Reverend John M. Stout, 2010
Four nearly five decades mystery has surrounded the legacy of the Fist Lunar Bibles. often proliferated by dealers, collectors, and auction houses seeking to profit from individuals and organizations eager to own one of the rare historical and religious artifacts.
Along with these come carefully crafted theories designed to substantiate the credibility of the seller’s claims. Unfortunately, many of these microfilm Bibles fail to bear the fundamental provenance and documented chain of ownership necessary to confirm their heritage from the Apollo Prayer League (APL) archives of its Director, Reverend John Stout,1968-2010.
The more prevalent myths are as follows
Myth 1: The lunar Bibles were flown twice—once on Apollo 13 and again on Apollo 14.
FALSE : The Bibles flown on Apollo 14 were not the same group of Bibles flown on Apollo 13. Reverend Stout stated that the 512 Bibles flown on Apollo 13 were retained by the crew as mementos. A reel of 1500 microfilm Bibles was purchased by the APL, of which another group of 512 Bibles were flown on Apollo 14 separated in three packets as follows:
Reverend John Stout states in a July 2009 email: "The Bibles on 12, 13, and 14 were not related in any way."
Myth 2: The lunar Bible landed onboard Apollo 14 was “The first book carried to the moon.”
FALSE: The first published book carried to the moon was a miniature copy of Robert Goddard’s published biography carried by Buzz Aldrin on Apollo 11, July 20, 1969.
According to the Telegram & Gazette, in Worchester, MA, July 20, 2015, “The book entitled 'Robert Hutchins Goddard — Father of the Space Age' was flown to the moon on board Apollo 11." Mr. Aldrin wrote to the publisher, Achille J. St. Onge of Worcester, ”The book was presented to Goddard’s widow, Esther Goddard. Aldrin carried three copies, one of which were still in his possession as of 2016.
Myth 3: Some Lunar Bibles carried to the surface of the moon on Apollo 14 were released without serial numbers.
FALSE: None of the 100 lunar-landed Bibles were released before they were engraved. Five-digit serial numbers were engraved by Rev. John Stout in the margin of each Bible immediately after their return and before any were distributed. The count was verified by APL Secretary Byron Price.
Each serial number was recorded in the official Apollo Prayer League Lunar Bible Registry along with the name of the recipient. If no recipient was indicated, the Bible had not been released and remained in the Apollo Prayer League lunar Bible archives. Twenty-Six of the 100 Bibles were “segmented” into 2-page and 50-page fragments and are noted in the registry with an “x.”
Any lunar Bible not bearing a 5-digit serial number as recorded in the Apollo Prayer League Lunar Bible Registry should not be considered authentic. Thousands of microfilm Bibles were sold by the developer, National Cash Register, at the 1964-65 World’s Fair for only a few dollars each, and a reel of several hundred unused microfilm Bibles in the APL archives is unaccounted for.
Myth 4: Apollo 14 Edgar Mitchell certified lunar Bibles bearing 3-digit serial numbers.
TRUE: A handful of microfilm Bibles purportedly carried to the moon and engraved by a dealer with three-digit serial numbers were certified by Edgar Mitchell for Peachstate Consulting owner, David Frohman, in 2000 based on assurances that Rev. Stout was senile or dead. He was neither. He was alive and well and living with his wife outside of Houston. Click here for more.
These Bibles did not bear 5-digit serial numbers. According to Rev. Stout, the entire packet of lunar-landed Bibles was returned to him unopened and still in their original sealed packets. There is no conceivable way Mitchell could have known if the Bibles he certified were among those he carried to the moon.
Myth 5: Rev. John Stout’s brother James was a member of Apollo Prayer League governing committee and had authority to distributed lunar Bibles.
FALSE: According to APL tax filings and by-laws, Reverend Stout's brother, James Stout, was not a member of the Apollo Prayer League executive committee. The governing board was made up of: John Stout, Harold Hill, and, later, Secretary, Byron Price. James Stout was a Ft. Worth police officer, not a reverend. “James had nothing to do with Apollo 14,” Rev. Stout stated. “He was nowhere around.” Click here for more.
Myth 6: Only 12 lunar Bibles have been flight-certified by Apollo 14 Edgar Mitchell.
FALSE: In addition to the 12 reported by Peachstate Historical consulting, an additional group of eleven Apollo 14 lunar Bibles were certified by astronaut Mitchell in Tucson, AZ on June 20, 2009.
At that time, Apollo 14 Edgar Mitchell advised well-known dealer David Frohman, Peachstate Historical Consulting, that he had indeed certified eleven additional lunar Bibles along with Rev. John Stout. However, Peachstate Bibles continued to appear on the market as late as May, 2014, when one was sold at auction for $75,000.
Note: These eleven additional Bibles are the only Apollo 14 lunar Bibles with 5-digit serial numbers known to be certified by both Apollo 14 Lunar Module Pilot Edgar Mitchell, the astronaut who flew them, and their original creator, Reverend John Stout, Director of the Apollo Prayer League.
Myth 7: Rev. John Stout was deteriorating in his later years after leaving NASA at the close of Apollo in 1972.
FALSE: Rev Stout, an ordained Presbyterian pastor and scientist with six degrees including doctorate, remained lucid and articulate into his early 90's.
After leaving his position at NASA as an information scientist and industrial chaplain, Rev. Stout held management positions with several US companies before moving with his wife Helen to Anchorage, Alaska in 1982, where he spent eleven years as a consultant with the Department of Interior Alaskan Wildlife Service. As part of his role, he was asked to consult on the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound. From their home on Eagle River, he and Helen opened the Alaskan Wildlife Ministries for the indigenous Indians in the region. Their religious outreach was documented in the local press.
Upon his return to Texas in 1995, he continued to assiduously maintain the Apollo Prayer League records and artifacts until late 2010—creating an APL website and disseminating information via the internet to interested parties in the US, Romania, and Brazil.
Apollo 14 Edgar Mitchell passed away February 24, 2016. Reverend Stout passed away on December 6, 2016.