A Christmas Card from Outer Space PDF Print E-mail
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Written by The Rutherford Institute   
Tuesday, 18 December 2012 15:51
On December 21, 1968, the Apollo 8 spaceship blasted its way through the earth's atmosphere to begin the first U.S. mission to orbit the moon—a mission that would set the stage for the first moon landing less than a year later. On board were astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders. By Christmas Eve, the Apollo 8 had begun to orbit the moon. 

Borman, who had planned to participate in the Christmas service at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in League City, Texas, arranged with an engineer at mission control to read a short prayer that could be played for the church. During the third lunar revolution, Borman read:
Give us, O God, the vision which can see thy love in the world, in spite of human failure. Give us the faith to trust the goodness in spite of our ignorance and weakness. Give us the knowledge that we may continue to pray with understanding hearts, and show us what each one of us can do to set forth the coming of the day of universal peace. Amen.
“Amen,” echoed the engineer back on earth.
During the ninth lunar revolution, the astronauts pointed their camera at the moon so that those on earth could get a glimpse of its cratered surface. Then they read the story of the creation from the Bible, as told in the first 10 verses of the Book of Genesis: “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”

As writer Mike Wright observed, “The Bible reading, with all three astronauts taking part, drew both intense joy and intense dissent.” Acting NASA administrator Dr. Thomas D. Paine called it “the triumph of the squares—the guys with computers and slide-rulers who read the Bible on Christmas Eve.”

One of the most vocal critics was the infamous atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the woman credited with getting prayer taken out of public schools. In a 1963 decision in Abington School District v. Schempp, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that schools could not require students to read passages from the Bible or recite the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each school day. In response to the Christmas Eve scripture reading from space, O’Hair remarked, “I think the astronauts were not only ill advised but that it was a tragic situation...that they should read portions of the Genesis Bible which is accepted by a very minor number of persons in the total world.”

Minor or not, the Bible reading cut through the political haze and sent a strong message to those glued to their radios and TV sets—a message of hope in a torn and ravaged world. And before signing off, the crew of the Apollo 8 sent a final message back to earth: “We pause with good night, good luck and God bless all of you-all of you on the good earth,” which apparently included Madalyn Murray O’Hair, whether she liked it or not.

And so ended what had been a tumultuous year that saw the Tet offensive launched by the North Vietnamese; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy assassinated; and disenchanted citizens from Paris to Chicago taking to the streets in revolt.

This year, with its heart-wrenching tragedies in the schools and elsewhere, has been no less tumultuous. We’ve had kids getting micro-chipped in the public schools. Congress, the courts and the White House working in cahoots to erode our privacy rights. The Transportation Security Administration fumbling its way through national security. Hurricane Sandy ravaging the Eastern shore. The police state merging with the surveillance state to keep us tagged, tracked and under control. The military industrial complex lobbying to keep the nation at war and defense contractors in the money. Individuals getting fined and arrested for violating any number of vague and overreaching laws. Homes getting raided and innocent Americans killed by rampaging SWAT teams armed to the hilt.

Through it all, The Rutherford Institute has remained strong, vibrant and incredibly relevant, despite a growing caseload and limited resources. However, as you will see from this month’s Faith and Freedom newsletter, we could not do what we do without the prayers, friendship and support of individuals like you. We accomplished a great deal in 2012, and with your continued support, we will be able to continue our vital mission of restoring and preserving our civil liberties well into 2013.

So thank you, and God bless you, for giving what you can, when you are able, time and time again. Thank you for believing that freedom is worth fighting for. And thank you for your prayers for our guidance, protection and perseverance. As we remember all the battles you’ve helped us through this year and anticipate the ones waiting on the horizon, we pray that God will bless you and your loved ones, both now and in the year to come.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
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