On the fourth day of recorded history God made the moon. On the 201st day of 1969 man is scheduled to land there. And if all goes well, America, home of the world’s leading Judeo-Christian culture, will have defeated the Soviet Union in the lunar-landing race.
A question raised often of late has been whether or not the moon astronauts—Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, Jr., Mike Collins—would give recognition during their journey to the God of the moon and to their country’s religious heritage.
Though precise answers were hard to come by two weeks before blast-off (partly because of official fear of Mrs. Madalyn Murray O’Hare’s anti-religion rantings, partly because of the astronauts’ pre-flight secrecy about their personal plans), two things were clear. First, all three men grew up in active church environments. Second, the moon team cannot be called “deeply religious.”
The 38-year-old Armstrong, who is to step first onto the lunar surface, grew up as a faithful Ohio church boy. He regularly attended Sunday school, church, and the youth activities of little Wapakoneta’s Evangelical and Reformed Church (now United Church of Christ). He was, says his mother, “a religiously inclined youth.” And his friends describe him as an all-American boy, who was interested in church and school, close to his family, avidly interested in model airplanes.
Organized religion seemed to lose its hold on America’s newest pioneer-hero, however, after he went to work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. “He’s devoted his whole time the last few years to work,” his mother said. He is not an active member of any church, and Texas friends say ...1