Nasa sacked me over religion - worker

2012-03-14 12:30

Los Angeles - A former senior Nasa expert was sacked after being unfairly accused of "harassing co-workers with (his) religion", his lawyer told the start of an unfair dismissal trial on Tuesday.

Computer administrator David Coppedge was fired from Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in 2011 after expressing support for intelligent design to fellow employees, said his attorney lawyer William Becker.

Coppedge filed a religious discrimination lawsuit in April 2010, and claims he was dismissed nine months later in retaliation for taking the legal action - but JPL said he was laid off as part of a staff reduction.

In court in Los Angeles, Coppedge's lawyer claimed JPL demoted him for "pushing religion" by loaning co-workers DVDs about intelligence design, which challenges evolutionary theory that life is based on random chance.

"It's come to my attention you've been harassing co-workers with your religion," Becker quotes Coppedge's former project supervisor Gregory Chin as saying.


Coppedge, who had joined JPL in 1996, was an information technology specialist and system administrator - and team leader - on the project's Cassini mission to Saturn.

He lost his team leader role in 2009, and left the company last year after 15 years.

In a sworn declaration, he denied he was aggressive in voicing views about religion, including by sending e-mails criticising the change in name of the 2003 Cassini Christmas party to a "holiday party".

"I was not pushy, scolding or demanding in these e-mails," he said. "In fact, my purpose was to convince them to not be so politically correct. It wouldn't have made any sense for me to have been pushy," he said.

JPL lawyers claim that Coppedge forced co-workers to hear his opinions about intelligent design and California's Proposition 8, a 2008 referendum initiative which banned gay marriage in the US state.

But they say the DVDs had nothing to do with his demotion and that two JPL managers who were Christian - like Coppedge - actually bought DVDs about intelligent design from him.

In a statement issued as the trial opened, JPL dismissed the charges, saying: "The suit is completely without merit and we intend to vigorously fight the allegations raised by Mr Coppedge."

JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, which operates under a contract with Nasa.

  • ronheidtmann - 2012-03-14 12:41

    Religion corrupts science. I hope all major research organisations fire all religious personnel, because it's no surprise the true do their dogmatic thinking and only believe in parts of science, not science itself.

      robert.cerff - 2012-03-14 12:50

      I'm strongly against religion. However this should never be a reason to fire someone. The only time someone's private affairs should be consideration for dismissal should be if it's affecting their job. But that goes for all lifestyle choice not just religion.

      Martin Myburgh - 2012-03-14 13:16

      Well, thank God then that he did not stop spreading the Gospel. He is an example for all Christians to not fear persecution because of our trust in God Jesus. Science is just another part of Gods creation , so why can't there be Christian scientists .... To God all the glory. Blessings all

      ronheidtmann - 2012-03-14 13:25

      @Martin Christianity refuses to believe any in concept that that is physical, such as evolution. Christianity will always believe in their dogmatic thinking, and therefore religion and science should never be allowed to mix with one another. Not fearing persecution? We, the non-believers should never be allowed to be persecuted because of our believes and have your dogmatic views thrust upon us! And again, it was NASA, not a church! He take his gospel somewhere else!

      Russell - 2012-03-14 13:35

      Science is corrupt!! Propergation of species from one species to another( EG dog mates with a cat and a new species is created) has to be true for evolution to occure and scientists have not yet been able to prove that it happens. Look it up or study this and you will be very surprised !!!

      Martin Myburgh - 2012-03-14 13:42

      @ronheidtmann, thanks for your response, I have to disagree with you, true Christians will never persecute people who do not believe in Christ but it is our purpose to tell people about Christ as our Saviour and then you have a choice to believe or not. Nasa is as good a place as any to spread the Gospel just as this forum is. Science is a wonderfull thing and it should be explored by all involved... Christians and non Christians. If a person lose his job or worse because he was spreading Gods word then he will be blessed by God. For people who do not believe this , the Gospel of Christ is nonsence but in the end He said that every knee will bow before Him. You must have a great day :)

      QuintSch - 2012-03-14 13:42

      It is not and never has been science versus religion (read Christianity). Rather it is one belief system (molecules to man evolutionism) versus another belief system (Christianity) that is at play. Creationists/Christians very much accept and study normal operational science like the stuff that gets us to the ISS or science that heals and gives people a better/easier way of life. It is the historical sciences where we differ as no-one was there to see what happened. In this instance the scientific evidence is far more consistent with creation than it is with evolutionism. Read or or etc

      modo - 2012-03-14 13:45

      @ronheidtmann - I think you are being too extreme and alienating people with your opinion. @Russell - That is absolutely not true. Who told you such a thing? Do a little basic research before you embarrass yourself again.

      Barry - 2012-03-14 13:50

      @Russel Science is based off of facts and evidence. And that is a completely untrue and skewed view of how evolution works. Evolution occurs through minute changes over millions of years.

      Martin Myburgh - 2012-03-14 13:58

      :) your choice

      Modefan - 2012-03-14 14:51

      Just my 2 cents....I also believe science and religion don't mix, for lots of reasons, especially in a place like NASA....reason: NASA looks for extraterrestrial what if they find some intelligent aliens? the Bible says God created man in his image, so who will the religious nuts say created them? questions questions questions...

      Greg - 2012-03-14 16:11

      You would believe in science itself?? Ask yourself the question: what exactly is the work of science? For me it is the way we discover that which already exists and there is an infinite amount of undiscovered existence. Science is simply a means to an end and not an end in itself and certainly not the primary object of belief or faith. The sheer dynamics of the human person, both within and outside of the universe (space & time), point to realities that can be understood by science and others that lie beyond the work or scope of science. Simple case in point: the shroud of Turin.

      Tommy - 2012-03-14 16:13

      Greg, more or less what Einstein wrote.

      Prom - 2012-03-15 04:23

      My how tolerant of you. And I can't believe the number of people who agree with this statement. You are also wrong in what you think we will believe. We are not the ones thrusting our views on you but you are trying to thrust yours on us. Thanks for again proving my bible correct.

  • Johan - 2012-03-14 13:31

    I am sure there is more to this story. The real reason for him being fired probably has more to do with his inability to grasp the science required to do his job.

      Prom - 2012-03-15 04:27

      Why? Because someone that believes in ID can't grasp science? If that's not your statement then it's simply a baseless one about a person you have no idea what his qualifications are.

  • Irene - 2012-03-14 13:31

    Well done to NASA. Imagine having to work with a religious zealot pumping their beliefs down your throat.

      ronheidtmann - 2012-03-14 13:37

      It's not a question that we could, but we would have been exploring the galaxy by now! Religion, not politics, will always hold us back. "Religion must die for mankind to thrive" - Bill Maher.

      Arthur - 2012-03-14 13:58

      Thousands of martyrs throughout the ages. Jesus on the cross for no reason other than believing different. Religious intolerance at the heart of some of these comments. You can even feel the hatred they have. God told Christains they would be persecuted. They can shove evolution down the throughts of our children, but you must not say a word or disagree and they will attack you without end. Someday all this discrimination will end with only Christians left. God will only do to them what they done to Him. He will discriminate and put all the opposers of Him out of His world. IF IT IS HIS WORLD HE CAN CERTAINLY DO WITH IT WHAT HE WANTS. Now what if this is true? Just what if? The possiblity is certainly real. God is coming to fire them then. You don't have to believe in hell to go to it. It's like gravity. You don't have to beliueve in it to feel it's effects. Someday soon God is coming back to claim the earth. Don't complain then if He fires you, if you still think like this then, because you've made your choice.

      jody.beggs - 2012-03-14 15:15

      @archibald Thousands of innocent victims throughout the ages. Witches burnt at the stake for no reason other than believing different , non-believers ,gays and atheists. Information intolerance at the heart of some of these comments. For you there is only one narrow path but for me I can do as I please and don't need your intolerance in my life. The only reason there is discrimination is because of people like you who follow a sexist , hate filled religion that advocates murder. Even though its against the ten commandments. Read your history and see who has been persecuted. Get of your high horse and realize you pray to a God that kills babies and ultimately wants to destroy the whole earth. A day your sick twisted mind can't wait for. Damn the man.

      Prom - 2012-03-15 04:31

      Imaging having your beliefs constantly thrust down our throats and our children's. @jody: Take your intolerance and hatred somewhere else.

      Karien - 2012-03-18 22:12

      But Jody, just like the Quran, the Torah, the Kaballah, the Upanishads and the Sutras the Bible is an infallible scientific document. Didn't you know?

      Karien - 2012-03-18 22:23

      Carl Sagan wrote the introduction to Stephen Hawking's book, A Brief History of Time. In closing his introduction, he wrote: "This is also a book about God... or perhaps about the absence of God. The word God fills these pages. Hawking embarks on a quest to answer Einstein's famous question about whether God had any choice in creating the universe. Hawking is attempting, as he explicitly states, to understand the mind of God. And this makes all the more unexpected the conclusion of the effort, at least so far: a universe with no edge in space, no beginning or end in time, and nothing for a Creator to do." Carl Sagan.

  • ronheidtmann - 2012-03-14 13:38

    @Russell And your point being? Do you think we care about what outdated book has to day? Back then the concept of physics did not exists!

      Russell - 2012-03-14 13:47

      My point is don't assume science is all correct, even Darwin retracted His theory of evolution on his death bed and btw I did not say anything about the Bible Im talking about science !!!

      ronheidtmann - 2012-03-14 13:56

      Darwin NEVER retracted his theory of evolution! Just shows you christians will try to change history and make up stories as you go along to accommodate your dogmatic beliefs!

      Russell - 2012-03-14 14:10

      YES HE DID, GO AND RESEARCH IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Russell - 2012-03-14 14:16

      Just shows you how you make assumptions and jump to comclusions about things, did I mention anywhere that I was a Christian ? Wow this proves you suck info out of your thumb !!!!!!!!

      ronheidtmann - 2012-03-14 14:31

      Many of you christians have been saying that for decades to promote your dogmatic beliefs on 'creationism,' but it has been proven time and time again by historians and those who worked close to him and his family that he NEVER retracted his theory! Again, you people will go and make up stories to accommodate your beliefs, whether they are true or not!

      Tommy - 2012-03-14 14:33

      ronheidtmann, have you even considered the philosophical principles religion provided to science?

      jody.beggs - 2012-03-14 15:18

      @Russell why do you assume the Bible to be correct ? Its been written by man in Two languages , then translated and edited by the Romans. And then translated some more. And the word of God is still intact how ? Damn the man.

      ronheidtmann - 2012-03-14 15:37

      And lets not forget how the Catholics took books out and changed the ones that were left.

      Tommy - 2012-03-14 16:24

      Religion doesn't belong to a certain collective group of people ronheidtmann, so if you have a problem with Catholics, take it up with them. Just for example, is Paganism a religion?

      Prom - 2012-03-15 04:34

      Catholics changed what in the bible? I wonder why they don't follow it then if they really did.

      Karien - 2012-03-18 21:17

      Russel Exclamations and capitals cannot prove anything.

      Karien - 2012-03-18 21:21

      Prom Go read up on the council of Nicea and the work of emperor Constantine between 300 and 325 AD. Also check the differences between the Catholic and Orthodox scriptures and why they differ.

  • Jacques - 2012-03-14 13:47

    ronheidtmann, sounds like you are upset with life in general my man... seek the truth and youwill find it

  • Stefan Van Der Merwe - 2012-03-14 14:20

    @rond please grow up and mature a little. Just as its kfc's right to air ads so its every religions right to express their views. Its also your right not to look at that kfc ad or listen to that ppl. I agree that no matter your religion a scientist and science must be open-minded. It is his right to talk about religon, even at work. But we don't know what truly happened there. If he was given his warnings and told to stop because it was interfering with his ane others' work, then i agree with NASA. But going on like a crazy person when you don't know all the facts just show your lack of respect, discipline and intelligence

      Martin Myburgh - 2012-03-14 16:32

      Well said :)

      Prom - 2012-03-15 04:36

      You'll always get the people that eat macdonalds and then complain in court it makes them fat.

  • Arthur - 2012-03-14 16:04

    @jody.beggs. When I read the Bible I only see a God that loved humanity. True Christians never killed anyone, instead they got killed. If you are talking about the Catholics persecuting or burning pagans, then I say they were acting on their own. Their New Testamnet never asked them to do it. They killed pagans, Jews and protestants alike and shall be judged for that. Only when God will do that you will cry -murder! If you say God should not execute judgement as authority higher than your govwernment over the wicked, then you are asking the wicked not to be punished. Even this God will excuse them if they repent. You are asking for justice never to be executed. If you murder in your country I am sure they sent you to prison. You do it in the US in certain states they might even give you the death penalty. Cruel? Hardly some will say considering the crimes commited. Why do people cry out for justice and than blame God if He executes it same as they do? All over the world justice is carried out daily. Did God not see all those murders that took place in Noah's day? He sees more than government sees. Did He not gave them a preacher Noah for 120 years before He brought judgement? Will your government be so patient if you commit a crime and even provide you a way out? Jesus died for those who are willing to show remorse. I call that love beyond the carnal reasoning you have. Can a man judge God unjust if he will kill for much less?

      Karien - 2012-03-18 21:54

      See Archi, I don't know about all this. Why would god punish people if he made them as they are?

      jody.beggs - 2012-03-20 18:51

      Please ichyballs take your superstitions elsewhere... Damn the man.

  • Karien - 2012-03-18 21:14

    I don't think we have enough to indicate a necessary connection between the guy selling his babble and him getting fired months later, do we? I do get the idea though that the highly eductated people at Caltech and NASA do not suffer fools gladly. Good!

      jody.beggs - 2012-03-20 18:55

      The guy is a retard if he doesn't use scientific principles for a job a NASA. If your religious views interfere with your job , you need to quit or you will get fired. If your the only moron saying, "but God did it what are you talking about?" instead of validation any claims with evidence , then you need to go. Simple Damn the man.

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