t participate in it.

    When liberals don’t like something they want it banned.

    • Dave O’Connor

      Don’t you see, Brian. Banning something requires funding, personnel and bureaucracy.
      Big bucks and retirment benies in that.

  • Bill Hurdle

    If someone is offended by such an innocuous act, I can only conclude that the source of their displeasure is the receptiveness of other individuals and their desire to deny them that pleasure.It is unadulterated selfishness.

  • Terry Walbert

    I feel about a prayer card on an airline the same way I feel about taking chicken soup for a cold. It couldn’t hurt.

    • CCNV


  • DOOM161

    Even if you’re offended, wouldn’t the easiest solution be to stop flying on that airline?

  • A. K.

    I am a stockholder and long time MVP status frequent flier. I wrote Alaska Air years ago to tell them how proud I was that they had the cards, and again recently to tell them that they are cowards for removing them.

    Perhaps a prayer to Allah might be inappropriate in America, but a prayer to Yaweh on El Al, a prayer to Allah on Qatar Air, or a prayer invoking Budda on Thai air would not offend me at all.

    As a people, we need to celebrate our diffences, embrace diversity, and have tolerance for all.

    Maybe some people just need to grow up a little…

    • Drew Page

      Exactly. We are constantly harangued by the left to “embrace diversity” and to “have tolerance” for people and ideas different from our own. Why doesn’t the left embrace reciprocity?

      This once again illustrates the tyranny of the minority. I am deeply disappointed in Alaska Air’s kowtowing to this kind of complaint.

    • Ron F

      The Alaska Airlines spokeperson said that the reason why AA changed its policy is that for a number of years the comments it received were primarily positive and that lately the opinion had shifted. I have no reason to believe that the spokesperson was lying or that there is another reason. AA’s provits were up 10% last year. Most agree that it is one of the best run airlines in the business. Apparently AA is performing its essential services very well. It sounds like this was purely a business decision on AA’s part which I cannot disagree with. If on the other hand AA had a policy that prevents passengers from bringing their own prayer cards or bibles on the airplane to read, I would no longer fly on the airline.

  • Terry Walbert

    Maybe the customers were spooked by the prayer cards and wondered whether the flight was in danger of crashing.

  • Roger Ward

    Is Alaska Airlines publicly held or privately owned?

    If private, the airline has the right to do as it chooses.

    If public, they have no right to proselytize (even in this passive way.) I don’t know where it is in the Constitution, but I’m pretty sure it’s there somewhere: we have the right to be left alone.

    As a fallen-away Catholic who is not religious at all, I’m not offended by the prayer cards personally and have no real objection to their distribution …. but I’ll stay with my initial question: publicly held or privately owned? That should settle the question of whether they have the right to distribute the cards. The real question is whether the recipients have the right to be offended by the cards? (I don’t think so.)

    • Michael

      “we have the right to be left alone”

      Then I suggest you stay in your home and stay away from the rest of us, because you simply can’t be “left alone” while interacting with the world around you.

      And the issue of publicly held vs. private is a non-issue. What legal code did you pull that from?

    • Ron F


      The Constitution does not include a right to be left alone but it does provide for limited federal government and the least amount of interference in our lives by the federal government as possible.

  • Randy

    This is what I don’t get…

    If the religious beliefs of some is just some sort of antiquated, superstitious, gobbledygook to the atheists of the world, then why do they get so upset over some meaningless, superstitious, gibberish statement? I don’t get offended by peoples of different faith’s expressions of religious beliefs (to the point where they combine religion with explosives). I don’t even get offended by an atheist’s statement of non-belief. I thought that was what a tolerant person should do. If what they say doesn’t affect my life then why should I care what they say? I guess that’s the real issue. An atheist maybe isn’t so sure he/she is correct in believing there is no God. And their demand for the removal of all religion at all times is just their insecurity and lack of faith in their non-faith coming out.

    They should be, and are free to believe there is no such thing as a God or an afterlife or whatever. Why am I not free to believe the converse? Why am I not free to believe that abortion is not just a choice and may, in fact be murder? Why am I not free to believe that some organizations have a right to their beliefs and not have their beliefs trod upon by the state? I guess we really are becoming a nation governed by men and not by laws. I guess that means everyone loses. If a man gives you a right, he can and probably will take it away. If rights come from a higher plane, then no man can take them away. Just how far will we fall before we realize what we have lost?

    • chuck.tatum

      For someone not bothered by an atheist telling you how things really are, you spent a lot of time be bothered by some things atheists say.

      • Randy

        It’s called making a point.

    • Sabrina

      Amen. For Someone whom the atheists and anti-theists claim doesn’t exist,they sure seem sacred enough, don’t they? lol I say Alaska Airlines should keep the prayer cards, and if someone doesn’t like it, oh well. America, whether the anti-theists like is or not is STILL a Christian majority. Why should the majority have to succumb to the caprices of a few, the 2% or so who think there is no God?

  • wally

    It all starts with a news media that is controlled by the left. Its time to show the left and secular crowd what the conservatives and religious can do by voting the democrats out of office and get back to the constitution.

  • Kevin

    Since religious messages of Leftolicism appear in newspapers daily, maybe we could get most of the media outlets in America shut down on the same thesis. Secularism is a religion, no matter from what philosophical view point it is analyzed. It requires more dogmatic commitment than any established religion in America.

    • chuck.tatum

      Saying secularism is a religion is like saying not having sex is a sexual position.

      I do appreciate you and every other believer trying to insist NOBODY is smart enough to not pray and bow to something just as stupid as they do. It gives so many of you comfort for some reason.

      Sarcasm off, I realy do commend you for admitting belief in a diety is dogmatic.

  • John Detwiler

    This is rediculous. Isn’t the airline aware that they heve offended the majority of their passengers. If I were to take the airline again I would be very vociferous in making my feeling heard about the absence of the Prayer cards. I think it might be a good idea for others who feel as I do, should do the same. Its way past the time to start standing up to the liberals who want to take away our freedom to express ourselves.

    • Gena Taylor

      John, the problem in this country has been that those of us who are believers, in any religion other than Islam, have gotten to where we “turn the other cheek” every time our religious freedoms are stomped on. We need to start doing like the Muslims and atheists do, raise literal Hell when our freedoms are taken away to suit those who don’t agree that we should have any religious freedoms.
      If you notice, people who claim to be comedians feel much freer and safer to ridicule Jesus than they do to ridicule Mohammed. Christians do not as a general rule cut off the heads of those who ridicule Jesus. The Danish cartoonist, and the South Park writer have learned what happens to those who insult Islam. And most others have noticed and therefore don’t mess too openly with Muslims and their beliefs. And they feel completely free to demand whatever they want and they get it because they have people scared to death not to give in to them. Maybe one thing we can learn for that religion is to get as nasty and violent with those who attack our beliefs, whether Christian or Jew, we do not have to continue to allow ourselves to be walked on. Someone needs to draw that proverbial line in the sand, and say: No more,we will not allow any more, and we need to back them up. I noticed in an article by Rep West, that March 23rd there is some sort of national rally to protest the attacks on religious freedom in this country. We need to stand up to those who glibly say: Separation of Church and State and let them know what that means – no established state religion. And then remind them the constitution follows that that the government also cannot interfere with the practice of peoples’ religions as well. As in, they cannot stop Christians or Jews from celebrating their holidays. You cannot force people to stop saying Merry Christmas. This insanity has got to be stopped. NOW!!

      • Dave O’Connor

        Great point Jena; “..the problem in this country has been that those of us who are believers, in any religion other than Islam…”
        Anticipate the day when fingering pocket-rosary causes a flight to be grounded.
        Yet, isn’t it strange that this secularization seems to play to one group of people – significant by their religion alone.

        • Ron F

          Weren’t six Muslims taken off an airplane in handcuffs because they prayed at an airport in 2006? I also think the airline would not let them fly on that airline after the incident. I have not heard of anyone else being taken off of an airplany for praying or using rosary beads.

  • chuck.tatum

    Would you be offended if Alaska Airlines was handing out prayers to Allah?

    How about cards from atheist groups that simply say that there is no god?

    I would be offended that an airline I was flying on believed their airplanes are held up in the sky by a deity and therefore not really need to be too concerned about maintenance and safety when reaching a scheduled final destination is up to that invisibla man in the sky anyway.

    • John Detwiler

      And as I said in my previous comment. People like you OFFEND me, with your desire to censor things that I hold dear. Your opinion is your’s to enjoy. But why do you feel thet you have the right to object to mine.

    • Kevin

      Then don’t fly that airline.

    • Gena Taylor

      Like Ms Salazar said, if you don’t like the card, turn it over, hand it back, tuck it away, if you feel strongly enough, crumble it up and throw it away. Same if it is from an atheist or Muslim. But don’t forbid others who might get enjoyment out of it to have it because it offends YOU. You are not the center of the universe and what is offensive to you does not mean that that should dictate what others are able to do or enjoy.