By Douglas V. Gibbs
Because the idea that the universe was created by God, a god, or some force more intelligent than ourselves, is embraced by religions across the world, the very "theory" of Intelligent Design is unaccepted by the Science Community, and is brushed aside as merely the rantings of religious doctrine. Science, however, when surrounded by unproven theories, is designed by its very make up to investigate "all" possibilities, no matter how far-fetched the industry may think the suggestion may be. Therefore, it seems reasonable that despite the religious connotation of "Intelligent Design," science should take the theory seriously, especially when the proposed answer to where we all came from is accompanied by viable scientific research.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory disagrees.
David Coppedge is (was) a high level mission computer system administrator at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, but when word got out that he supports Intelligent Design as a viable answer to the question regarding our origin, and lent out a couple DVDs supporting his belief to persons voluntarily accepting the material, Mr. Coppedge was abruptly demoted.
He is now suing his employer for anti-religious discrimination, harassment, and wrongful demotion.
The two DVD videos he lent out, titled Unlocking the Mystery of Life and The Privileged Planet, delve into the concept of Intelligent Design without compromise. The individuals that accepted the films had previously shown interest in the topic, and knew that Mr. Coppedge was the man to go to for information regarding Intelligent Design. After the lending of the videos, according to David Coppedge's complaint, his supervisors called him in and promptly advised him that the act of lending was an "unwelcome" and "disruptive" act of "pushing religion" in the workplace. The supervisors then told him to stop talking about Intelligent Design on the job or be fired, and even put their warning in writing.
After complying with the order, despite how unfair it seemed, Coppedge was still demoted.
Coppedge exhausted all remedies, and then after receiving no retribution, decided to sue JPL, his immediate boss, two bosses above that boss, and twenty-five other JPL employees.
A quote from Gary Williams of Loyola University School of Law states that "courts have viewed Intelligent Design as a religious belief, not a scientific theory," and for that reason, Coppedge cannot possibly prevail.
Discovery Institute's Casey Luskin disagrees, saying that nothing in California's Fair Employment and Housing Act permits an employer to restrict speech in such a manner. The Discovery Institute's Robert Crowther also points out that other employees may deprecate Intelligent Design with impunity and otherwise discuss non-work-related topics in the workplace without fear of sanction. In other words, Coppedge is being singled out.
So the question is, since this is a federal agency, does not the 1st Amendment apply, which restricts prohibiting the free exercise of religion? And to take it further, is Intelligent Design a religious belief, or can it also be a scientific theory as well? After all, Coppedge has not indicated he is a Creationist in the religious sense, only that he believes Intelligent Design to be a viable scientific answer to the age old question, "Where did we come from?"
-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary
JPL mission controller suing agency for anti-religious discrimination - Examiner