Laid off NASA JPL employee sues, claims he was let go for his beliefs in 'intelligent design'

Intelligent Design

Nick Ut/AP

In this March 7, 2012 photo, David Coppedge, left, is shown outside Los Angeles Superior Court with his attorney, William Becker. Coppedge, a mission specialist who claims he was demoted - and then let go - by Jet Propulsion Laboratory for his workplace comments promoting his views on intelligent design, the belief that a higher power must have had a hand in creation because life is too complex to have developed through evolution alone. His lawsuit alleging improper dismissal against NASA begins Monday, March 12 in Los Angeles.

Science and religion may clash this week in a Los Angeles courtroom, as an ex-employee of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) says he was let go because of his beliefs.

David Coppedge worked at JPL for 15 years as a computer specialist. He was a team leader on the Cassini mission that explored Saturn and its moons.

Coppedge is also an evangelical Christian who believes in "intelligent design." It’s an alternative theory to evolution that says a higher power must have had a hand in creation.

Coppedge would talk with his co-workers about his beliefs; he also handed out DVDs on the subject, and he says that’s why JPL demoted him in 2009 before firing him last year.

JPL says Coppedge was one of hundreds of employees laid off because of budget cuts, but they also say some of his colleagues complained about Coppedge and said he was harassing them.

Coppedge got a written warning about that. JPL says he was demoted because of those ongoing conflicts.

Coppedge says his rights were violated, and he’s suing for damages.

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