NASA worker's lawsuit charges discrimination over intelligent design

David Coppedge Credit ADF CNA US Catholic News 3 1 12 David Coppedge. | Alliance Defense Fund

A NASA mission specialist allegedly demoted for his beliefs about intelligent design is suing Jet Propulsion Laboratories in a civil trial to begin in Los Angeles March 7.

David Coppedge was a lead information technology specialist on the laboratories' Cassini mission to Saturn before his demotion and it suing his employer on the grounds of religious discrimination.

The former NASA worker charges that he was demoted after he voiced his beliefs about intelligent design, the theory that the organization of biological life and the universe indicates the existence of an intelligent cause.

“Employees shouldn’t be threatened with termination and punished for sharing their opinion with willing co-workers just because the view being shared doesn’t fit the prevailing view in the workplace,” said Coppedge’s attorney William Becker, who is allied with the Alliance Defense Fund.

The Alliance Defense Fund characterized the theory of intelligent design as a scientific theory that makes no reference to religion and that has many non-religious adherents.

“Mr. Coppedge has always maintained that intelligent design is a scientific theory, but JPL has illegally discriminated against him on the basis of what they deem is 'religion.'”

Coppedge's lawyers also said that he discussed intelligent design with wiling co-workers and offered colleagues DVDs on the subject when they expressed interest.

However, his supervisor said that co-workers complained about his actions, and he was given a written warning describing his actions as harassing in nature and disruptive to the workplace. He was then removed from the “team lead” position on the Cassini mission, the Christian Post reported in January 2011.

The laboratories are operated by the California Institute of Technology under a contract with NASA. Coppedge first sued in the summer of 2010 and was fired in January 2011.

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