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Alaska Airlines discontinues prayer cards

Alaska Airlines is discontinuing a 30-year-old tradition of placing prayer cards on meal trays in order to "respect the diverse religious beliefs and cultural attitudes" of their customers and employees, reports Baptist Press.

The cards, which featured verses from the Book of Psalms printed over serene landscapes, were meant to put passengers at ease, Reuters reported, and for the past six years were distributed only to first class passengers because meal service was halted in coach.

In a letter to customers, the airline's CEO, Bill Ayer, and president, Brad Tilden, said the "difficult" decision was not made lightly.

"Religious beliefs are deeply personal and sharing them with others is an individual choice," the officials wrote.

Bobbie Egan, a spokeswoman for Alaska Airlines, told Reuters the company's leaders decided that eliminating the cards was "simply the right thing to do."

"Over the years, we've received comments from customers who were comforted by the card, but many others felt as though religion was not appropriate on an airplane and preferred not to receive one," Egan said. "We've seen an uptick in the number of passengers who just simply don't appreciate getting a prayer card on the meal tray."

One of the airline's most notable customers, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, was among those who objected to the prayer cards decision.

"It feels so odd that some may be offended by a little card with an encouraging non-denominational verse from the Psalms, but how often do we hear complaints about tawdry ads or billboard images flashing at us everywhere we turn?" Palin wrote on her Facebook page.

"People of faith and common decency just shrug and move on from the constant assault on their sensibilities; we don't call for censorship -- at least I don't," Palin added. "So, why in this day and age must every reference to faith in God be censored from the public square? Why must a private company buckle under pressure from a handful of people who find a little card saying 'the Lord is my shepherd' offensive? I'm sure there are many more people who appreciate the cards, or at least are ambivalent about them."

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Christian Telegraph