Lunar Atheism

Though she has been the subject or object of various urban legends, the late Madalyn Murray O’Hair did manage to influence affairs beyond the confines of this blue planet. I learned tonight that her litigious nature even reached at far as the Moon.

When Apollo 15 astronauts Dave Scott and Jim Irwin were landing the Falcon on the lunar surface they followed a series of craters that marked the way to the landing site. They had been named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Index. They couldn’t call the last one John because they were afraid of O’Hair.

After the crew of Apollo 8 had read from Genesis during their Christmas Eve 1968 broadcast in lunar orbit, O’Hair sued NASA. She lost the suit, but she won the day because NASA chiefs were thereafter put off religious names for fear of repeated litigation. I suppose they figured if they only included the Synoptic Gospels, they would be safe. Apparently the plan worked.

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