NASA has banned the word Jesus from a space centre newsletter according to a complaint by US lawyers on behalf of a Christian group.
The group of Christian employees, Johnson Space Center Praise & Worship club, included the phrase “Jesus is our life” in an advert for their weekly meeting in a newsletter that was emailed to all employees at the Johnson Space Centre, Houston.
NASA lawyers informed the Christian club leaders at the space centre in Houston, Texas, that using Jesus' name made the announcement sectarian and denominational and including it in an agency newsletter was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.
“It was shocking to us all and very frustrating,” NASA engineer Sophia Smith told Fox News. “NASA has a long history of respecting religious speech. Why wouldn’t they allow us to the put the name of Jesus in the announcement about our club.”
Jeremy Dys, a lawyer for the Liberty Institute which has filed a complaint to NASA on behalf of the Johnson Space Center Praise & Worship Club, said: “It is illegal for the government to censor the name of Jesus from emails authored by employees.
“Preventing a religious club's announcement just because it contains the name 'Jesus' is blatant religious discrimination. We call on NASA to end their censorship and apologise.”
NASA issued a statement on Monday saying that they were just following federal law in banning Jesus from the newsletter.
“NASA does not prohibit the use of any specific religious names in employee newsletters or other internal communications,” a NASA spokesman said. “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.”
In 1968, the crew of Apollo 8 read the creation story as they orbited the moon. And the following year Buzz Aldrin received communion on the surface of the moon.