Former team leader of the Cassini mission to Saturn, David Coppedge, claims he was demoted and eventually lost his job because he preached intelligent design to his co-workers, according to a court case in Los Angeles Superior Court. Opening statements were held March 12, after Coppedge was demoted from his job as team leader at nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (jpl) in 2009 and then lost his job in 2011.
“It’s part of a pattern. There is basically a war on anyone who dissents from Darwin, and we’ve seen that for several years,” said John West from the Discovery Institute, who is supporting Coppedge’s case. “This is free speech, freedom of conscience 101.”
Josh Rosenau, programs and policy director at the National Center for Science Education, which promotes the teaching of evolution in public schools, disagrees. “It looks like a pretty straightforward case,” he said. “The mission that he was working on was winding down, and he was laid off.”
Coppedge says his conversations about intelligent design and distribution of dvds on the subject, along with protesting the naming of the annual party a “Holiday Party” instead of a “Christmas Party,” and his opposition to homosexual “marriage,” led to his demotion. jpl said he was officially warned after his co-workers complained he was harassing them, and that he was demoted because of conflicts with other staff. ▪