The Secret Communion on the Moon: The 44-Year Anniversary

  • Share
  • Read Later
NASA/TIME&LIFE/Getty Images

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin standing on moon, with astronaut Neil Armstrong & lunar module reflected in helmet visor, during his historic first walk on the lunar surface.

The date, July 20, 1969, will forever be known as the day the United States of America put the first man on the moon. What most people do not know is the date also marks when Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin celebrated the first and only Lord’s Supper on the moon, a fact the U.S. government refused to make public at the time.

Inside the lunar module, just hours before stepping onto the moon for the first time, Aldrin radioed Houston Space Center Mission Control. He asked for a few moments of silence “to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way.”

In that moment of silence that followed, Aldrin silently read a passage from the book of John that he had written out on a 3×5 card: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me.” Then he took out the miniature chalice and bread and wine from his personal allowance pouch. “I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me,” he told Guideposts magazine in 1970. “In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements.” Neil Armstrong, the other astronaut onboard, did not participate.

But that was not Aldrin’s original plan—he had wanted to celebrate communion on the air with the rest of his comments, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was not happy about it. Just months earlier, the Apollo 8 astronauts broadcast parts of the Biblical creation narrative from the book of Genesis while orbiting the moon on Christmas Eve: “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. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” Atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair sued, arguing that the astronauts were government employees and therefore their actions violated the separation of church and state. The Supreme Court dismissed the case—for lack of jurisdiction—but it created enough of a stir that NASA wanted to avoid any such distractions from their missions. When Aldrin, a devout Presbyterian, told NASA flight operations coordinator Deke Slayton of his plan to celebrate communion during the live broadcast, Slayton told him to stand down. “No, that’s not a good idea, Buzz,” Slayton told him, according to Adrin’s memoir Magnificent Desolation. “Go ahead and have communion, but keep your comments more general.”

Aldrin later questioned his own decision to celebrate the Christian practice. “Perhaps if I had it to do over again, I would not choose to celebrate communion,” he wrote in his memoir. “Although it was a deeply meaningful experience for me, it was a Christian sacrament, and we had come to the moon in the name of all mankind—be they Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, agnostics, or atheists. But at the time I could think of no better way to acknowledge the enormity of the Apollo 11 experience than by giving thanks to God.”

Webster Presbyterian Church—Aldrin’s church in Houston that supplied him with the bread and the wine for the unique occasion—still celebrates the lunar communion every year on the Sunday closest to July 20.

68 comments
RustyYates
RustyYates

We must pull out bronze age myths after riding a space age machine built on science principles and thank an imaginary father figure for all the work and research by thousands of people who would love an acknowledgement.  Now somebody please quote a bible verse at me so that I will fall to my knees, repent and dedicate my life to Jesus as always happen when you quote magic verses.

ReisenLoverBoy
ReisenLoverBoy

There is absolutely wrong concepts of separations of Church and States as to how Europe were under Papal influence and rule since after Rome broke into ten different nations this Archbishop of Rome was given to rule both the government while being leader of the church. This was the situation and cause for concern in the US when this "separation between Church and State"... But that doesn't mean you don't have to have a religion or faith! Atheists are so manipulative and opportunistic to make the government something like them just because of this two divided power. Yet if you take away religion in a community it will be just like Communism's abusive and cold blooded rule. Being too opposite is also bad, the Papal system and Communism. This is why you have to have balanced system and the separation of Church and State is even based on the Bible when Christ say "what is Caesar is Caesar and what is God is Gods".

Suzana
Suzana

+JMJ

 The problem with all discussions that involve the Church, or any religious group, and the State is that people wrongly understand the First Amendment. This is most likely that they  have never actually read it... and simply join in with the sophist expression, "Separation of Church and State".  This is simply an ignorant tenet that is not truly part of the Constitution.  Yet, because people generally do not like history, they do not bother to read a historical document such as the US Constitution.

In addition to the comments made about 'Separation of Church and State", I think that it would benefit everybody if we got out the history books on Mohammed and the birth of Islam... and then the spread of Islam from 632 with his death until 710 when Islam invaded Spain and Portugal.  It is not a nice story.  The years after Islam entered Europe right up to the First Crusade are also very expository reading of militant Islam.  Then one might rethink their opinion of the Crusades.  Theoretically, without the Crusades... we all might be kneeling on a prayer rug right now and facing Mecca.  

To better understand what is going on in the Middle East right now, especially why we need to protect Israel... read up on the history.  We all need to be better informed when we post comments.  I have learned that from mistakes I made in the past, having been corrected on a misnomer I made in a posted comment.

LizRodgers
LizRodgers

@cent-fan Moslems use donkeys for transportation.  When some brilliant  Islamic country can make it to the moon on their own, they are welcome to bow to Mecca.

cent-fan
cent-fan

I'm curious if anyone on the space station missions has ever put out the rug and bowed to the East (although Mecca might be hard to find without a computer update by the second).  I'm sure if that ever came to light the "true" Christians would scream to have the space station shot out of the sky... in His mercy...

But all in all, whatever.  Buzz was humbled and tried to get through with Team God on his side.

deesis
deesis

This is just a stupid and blasphemous story. How could Buzz celebrate communion when he isn't an ordained minister of the Presbyterian  sect.  How can he claim he celebrated  sacrament? He simply mimicked something he half understands. I think it slightly un hinged and certainly shows he doesn't grasp Presbyterian beliefs.

mary.waterton
mary.waterton

4th paragraph:  Atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair sued, arguing that the astronauts were government employees and therefore their actions violated the separation of church and state. The Supreme Court dismissed the case—for lack of jurisdiction—but it created enough of a stir that NASA wanted to avoid any such distractions from their missions.


Just goes to prove that Atheists are A-holes.

baronhas
baronhas

I am not a Presbyterian but remain respectful of Mr Aldrin's sincere expression of gratitude to his Maker for such an important event in the most solemn way possible, in his own mind.

I am also aware of how a high percentage of high achievers are people of devout faith, no matter their religious affiliation. When people devote their efforts to the Supreme Being their achievement levels run very high.  


merubin75
merubin75

Regardless of your religious or atheist POV, you have to give Buzz credit for taking a brief moment to reflect on the awesomeness of fhe moment.

In the middle of one of Humankind's greatest achievements, he had the personal wherewithal to take a step back and take a reflective moment. All of the technical achievement would not have been possible without the millennia of humans who looked up in the sky and dreamed. And he expressed gratitude in a simple, humble, thoughtful, inclusive way.

That's quite a thing to do when having done something so momentous. But it's totally, absolutely 100% the human thing to do.

in addition, I'm proud of the way Buzz made the prayer universal. It was not in Jesus's name, or God's, or addressed to a Father. I'm Jewish, and while I would not have been offended if he had, I have so much more respect for him because he didn't.

Bravo, Buzz. Thank you for being such a classy representative of Humanity.

mstrdiver
mstrdiver

And have we really gone so far backwards that someone cannot practice his or her own faith without it being brought into court UNLESS it appears to be one of the 'fringe' practices?  In our PC practices to be all inclusive, we now have the few controlling the many.

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

"man on the moon" - this is hardly

It is impossible to deny that the Americans was the mission of the flight to the moon. We were there before. Soil samples from the moon coincided with our samples. This proves that Americans, too, was a flight to the moon - you can be proud of.  But in terms of manned flight and landing a man  is a bluff, which was filmed in Hollywood. Any conspiracy theories on this subject in the United States even more than in Russia. Once, the secrets will be revealed. To wait remained not for long.



Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

***

Где-то в вечной бесконечности,

В пространстве, во времени, вечности,

Есть галактический простор -

Из звёзд гигантский там узор.

А у землян есть давняя мечта -

Она заветна, дерзновенна, непроста:

Увидеть жизнь хотят других планет.

И то - не тайна, не большой секрет.

Но чтоб мечты достичь, необходим язык особый,

Который многие века назад возник.

Какой язык секретный код содержит?

Какой язык своим богатством блещет?

И для какого языка преград на свете нет?

Какой язык ракетой может ввысь подняться?

Какому языку нас защитить удастся?

Великий тот язык зовётся русским,

И говорил на нём с Вселенной парень русый.

Гагарин - это имя знает вся планета,

Он первым русским стал, кто побывал у звёзд,

И первым нам частичку космоса привёз.

Так будет русский первым языком Вселенной,

Бездонной, безграничной и нетленной!

All cosmonauts flying on on our rockets are obliged to know Russian. Because Russian - Первый Космический.

aristotle_dude
aristotle_dude

I'm glad that the supreme court of that day dismissed the case brought by Madalyn Murray O’Hair because they understood the purpose of the amendment. The purpose of the amendment was precisely as it was written: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;". The first part forbids the establishment of a state church. The second section prohibits laws which prevent the free exercise of religious beliefs which includes government employees. He was well within his rights as a citizen.

If you want people to stop hating on atheists then stop bring up lawsuits to prohibit the free exercise of the freedom of religion. Simply don't participate.

sacredh
sacredh

I'm not a fan of religion, but his actions are what I'll remember and not his personal views.

RolandA.Tolliver
RolandA.Tolliver

Would this then be considered, "Comoonion"? Just wondering.

roknsteve
roknsteve

Anyone who thinks they're eating the body of Jesus is the same as a cannibal.  Plus Jesus (Yeshua) means servant.  It's a title, not a proper name.  And finally, there is no Nazareth on any ancient maps or in the Old Testament.  Do you really think the Romans would allow 1 city to be tax free?       

NP042
NP042

@deesis How can he claim he celebrated the sacrament?  Easily.  While I'm sure Presbyterians differ slightly from Catholics, every day at mass there will be Eucharistic ministers who take communion to those who cannot make it to mass.  How is it so difficult to assume that the minister at Aldrin's church likely performed the main parts of the sacrament at church and Aldrin consumed that on the moon?


Really? Unhinged?

EirikKjalnesSørvik
EirikKjalnesSørvik

@mary.waterton Excuse me?! Is suing to maintain the seperation of church and state worse than, say, bombing abortion clinics, or killing doctors for the same reason, despite claiming to be pro-life? Is it worse than picketing funerals, like the WBC does? Is it worse than suicide bombers, or the crusades? 

I would never dream of stating that all religious folk are a-holes because of these things... 

That remark was incredibly unchristian of you... you should go have a think about the way your piety manifests itself. 

roknsteve
roknsteve

@merubin75 There's no law against performing primitive ceremonies on the moon.  And if you don't consider them primitive i would remind you that the christians who started them also burned all the ancient libraries to destroy the origins of their religion.  And destroyed most of the history of the world.  It reminds of another cult of christian fanatics from Germany who also burned books over 70 years ago.  You need to wake up.  

merubin75
merubin75

That's precisely how our system was designed. James Madison, writing in Federalist Oaper #10, talked expressly how the Bill of Rights was meant to protect a minority ("the few" as you call them) from what he called "the tyranny of the majority."

Bottom line: we do not govern ourselves by the maxim "majority rules." That may be what governs the playground, but it is not what governs our republic.

deesis
deesis

@aristotle_dude 

I suggest we burn all the bibles, dissolve all governments and constitutions worldwide so we can all worship and kneel before the American Constitution. There was no truth or wisdom before it and it is the centre of the universe!

RobertHoward
RobertHoward

@aristotle_dude Except he wasn't a citizen - he was a government employee working in an official capacity as a memebr of the government.

If you want atheists and other religions to stop acting like you're trying to force their religion on everyone else, then STOP DOING IT.

jmac
jmac

@aristotle_dude "Aldrin later questioned his own decision to celebrate the Christian practice. "

Aldrin was right to question what he did.   He was right that he represented all mankind and we're made up of many different religions and none  belivers.   That's no longer true of the Republican party, and it's hurting them deeply.   A religion should never take over a political party or a nation.  "If you want people to stop hating on . . ."  Christians, then remember that we all should have the freedom to not have a religion forced upon us, a dude.   No one was stopping him from practicing his religion - he could have done it privately -  where it belongs.  

deesis
deesis

@roknsteve 

When I read nonsense like this I think "spot the American!" The land with no past, no thinking and no future. By all means have an opinion but let it be an opinion with having! Read widely and say little.

baronhas
baronhas

@roknsteve 

We don't care what you think!  The truth continues to exist without your personal sanction of it.

DanBruce
DanBruce

@roknsteve Congratulations! In one small paragraph, you have revealed your deficiencies in Christian theology, the Hebrew and Aramaic languages, and ancient geography of ancient Israel.

Suzana
Suzana

@EirikKjalnesSørvik@mary.waterton

 I am sorry that Mary chose to use such unkind language in her post, verbally assassinating Atheists. As a Catholic, I believe that Faith is a gift from God, available to all people.  Why some do not believe is a mystery.  We believers, if we are honest with ourselves, should simply be thankful that we believe.

That said, there is a very big misinterpretation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.  Read it and it is obvious that it does not say ‘separation of Church and State.  Rather it protects all religions from the government imposing restriction upon a person’s free exercise of their religion.  The idea that the USA will have ‘No State Religion’, as is practiced in other countries, is the reasoning behind the clause.  BUT it was never intended to keep the Church from being an equal partner with the State within American society.

deesis
deesis

@roknsteve @merubin75 

I think you watch too many movies and should develop a real sense of scepticism when it comes to Hollywood! fact is always better than fiction!

baronhas
baronhas

@merubin75 

That has been the classic excuse for oligarchies and dictatorships.

aristotle_dude
aristotle_dude

@deesis @aristotle_dude No thanks. I prefer being a Canadian. We still have some right and freedoms here including freedom of religion. We don't have a distinct "separation of church and state" but we still manage to have freedom for other religions. I would say that a Dubai, a muslim country, seems to have more tolerance towards their christian minority among foreign workers than the US has for the christian majority.

aristotle_dude
aristotle_dude

@RobertHoward @aristotle_dude Wow. I guess the next thing you are going to say that government employees are not human either? What difference does it make who a person works for? I'm pretty sure that government employees are still citizens even when they are at work. Are you confusing civilian with citizen?

An employee is an individual, they are not "congress" and they are not passing laws.

steve_mc
steve_mc

@jmac@aristotle_dude About doing it privately, that's exactly how Jesus instructed his disciples to pray in Matthew 6:5-6, right before telling them the Lord's Prayer.

"And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

aristotle_dude
aristotle_dude

@jmac @aristotle_dude Your rights and privileges as a citizen do not disappear when you go to work so why should it be any different for an employee? You might lose your job for exercising your rights but again, the law never said that you were protected from losing your job but only protected from government interference.

RobertHoward
RobertHoward

@jmac"No one was stopping him from practicing his religion - he could have done it privately - where it belongs"

Exactly. And that's what he did. But leave it to the "persecuted" Christians in this country to cry about their rights being taken away. It's really quite sad.

roknsteve
roknsteve

@deesis @roknsteve You remind me of one of those people who stands at an intersection with a sign that says, "The End is Near."  

roknsteve
roknsteve

@baronhas @roknsteve I bet you with you could burn Google and Wikipedia too.  Let me guess, you're a conservative christian.  Wow, that was easy.   So if you rewrite history that means it never happened?  Thanks, As Clint Eastwood would say, "You've made my day." 

roknsteve
roknsteve

@Atomicboss_00 @roknsteve He was never born.  There was no such person.  He was a construct of many people who lived before him.  There was a man called Apolonious of the Greek island of Tyana who is documented to have performed many miracles.  He was a friend of Aristotle and that is also documented.  The Roman church murdered all his followers and destroyed all the records about him or so they thought.  That's the same reason the Roman church burned the ancient library at Alexandria in Egypt and we lost most of the history of the world.  Some religion of book burners, huh?        

roknsteve
roknsteve

@DanBruce @roknsteve And where's your links to prove me wrong?  You don't have any?  That's what I thought.  And as far as chirstian, hebrew or aramaic languages and theology goes, it's all a bunch of made up stories by hebrew nomads who had no culture, christian mystics who changed their stories every few years and fools who have been rewriting the so-called bible for 1700 years.  Get back to me after you've done 40 years of research.  

jmac
jmac

@DanBruce @roknsteve  "Yes, reason has been part of organized  religion  ever since nudists took advice from a talking snake."    Jon Stewart

The King James Version of the New Testament:    "21st Century Christians believe the 'Word of God' is a book edited in the 17th Century from 16th Century translations of 8,000 contradictory copies of 4th Century scrolls that claim to be copies of lost letters written in the first century.   That's not faith.   That's insanity."   

merubin75
merubin75

It's also the classic excuse for rule by mob (see French Revolution, circa 1792, aka "the Reign of Terror").

aristotle_dude
aristotle_dude

@RobertHoward @aristotle_dude Give me a break. You are confusing not establishing a state church which would require a law from congress with an employee of the government. A government working cannot make laws. They are just "working" there. You seem to be implying that they should be promoting atheism. Isn't that a bit hypocritical of you?

RobertHoward
RobertHoward

@aristotle_dude @RobertHoward - It makes a difference when someone is acting as an official government employee and advocating one religion over another. They are completely free to worship whatever imaginary being they want on their own time, but when acting as a government representative, they need to be neutral on the subject. Even Buzz Aldrin admits that in this story. Why is it so hard for you to comprehend?

Please go read up on all the Supreme Court cases and the writings of the Founding Fathers that support my point instead of yours.

aristotle_dude
aristotle_dude

@baronhas @jmac @aristotle_dude He is an atheist who is confused between time for personal prayer and meditation and corporate worship. Both can be done basically anywhere but worship requires more than one person as it is designed to be a social/community activity.

aristotle_dude
aristotle_dude

@steve_mc @jmac @aristotle_dude Worshiping is a group activity. Matthew 18:20: "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." There is a time for personal prayer and a time for corporate worship.

I have a feeling that you are an atheist so my words will fall on deaf ears but I felt the need to at least take the effort to enlighten you.

aristotle_dude
aristotle_dude

@RobertHoward @aristotle_dude You want to work on Sundays? Work somewhere that's open on Sundays. Chick-Fil-A is a privately held company and because of that, they can do anything they want. They could be open only ever other Wednesday if they wanted to. Do you understand that you don't have an absolute right to work for a company? Pick and choose.

RobertHoward
RobertHoward

@aristotle_dude Completely wrong. My rights are subject to my employers all the time. If I want to work for Chick-Fil-A, I have to agree to not work on Sundays. If I want to work for WalMart, I have to agree that I have no rights to a living wage or even common decency. But that's what you strive for, isn't it? As long as your employees worship your god, that's all that matters, right? 

fhmadvocat
fhmadvocat

@roknsteve @Atomicboss_00 roknsteve, the existence of "Jesus" has been documented, and I am not speaking of the Bible.  The Jewish historian Josephus documented His existence and His Crucifixion.  Now, that is not proof that He was the Son of God, but when you say no such person ever existed, you are mistaken.

deesis
deesis

@roknsteve @Atomicboss_00 I am sitting in the smallest room in the house. Now your comments are before me.. soon they shall be behind!

roknsteve
roknsteve

@DanBruce @roknsteve You're reading the wrong books because you want to believe.  Go to web site "bibliotechapleyades" and read what others have researched. There's thousands of pages on all kinds of subjects. 

DanBruce
DanBruce

@roknsteve @DanBruce As for forty years of research, I am five years short on that requirement, but I have a suspicion that I am thirty-five years head of you, nevertheless. If you are interested in some facts, I have three books about the Bible that are full of reasons to believe. If you are not interested, though, that's your choice and I'll leave it at that. You are responsible for your soul, not me.

roknsteve
roknsteve

@Atomicboss_00 @jmac @DanBruce @roknsteve There actually was a group called crestians.  The greek word "Kristos" is the root of the word christian and predates the christian era by hundreds of years.  More proof that the religion was made-up,     

roknsteve
roknsteve

@Atomicboss_00 @jmac @DanBruce @roknsteve The stories in the Old Testament were from other cultures.  This has been proven over and over.  The stories in the New Testament were all made-up.  There's no mention of any of them in the writing of that time.  For instance, they uncovered a library from 100 AD in Jerusalem 5 years ago and and none of the scrolls said anything about any person named Yeshua (Jesus).  This religion was put together by the command of Emperor Constantine to control the people.  It sure worked on you.     

Atomicboss_00
Atomicboss_00

@jmac @DanBruce @roknsteve The truth is the Bible is the most accurate document ever kept through the ages of man kind. There is only a 5% difference in the copies. None of those are on doctrine. Moreover the new discoveries such as the dead sea scrolls match the Bibles books as well along with a whole list of other books in the Bible that have been found since the joining of the old testament and new testament. Stop reading Dan Brown novels and get your information straight. I guess if you want to miss lead people you would be no better than the crooked preachers who do this for the money!

jmac
jmac

@DanBruce @jmac @roknsteve  You're hedging your bet.  I don't want a God that makes people think they have to hedge a bet.   Especially when your religion hurts others by its moralizing and stone throwing and God playing.