A number of notables appear in the pages of The Apostles of Apollo:
George H.W. Bush, then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, also received a copy of the lunar Bible along with Vice President Spiro Agnew, who responded in a letter to Reverend Stout, “Of my many mementos of the space program, your gift to me is one of the most prized” . . .
George H. W. Bush
“Since the astronauts are doing this on a personal basis we wanted someone of national prominence to be present when the [Apollo 13] Bibles were presented to the astronauts. Finally from a hundred suggested names, from the Pope to the President, a Christian congressman, George H.W. Bush, was chosen” . . .
[Reverend John Stout, Director, The Apollo Prayer League]
Johnny Cash and June Carter asked for two segments of the lunar Bible as an expression of their lasting love for each other. . .
Walter Cronkite, a CBS television journalist who thought he had seen it all, was similarly moved by the Apollo 8 Bible reading from Genesis. “You know, I’m afraid that my first reaction was, “Oh, this is a little too much, this is a little too dramatic.” I might even have thought, ” This is a little corny.” But by the time Borman had finished reading that excerpt from the Bible, I admit that I had tears in my eyes. . .
The World Council of Churches symbol was routed through channels from McCord to Senator Bob Dole, who then forwarded it to APL member Norman Durst in Washington for transfer to Reverend Stout, who inserted it in the upper-left corner of the First Lunar Bible Honor Roll. . .
On one occasion at Rice University, O’Hair challenged anyone to debate her about religious faith. Stout took her up on it, inviting her to debate him at Herman Park in Houston during a conference sponsored by the International Bible Society. “You’re not of my stature,”she informed him. “Now if you get Billy Graham to come, I might do it”. . .
Bob Hope, the most famous entertainer on the planet at the time, decided to roll out The Bob Hope Extra Special, a televised four-and-a-half-hour benefit to raise money for the Edward White Youth Memorial Center Fund. Bob Hope unabashedly admired the astronauts and promised the special would be a “Texas-sized” event in the new Houston Astrodome. . .
Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, President Johnson’s special counsel in the field of space, often visited the Cape Kennedy Space Center and knew the astronauts well. The news hit him especially hard. . .
In the White House, Nixon’s National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and Secretary of State William Rogers attempted to keep the President informed on the Apollo 13 crisis through updates from astronauts Mike Collins and Bill Anders. . .
Lyndon B. Johnson
During the furlough, the Stouts stopped at a restaurant in Austin where a chance meeting with George Reedy, public affairs manager for then-Senator Lyndon Johnson, led to an introduction to the senator and his wife at a local church service . . . “Let me put you in touch with the American Society of Professional Photographers,” Johnson offered. “They’re going to cover the tracking of satellites”. . .
John F. Kennedy
The next morning, a light drizzle fell outside the Hotel Texas as a breakfast crowd gathered to hear him speak. The President took the opportunity to talk of America’s need to be “second to none” in defense and in space and of the willingness of Americans “to assume the burdens of leadership.” The speech was warmly received by the thousand-plus crowd that had waited over an hour outside the hotel in the rain. After the speech, the President and Mrs. Kennedy boarded a limousine. Since it was no longer raining, the plastic bubble top was removed. The next stop on their tour was Dallas. . .
But in the midst of the impending first moon landing, another story was vying for headlines. On July 18, Senator Ted Kennedy attended a party on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts. At about 11:00 p.m., he borrowed his chauffeur’s keys to his Oldsmobile limousine and offered to give a ride home to Mary Jo Kopechne, a campaign worker. Leaving the island by way of an unlit bridge with no guard rail, Kennedy’s car veered off the bridge and flipped into Poucha Pond. He swam to shore and walked back to the party . . .
Dr. Martin Luther King
On April 4, 1968, another unmanned rocket, Apollo 6, launched in a cataract of flame and thunderous noise. This time, however, the television audience was virtually absent as news from Memphis, Tennessee, flooded the networks with reports that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot and killed. Urban riots erupted throughout the country. . .
Admiral John McCain
The man whose assistance Flight Operations Director Chris Kraft truly needed was Admiral John McCain, father of a fighter pilot being held as a prisoner of war in Hanoi. Without Admiral McCain’s cooperation, all manner of glitches would spring up. . .
James I. McCord
Since the honor roll would accompany the First Lunar Bible, Stout asked Reverend James McCord, president of Princeton Theological Seminary, to submit an early Christian symbol to appear at the top of the honor roll. McCord was active in the World Council of Churches (WCC) and obtained permission to use the organization’s symbol depicting a ship with a mast in the form of a cross, representing the gospel call for followers to become “fishers of men”. . .
President Richard Nixon
The proposed wording for the plaque was then sent to the President for approval. By all reports, Nixon was excited by the prospect of being the sitting president of the country whose space travelers first set foot on another celestial body. The President approved the message, but only after adding his name at the bottom of the plaque. No one mentioned to him that his name wasn’t entirely appropriate since he himself would not actually be landing on the moon. . .
Stout played football for Norton and was a sophomore end in the squad of Norton’s last Cotton Bowl team in 1942. . .
Madalyn Murray O’Hair
O’Hair, the antagonistic and foul-mouthed atheist renowned for her success in persuading the Supreme Court to ban prayer in public schools, was now poised to pounce on any religious activities in space. But she was about to meet her match in the form of one Reverend John Maxwell Stout . . .
Norman Vincent Peale
Stout took his concerns to bestselling author and pastor Norman Vincent Peale who was experienced and influential in religious circles. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the space program and urged Stout to work toward fulfilling Ed White’s dream of landing a Bible on the moon. . .
Roy Rogers and Dale Evans
“Helen and I caught Dale Evans and Roy Rogers at a restaurant and presented his [lunar Bible] there,” said Reverend Stout.”The conversation drifted to Madalyn O’Hair, at which point Roy Rogers stuck out his tongue and gave her a ‘raspberry,’ saying that is what he thought of her” . . .
As it turned out, NASA’s final message wasn’t exactly final. William Safire, a young speechwriter for President Nixon, received a copy of the proposed wording for the [Apollo 11] plaque, and some of the word choices troubled him. . .
The after-hours labor at NASA to develop the First Lunar Bible was long and tedious, inspired by Hour of Power sermons broadcast from the Crystal Cathedral by evangelist Robert H. Schuller. . .
Wernher von Braun
Of those consulted during the space race, no one had been thinking longer about the future in space than Wernher von Braun, a handsome, dashing man with the looks and charisma of a Hollywood leading man. Even when he led development of the V-2 rocket for Nazi Germany during World War II, lobbing errant rockets on London, he dreamed of future manned space journeys. . .
Alabama Governor George Wallace was so taken with the entire endeavor that when Stout gave him a segment of the lunar Bible, he granted him an honorary appointment. “All I had out of the military was a piece of paper,” Stout said, “and Wallace sent me a gold-edged certificate of appointment as a colonel in the Alabama State Militia” . . .