The name of Jesus is not welcome in the Johnson Space Center newsletter, according to a complaint filed on behalf of a group of Christians who work for NASA. The JSC Praise & Worship Club was directed by NASA attorneys to refrain from using the name ‘Jesus’ in club announcements that appeared in a Space Center newsletter.
FOX News It was shocking to all of us and very frustrating,” NASA engineer Sophia Smith told me. “NASA has a long history of respecting religious speech. Why wouldn’t they allow us to put the name Jesus in the announcement about our club?”
Liberty Institute, one of the nation’s largest religious liberty law firms, threatened to file a federal lawsuit unless NASA apologizes and stops censoring the name ‘Jesus’.
The JSC Today newsletter is distributed electronically and includes a number of Space Center events – from salsa dancing lessons to soccer camp. NASA issued a statement late Monday – that did not refute Liberty Institute’s charge.
“NASA does not prohibit the use of any specific religious names in employee newsletters or other internal communications. The agency allows a host of employee-led civic, professional, religious and other organizations to meet on NASA property on employee’s own time.
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. We believe in and encourage open and diverse dialogue among our employees and across the agency.”
Since 2001, employees had gathered during their lunch hour to pray and sing and read the Bible. There had been no censorship issues until last year.
Liberty Institute attorney Jeremy Dys told me the club had placed an announcement in the Space Center’s newsletter – announcing the theme of their meeting, “Jesus is our life.” “Soon after that, the legal department called the organizers and told them they could not use the name Jesus in their announcements,” Dys told me. “They said, no Jesus.”
The club’s leadership was told that “NASA would be censoring all future club announcements that featured the name, ‘Jesus’,” Liberty Institute alleged in its complaint letter.
NASA’s legal department explained that including the name ‘Jesus’ within the club’s announcement made that announcement “sectarian” or “denominational.” They also alleged such announcements would cause NASA to violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
“NASA Administrator Charles Bolden created a firestorm after telling Al Jazeera in June 2010 that President Obama told him before he took the job that he wanted him to do three things:
1 – Inspire children to learn math and science
2 – Expand international relationships and
3 – ‘Perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science … and math and engineering.’ (CRAP!)