Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
The new fascism: Lawyers at NASA have ruled that the agency has the right to ban the use of the word “Jesus” in any email written by employees.
In a letter sent Monday, the Liberty Institute stated that NASA lawyers pressured a group of employees at the Johnson Space Center to remove the word “Jesus” from a club announcement. This demand took place in May and June of 2015.
These employees had formed a private group within the agency called the JSC Praise and Worship Club, an entity separate from the agency. As part of the group, employees meet together during lunch to pray, and no one is prevented from taking part in the group’s activities. In an announcement email, one of the employees had used the word “Jesus.” A few days after the email went out, NASA lawyers clamped down and said the use of the word was absolutely unacceptable and would not accept the group’s offer to issue any kind of disclaimer to downplay its use.
NASA is now going to be sued by these individuals, as the agency is clearly acting to deny them their first amendment rights. And NASA deserves to be sued, and to lose badly in court. It is absurd that those NASA lawyers can construe the writing of the word “Jesus” by a single employee as an endorsement by the agency of that religion. These same lawyers would have also acted to ban the Apollo 8 astronauts from reading from the Old Testament while in orbit around the Moon in 1968. They are thus no different than the Soviet overlords with whom we were fighting the Cold War at the time.