Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Apollo 11's communion on the moon, and Madelyn Murray O'Hair

Apollo 8 (1968) was the first human spaceflight to leave Earth orbit; the first to be captured by and escape from the gravitational field of another celestial body; and the first crewed voyage to return to planet Earth from another celestial body—Earth's Moon. The three-man American crew of mission Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders became the first humans to directly see the far side of the Moon, as well as the first humans to see planet Earth from beyond low Earth orbit. (Wikipedia). It must have made quite an impression on the three astronauts to see our globe hung in space as a tiny dot, and to ponder the mysteries of the heavens. On Christmas Eve, Frank Borman sent a message to the people on earth. Please take a moment to watch this moving, 2-minute clip:



A few years prior to the momentous and quite spiritual event taking place above the moon at earth-rise, Madelyn Murray O'Hair lodged a lawsuit at the Supreme Court in 1960 that was decided  in 1962. O'Hair was a well-known atheist, communist, free-thinker and sexual libertine. O'Hair's suit contended that prayer must be removed from public schools. Actually, there were one or two suits being decided prior to O'Hair's but her suit was in fact folded into a seminal judgment banning bible readings from public schools, closely on the heels of the ban on prayer in schools rendered a few months prior.  She took credit for the "victory", anyway. So thanks to her, on June 25, 1962, "39 million students were forbidden to do what they and their predecessors had been doing since the founding of our nation – publicly calling upon the name of the Lord at the beginning of each school day." When Borman read the passage from Genesis in 1968, O'Hair again lodged a lawsuit, this time against NASA. O'Hair wanted the courts to ban US astronauts, who were all Government employees, from public prayer in outer space.

A few months later, on July 20, 1969, Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon and he held a ceremony: the ceremony of communion. Please take a moment to watch the following 2-minute clip, from Tom Hanks' Emmy award winning HBO series "From the Earth to the Moon" that accurately depicts the moment:



O'Hair's Genesis-reading case was eventually rejected by the US Supreme Court for lack of jurisdiction. However, what comes to mind here was the tragedy of those few intervening months. Between the reading of Genesis on Christmas eve 1968 and 7 months later when Aldrin took communion on the moon, Christianity went from boldly declaring God as the Creator of all the Universe, to a timid and secretive religious homage to that same Creator, with an added lukewarm thank you to whomever. After he clicked off the radio, Aldrin read: "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5). How fitting! But how sad it was only heard by Armstrong and Aldrin. Aldrin's choice of verse acknowledged the Creator of the planet upon which they were sitting as the One who is the Source of all endeavors. Yet O'Hair's impact was such that this declaration of truth was muzzled and silenced.

O'Hair's legacy was such that for a while she was called the most hated woman in America. Apparently, not only in America. She and her two children traveled via ship to Europe with the intention of defecting to the Soviet embassy in Paris and residing in the Soviet Union. The Soviets denied them entry. She founded American Atheists, promoted sexual liberation for children, and campaigned against God all her life. She even called her own son a "postnatal abortion."

Sadly, she was abducted and killed, dismembered and her head chopped off. Her remains were not discovered for many years. Her son said that O'Hair was an evil person. "My mother was an evil person... Not for removing prayer from America's schools... No, she was just evil. She stole huge amounts of money. She misused the trust of people. She cheated children out of their parents' inheritance. She cheated on her taxes and even stole from her own organizations. She once printed up phony stock certificates on her own printing press to try to take over another atheist publishing company....Regardless of how evil and lawless my mother was she did not deserve to die in the manner she did."

Her son is a Christian, baptised, and a Baptist preacher. I can't imagine his pain, and his certain knowledge that his mother has much to answer for and will reside forever in torment in hell, apart from Jesus.

But if this one woman wreaked such havoc on America so as to remove prayer from before 40 million school children, from stopping the globe's premier space agency from broadcasting one bible verse, and getting her message out on television, cable, and radio to millions over the course of decades, what can one Christian do? Much! If we each remain strong in faith, always acknowledging Him for all that we are and all that we accomplish as Borman and Aldrin did, then nothing is impossible. If such evil can accomplish so much, what can Good do? Pray and ask Him how you might be used today. And be ready for His answer!


2 comments:

  1. Wow, I had no idea they read scripture!! That was an eye opener for me! thanks for sharing that

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  2. Aldrin was at the time a Presbyterian elder, I think he still is. I wonder how the astronauts fared if they were atheist...and how the space experience affected them. In any case, I'm proud of the Apollo 8 & 11 crews who shared God with the world and with each other in the midst of their amazing journey

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