When American astronauts became the first humans to step foot on the Moon, it was followed by a religious moment – but NASA didn’t broadcast it over fears of litigation – find out what actually happened.
July 20 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 and Eagle lunar module landing at the Sea of tranquility on the Moon.
After the Eagle lunar module touched down on the moon, US astronaut Buzz Aldrin made a request to the ground crew at mission control on Earth, “I would like to request a few moments of silence.”
“I would like to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever he may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his own individual way,” Aldrin added.
The words and actions of Aldrin after that moment of his silent prayer were not broadcast to the people of Earth.
Aldrin then opened the Bible and read from the New Testament book of John. “I am the vine and you are the branches. The one who remains in Me, and I in him, will bear much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.” (Joun 15:5)
Following reciting the Scripture, Aldrin then opened two small packages. One contained consecrated bread the other blessed wine from his church in Texas. Then, Aldrin took communion, as astronaut Neal Armstrong looked on in silence.
The first food ever prepared or consumed on the Moon were the Body and Blood of Christ. “In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup,” Aldrin later recalled.
Although Aldrin expected his prayer and communion to be broadcast to Earth, NASA decided to silence the moment. It was all because an atheist was already suing the space agency and NASA wanted to avoid doing anything that would exacerbate the ongoing legal battle.
Seven months earlier, a woman named Madalyn Murray O’Hair had sued NASA over the agency broadcasting the Apollo 8 astronauts reading from the book of Genesis during a lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, as she felt it was in violation of the constitutional separation of church and state.
As the legal fight raged on, NASA decided broadcasting Aldrin’s religious speech would potentially further jeopardize its own legal position.
President John F. Kennedy, who supported America winning the “space race” against the Soviet Union, talked about God during a 1962 speech. The speech is known as his famous “we choose to go to the moon” speech.
In his concluding words, Kennedy asked “God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.”