Worship Club was directed by NASA attorneys to refrain from using the name “Jesus” in club announcements that appeared in the Johnson Space Center Newsletter. In response, the Liberty Institute, a religious liberty law firm, filed a complaint with NASA on behalf of its Christian employees.
NASA issued a statement late Monday:
“NASA does not prohibit the use of any specific religious names in employee newsletters or other internal communications. The agency allows a host of employee-led civic, professional, religious and other organizations to meet on NASA property on employee’s own time. Consistent with federal law, NASA attempts to balance employee’s rights to freely exercise religious beliefs with its obligation to ensure there is no government endorsement of religion. We believe in and encourage open and diverse dialogue among our employees and across the agency.”
Despite this release, NASA still told the club that “NASA would be censoring all future club announcements that featured the name, ‘Jesus.’”
NASA engineer Sophia Smith told Starnes, “It was shocking to all of us and very frustrating. NASA has a long history of respecting religious speech. Why wouldn’t they allow us to put the name Jesus in the announcement about our club?”
This is the first instance of censorship this Christian club has experienced in the fifteen years of its existence.
Starnes reports that the Liberty Institute “threatened to file a federal lawsuit unless NASA apologizes and stops censoring the name ‘Jesus’.”
NASA’s legal department claims that using the name “Jesus” within the (Christian) club’s announcement qualified it as a “sectarian” or “denominational” announcement, which NASA argues violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. And the Liberty Institute argues that NASA’s action, is “blatant religious discrimination.”
Consider this notable shift of NASA policy in light of the fact that NASA has previously honored the religious faith of its employees, not to mention two notable events:
- December 24, 1968 – the Apollo 8 crew read the Creation story in Genesis — of the Bible– while they orbited the moon. Astronauts Jim Lovell, Frank Borman and Bill Anders took turns reading from the Bible.
- Apollo 11 1969: Astronaut Buzz Aldrin received communion on the lunar surface.
God’s story is evidenced throughout creation, in the stars, the galaxies and while orbiting and even landing on the moon. How ironic that the sole organization in America capable of bringing human beings to the moon refuses to allow them to recognize the author and creator of it.
The reading of the Creation story by Apollo 8’s crew is remarkable especially while viewing the moon– from space.
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Written by Bethany Blankley