Intelligent Design Think Tank Rallies Support for Fired NASA Employee

The Discovery Institute is asking supporters to contact NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab to stop discriminating against proponents of intelligent design.

The appeal on Friday comes in the wake of a discrimination lawsuit, filed by longtime employee David Coppedge who was demoted and then fired after sharing pro-intelligent design videos with co-workers.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled earlier this month that the case will go before a jury.

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"Contact these JPL leaders right now and ask them to settle the Coppedge lawsuit and stop discriminating against employees who believe the universe was intelligently designed," the Discovery Institute, an intelligent design think tank, stated Friday.

Coppedge had served as a "team lead" technical specialist on Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Cassini mission to Saturn. The 14-year JPL veteran was demoted in 2009 after being accused of "pushing religion" on his co-workers.

Coppedge had engaged fellow employees in conversations about intelligent design – a theory that life and the existence of the universe derive not from undirected material processes but from an intelligent cause – and offered DVDs on the subject when someone expressed interest. He has maintained that intelligent design is a scientific theory.

After filing a discrimination complaint, he was terminated from his position in January 2011, reportedly as a result of downsizing. But the Discovery Institute suspects budget issues wasn't the main reason for letting him go.

"Coppedge doesn't seem at all like the first person who would normally be forced to leave in such a situation. Obviously, JPL has other considerations," Casey Luskin, an attorney with the think tank, stated earlier.

"Evidence shows that JPL demoted and terminated Coppedge because he expressed a pro-ID scientific viewpoint disliked at JPL and labeled 'religion' by JPL decision-makers," the Discovery Institute asserted.

Joshua Youngkin, a legal affairs policy analyst with Discovery Institute, explained, "California law forbids employers who view an employee's expression as religion to punish or diminish the employee on that basis."

"Although ID is not religion, it can't be singled out by JPL or other employers in this way."

The think tank asks those who contact the California lab to "be respectful" while also indicating "that as a taxpayer who ultimately pays for the budget of JPL, you think it's wrong to use taxpayer resources to promote discrimination against intelligent design."

JPL is a federally funded research and development facility managed by the California Institute of Technology for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Coppedge is being represented by the Becker Law Firm.

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