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October 26 and 27, 2012

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David Coppedge is one man standing up against NASA, the American governments’ space exploration agency. Now that takes courage! Why would anyone undertake such a difficult task? Basically it is a fight for freedom of religion and for freedom to discuss intelligent design during social settings in the workplace.

CSAA brings many interesting and qualified speakers to Alberta. Few however have been involved with NASA in space exploration! This makes David Coppedge particularly remarkable. An information technology specialist and high level system administrator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, he worked on the international Cassini Mission to Saturn from 1997 until last year. In that capacity he was heavily involved in all the mission operations and from 2000-2009 in the capacity of Team Lead System Administrator. In addition, on behalf of NASA during those years, he presented the Cassini discoveries to schools and civic and astronomy clubs. One astronomy society in January 2011 urged people to hear this “educational and enjoyable speaker.”

David Coppedge is also a prominent apologist for young earth creation and intelligent design. He is a member of the board of Illustra Media, which has produced excellent videos such as Unlocking the Mystery of Life, Privileged Planet, Darwin’s Dilemma and Metamorphosis. He also provides daily commentary on scientific articles which have just appeared. CSAA’s website provides a link to the insightful and upbeat Creation-Evolution Headlines (which has been operative since 2001). In a more popular vein, David Coppedge has published articles in Institute for Creation Research’s Acts and Facts Magazine.

During his career at JPL, Mr. Coppedge occasionally shared copies of Illustra Media videos with colleagues. Having complained that he was “pushing religion”, JPL fired David Coppedge in January 2011. He brought suit against JPL (funded by American taxpayers) and the institution’s private administrator California Institute of Technology. His suit claims protection against religious discrimination under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. On November 18, 2011, a judge ruled that this case presents legitimate issues of fact and law and ordered the case to move forward to trial. The trial began on March 7, 2012.

The court case has generated international media attention. A Yahoo News item (March 12/12) was entitled “Suit: NASA Specialist Axed over Intelligent Design.” Another item, posted online by TIME Magazine on March 19 was entitled “Legal Smackdown: NASA, Religion and Intelligent Design.” TIME’s piece suggested that Mr. Coppedge’s views “make something of an awkward fit with a mission that is intended, in part, to look for the chemical and evolutionary origins of life, with no role for anything other than the strictly empirical.” The article suggested that NASA was entirely justified to object to someone who was a “provocateur” and “ a pain”, promoting an unpopular view. But it was not the views, but the actions that JPL objected to, said TIME, and besides all NASA did was to “downsize” Mr. Coppedge as a result of a reduced role for Cassini.

On the other hand David Coppedge contends that he was a senior employee in good standing until a supervisor objected to his lending the DVDs Unlocking the Mystery of Life and Privileged Planet to willing colleagues.

The resulting court case therefore is supposed to resolve to what extent an employee really enjoys freedom of religion and free speech in the workplace. Legislation clearly protects this right, but does the law really protect anyone? This California case obviously is an important one. It is expected to run 3 or 4 (possibly even 5) weeks. The judge has viewed the two DVDs and multiple copies have been distributed to the media.

CSAA therefore looks forward to a most interesting and famous speaker! His lecture titles include: Cassini discovers Saturn; Evidences for youth in the Solar System; the Art and Science of Baloney Detecting!; and Why the Church must emphasize Creation. The venue, in Edmonton, is Mill Woods Assembly at 66 St. and 23 Avenue, easy to find with lots of parking!

Mark your calendars now for Friday evening and Saturday all day and evening, October 26 and 27, 2012 in Edmonton! And plan to bring your friends. We look forward to beautiful images and insightful commentary on topics not recently considered in our Creation Weekends.

Expect to be impressed!

June 2012

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