On a Wing and a Prayer: Alaska Airlines Loses Its Religion

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Alaska Airlines Ditches Prayer Cards

What’s that in the sky? It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s — well…it’s certainly not Christ.

A couple of weeks ago Alaska Airlines announced they were doing away with a 30-year old tradition – offering prayer cards with in-flight meals.

Yes. They jettisoned Jesus.

Alaska Airlines prayer cards

Seems most passengers nowadays prefer their snacks a little more secular. Much like the separation of church and state, it’s the separation of church and plate.

Personally, I’d much rather have seen the removal of the Sky Mall magazine. I find that much more offensive. Give me a Psalm any day over having this shoved down my throat…

Toilet dog and cat water bowl

Or, even worse, this…

Madamoiselle floor lamp

But there you have it. Materialism trumps Catechism.

The Prayer Card Pickle

I feel bad for Alaska Airlines. They can’t win with this one. Keep the prayer cards, and be seen as a conservative dinosaur. Lose the cards, and be seen as anti-Christ (not the Antichrist, just anti-Christ – see the difference a hyphen makes?)

In times of moral crisis like this, I look to bumper-sticker theology to guide me.

WWJD What Would Jesus Do bumper sticker

That’s a head-scratcher for sure. If Jesus took the wheel (or in this case, the yoke), what would Jesus do? I’m hoping (dare I say praying) J.C. would come up with a solution that would be suitable for everyone. After all, he was winning friends and influencing people long before that other guy. And hasn’t he had some prior success with feeding the masses? That whole fishes and loaves bit?

Maybe he would have conjured up something like Indonesia-based airline Lion Air has done: multi-denominational Invocation Cards. Every seat pocket has one of these prayer pamphlets, wedged somewhere between the safety instructions and the barf bag.

Lion Air Invocation Prayer Card, Indonesia

Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Confucianists are treated to one-of-a-kind prayers (in five languages) imploring their deity to shepherd the craft safely to its final destination.

Lion Air Indonesia Invocation Prayer Card front side alternative to Alaska Airlines prayer card

Lion Air Indonesia Invocation Prayer Card inside Alaska Airlines

Muslims get showered with blessings…

Lion Air Invocation Prayer card on plane -- Islam Alaska Airlines

…Catholics get good weather…

Lion Air Invocation Prayer card on plane -- Catholic Alaska Airlines

…and Protestants get a Lord with a “holly” name. Plus the added bonus that they arrive on time and “save”. (I hope I didn’t pay more for the flight than they did.)

Lion Air Invocation Prayer card on plane -- Protestant Alaska Airlines

Rounding out the Invocation Card are prayers for Buddhists…

Lion Air Invocation Prayer card on plane -- Buddhism Alaska Airlines

…Hindus…

Lion Air Invocation Prayer card on plane -- Hinduism Alaska Airlines

…and Confucianists.

Lion Air Invocation Prayer card on plane -- Khonghucu Alaska Airlines

Did I get offended when I saw these? Not in the least. (There was the S.E. Asian equivalent of a Sky Mall magazine to draw my ire). Much like how I don’t get offended when I see where Mecca is on my in-flight screen, or if I see a Gideon bible in my hotel room drawer, I just see it as someone else expressing their faith.

Airplane TV showing direction of Mecca Alaska Airlines

Some people find comfort in those things. I find it kind of folksy. If the airline crew were baptizing people in the aisles, or handing out communion wafers, that might be a different story. But I think a Psalm here, a prayer card there are perfectly okay in my books.

My God. I’m starting to sound a lot like Sarah Palin.

Pray for me?

What’s your take? Do you think Alaska Airlines was right to remove the prayer cards from flights? Is there a better solution?

I am a travel blogger and freelance travel writer. I left behind my cubicle-shaped cell to see the world. Now I inspire others to shake the shackles and escape through travel. This is my blog.

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