Alaska Airlines and prayer cards

Alaska Airways will apparently stop, as of February 1, the practice of handing out prayer cards on flights, after some passengers complained. Never having flown on that particular airline I was not aware that such an odd policy even existed and I filed this story under the category of “What were they thinking?” It has apparently been going on for 30 years but in the last six years the prayers were handed out only in first class, since they came with a meal.

The people who objected may not necessarily be unbelievers, who would likely have treated it as a joke. They may simply be nervous religious flyers for whom being told to pray during a flight made them feel that airline travel is so unsafe that it requires divine intervention. As one passenger said, “I’d get a clutch in my stomach when I read it… My reasoning was, if they put that card on the plate, they must be worried that something bad was going to happen. If they’re worried, I’m worried.”

It reminds me of the study to test the efficacy of prayer in which the test group that was being prayed for did worse than the unprayed for control group because they thought that if others were praying for them, that must mean they were really sick and they became dispirited.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    If you really want supernatural protection in mid-air, fly the Nepalese national airline. According to stories going around a few years back, their maintenance crews wrap up major overhauls by sacrificing goats.

    That extra attention to detail provides a wonderful sense of security.

  2. David says

    That quote was hilarious. I’ve long hated flying and all this security theatre has just made it worse. The last time I had to fly (2009), I went to my doctor and he prescribed me a sedative. That was far better relief, I assure you, than any prayer.

  3. Greg P. says

    And of course Sarah Palin was quick to weigh in on the subject:

    Huffington Post

    She claims that non-believers shouldn’t be offended by prayer cards, since believers simply ignore all the “tawdry ads and billboards.” Quite ironic, since she’s been one of the foremost culture warriors.

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