In June 2015, attorneys at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, told Christian employees they could no longer mention the name "Jesus" in e-newsletter announcements for their Praise and Worship Club because they believed it violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution. After the legal intervention of First Liberty Institute attorneys last month, however, NASA officials reversed their stance.
As reported by The Gospel Herald on Feb. 12, members of the JSC Praise and Worship Club have been regularly meeting during lunch breaks since 2001. During their gatherings, they sing songs of worship and discuss various aspects of their faith, The Hill reported. Then, members of the group said NASA warned them their newsletter announcement violated a policy of the agency, which is to remain neutral regarding the subject of religion. There had been no censorship issues presented until last year.
Following is the complete posting that appeared in the May 28, 2015, edition of JSC Today: Join with the praise and worship band "Allied with the Lord" for a refreshing set of spring praise and worship songs on Thursday, June 4, from 11:15 a.m. to noon in Building 57, Room 106. (The theme for this session will be "Jesus is our life!") Prayer partners will be available for anyone who has the need. All JSC civil servants and contractors are welcome.
"It was shocking to all of us and very frustrating," NASA engineer Sophia Smith said. "NASA has a long history of respecting religious speech. Why wouldn't they allow us to put the name Jesus in the announcement about our club?"
First Liberty attorneys responded on Feb. 8, 2016, with a demand letter threatening a federal lawsuit against NASA if the practice was not corrected. First Liberty is the largest legal organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to protecting religious freedom for all Americans.
On Feb. 18, NASA said they would no longer prohibit the use of the name "Jesus." A new announcement from the Praise and Worship Club on Feb. 17 was published, inviting people to join the club for a meeting with the theme "Jesus is our victory!"
First Liberty representatives said NASA should not prohibit the use of "Jesus" in any future announcements either.
"It is illegal for the government to censor the name of Jesus from emails authored by employees," the Liberty Institute's senior counsel Jeremy Dys said. "Preventing a religious club's announcement just because it contains the name 'Jesus' is blatant religious discrimination."