The Atheist Who Silenced the Astronaut
When we talk about “taking back the culture,” people get apprehensive and worry that we are trying to overthrow our republican form of government and form a theocracy. The reality is something a lot less ambitious. Those of us who grew up in post-1960’s America don’t always fully grasp how much we have lost since that turbulent decade because we’ve always lived in a world where radical atheists have enjoyed influence and a degree of social acceptance. We forget that it wasn’t always this way and that the scrubbing of religion — Christianity in particular — from American public life is a relatively new phenomenon.
In a recent blog post, Eric Metaxas shared the little-known story of astronaut Buzz Aldrin taking communion on the surface of the moon:
The background to the story is that Aldrin was an elder at his Presbyterian Church in Texas during this period in his life, and knowing that he would soon be doing something unprecedented in human history, he felt he should mark the occasion somehow, and he asked his pastor to help him. And so the pastor consecrated a communion wafer and a small vial of communion wine. And Buzz Aldrin took them with him out of the Earth’s orbit and on to the surface of the moon.
I am just old enough to remember our family gathered around the black and white TV, my dad adjusting the antennae, as we watched man’s first steps on the moon. An unprecedented 125 million Americans tuned in to watch the fearsome event on TV — it wasn’t a given that the men would survive outside the lunar module or that they would make it back to Earth. William Safire had prepared a speech for President Nixon to deliver in the event of a disaster and protocols were established for contacting the wives of the astronauts in case the unthinkable happened.
Even after they returned to earth, the astronauts remained in quarantine for 21 days in compliance with the recently passed Extra-Terrestrial Exposure Law.
It was a perilous mission, one for which President Nixon called Americans to pray:
Apollo 11 is on its way to the moon. It carries three brave astronauts; it also carries the hopes and prayers of hundreds of millions of people…That moment when man first sets foot on a body other than earth will stand through the centuries as one supreme in human experience…I call upon all of our people…to join in prayer for the successful conclusion of Apollo 11‘s mission.