NASA Christian Employee Fired for Believing in Intelligent Design

In a case that has gained notoriety the last few weeks, a former NASA employee filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against NASA after claiming he was fired for believing in intelligent design.

David Coppedge, a former team leader on the Cassini project that sent satellites to the distant planet of Saturn, was also a believer in intelligent design which states that life is so complex that a higher power must have aided in the creation of life.

"There is basically a war on anyone who dissents from Darwin and we've seen that for several years," said John West, associate director of Center for Science and Culture at Seattle's Discovery Institute, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Opening statements begin today in a case that has pitted both supporters and opponents of intelligent design against each other.

There are also a number of groups that have come to the defense of Coppedge. The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian civil rights group, and the Discovery Institute, a supporter of intelligent design, have come to the aid of Coppedge.

Coppedge's attorney, William Becker, explained that his client was demoted and then let go because his superiors thought that his belief in intelligent design was religious.

In the lawsuit, Coppedge stated that he feels that there are other instances which led to his termination as well. This includes his support for a state ballot measure that sought to define marriage only between heterosexual couples coupled with his request to rename the annual holiday party to "Christmas party."

"He's not apologizing for who he is. He's an evangelical Christian," Becker said.

In court filings, lawyers for the California Institute of Technology, which manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA, said Coppedge received a written warning because his co-workers complained of harassment.

Their lawyers also state that Coppedge was one of two Cassini technicians and among 246 other employees terminated last year due to budget cuts.