*Editor’s note: This post has been updated with a statement from NASA.
It’s one thing for President Barack Obama to task NASA with reaching out to the Muslim community, but it’s a whole other ball of wax when Christian employees complain they are being censored by the agency.
The employees, represented by The Liberty Institute, say they are victims of religious discrimination and are threatening to sue after the religious club was allegedly told to stop using the name “Jesus” in meeting announcements in the agency’s employee newsletter, according to a statement from the religious liberty advocacy and legal defense organization.
The claim certainly fits the Obama administration’s modus operandi.
The praise and worship club, in existence since 2001, meets at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to “discuss matters of the Christian faith and sing Christian songs,” The Liberty Institute noted.
In the statement, Jeremy Dys, senior counsel for Liberty Institute, called on NASA to stop discriminating against the Christian employees and apologize.
“It is illegal for the government to censor the name of Jesus from emails authored by employees,” Dys said. “Preventing a religious club’s announcement just because it contains the name ‘Jesus’ is blatant religious discrimination. We call on NASA to end their censorship and apologize.”
One of the employees affected, Sophia Smith, said the group was “shocked that NASA would censor the name of Jesus from our Praise and Worship Club’s announcement.”
“NASA has a long history of allowing religious speech by employees,” Smith added. “In fact, in 1968, Apollo 8 astronauts read from the Bible while they were orbiting the moon, and it was broadcast on TV. So why would they ban ‘Jesus’ from our announcements?”
That reading Smith speaks of can be seen here:
BizPac Review was contacted Tuesday by a NASA representative to include an official statement from NASA regarding this issue:
“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 employees’ own time. Consistent with federal law, NASA attempts to balance employees’ 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.”