November 5, 2014 | David F. Coppedge

Nature Reports Armitage Discrimination Case

The leading scientific journal has reported Mark Armitage’s lawsuit against California State University for firing him as a creationist.

In a fairly unbiased write-up, Christopher Kemp in Nature News has given publicity to a discrimination case involving microscopist Mark Armitage, an outspoken creationist (he serves on the board of the Creation Research Society, and has presided over a local creation group, the Bible-Science Association).  Armitage, standing bold in a photograph at the article’s head, is suing California State University, Northridge (CSUN) for firing him over his publication of a paper with young-earth implications in a peer-reviewed journal, even though the journal paper said nothing about creation or the age of the earth.  His paper, published in Acta Histochemica last year, described soft tissue in a Triceratops horn he had uncovered in the Hell Creek Formation in Montana.  It was reviewed by Mary Schweitzer and others.  The article states that Schweitzer, who had first reported dinosaur soft tissue in 2005, agreed that Armitage had only described the morphology of the fossil, not any creationist arguments.  “It was fine,” she was quoted saying.

Kemp made a passing reference to David Coppedge’s discrimination case against JPL (2011-2012):

The suit alleges that faculty members hostile to Armitage had him fired because they could not stand working with a creationist who had been published in a legitimate scientific journal. He and his attorneys at the Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative legal organization based in Sacramento, California, that focuses on religious and family issues, have repeatedly made that claim in the press. But specialists in US labour law suggest that his claim of religious intolerance might have difficulty standing up if the case goes to trial.

In recent years, a schoolteacher, academic and NASA employee who were creationists have claimed that they were fired unjustly for their religious beliefs. (None were reinstated.) But what makes this case different is that Armitage managed to survive for years in a mainstream academic institution and to publish research in a respected peer-reviewed journal.

There’s an error there, because Coppedge also “managed to survive for years” (14 years—longer than Armitage at CSUN—and 9 of those years as a team lead) “in a mainstream academic institution” (JPL is a NASA research and development laboratory managed by Caltech).

The article is titled, “University sued after firing creationist fossil hunter.”  The subtitle adds, for unclear reasons, “Microscopist’s wrongful-dismissal case faces long odds.”  Perhaps it’s because some felt Armitage’s position was “temporary,” yet the timing of his dismissal two weeks after publishing his paper seems suspect.  Perhaps it’s because he engaged students and co-workers in discussions about the implications of soft tissue in dinosaur bone.  According to Kemp, that could be grounds for dismissal in an academic environment:

In terms of getting his job back, those conversations might be Armitage’s undoing. US anti-discrimination laws require employers to reasonably accommodate an employee’s beliefs or religious practices, unless doing so would cause ‘undue hardship’ to the employer, says Justine Lisser, a spokesperson for the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

If Armitage made his living bending metal in a machine shop, an employer would find it difficult to show how his views caused undue hardship, she says. But in an academic setting, telling biology or palaeontology students that life began only a few thousand years ago more clearly undermines the institution’s goals. “It would be an easier showing of undue hardship,” says Lisser, “because it’s more related to the essence of what the person is doing.

Yet Coppedge was in a similar situation, running computer administration for the Cassini mission, not publishing scientific papers.  Armitage worked primarily as a microscopist at the lab; what he researched and published was on his own time outside of work.  His discussions apparently involved observable facts about fossil tissue, not religion.  Like Coppedge, Armitage was engaging co-workers and students informally, not in scientific conferences or as a professor.  Anyone was free at any time to ask not to discuss such things.

Will Armitage and the Pacific Justice Institute be able to show that his free speech was violated, and did not create any kind of “hardship” at the university?  Will CSUN’s lawyers be able to defend old ages and Darwinism as “the institution’s goals” that cannot be questioned?  Time will tell.

The phrase “managed to survive” is telling.  Nature and its reporter Christopher Kemp seem dumbfloundered that any Darwin doubter could survive so long in academia.  They should see survival as a sign of fitness, shouldn’t they?  Their opponents see their persecutors as too weak on sound arguments to have a reasoned discussion about the evidence, leading them to commit purges of their ranks in order to avoid the trauma of having their consensus dogmas questioned.

We wish Mark the best fortune in this attempt, but cannot feel confident that the legal system will give him justice, considering how intolerant and bigoted the DODO‘s are with their DOPE rule.  They have succeeded once again in positioning this as a science-vs-religion case, when it is really about observable scientific facts: stretchy tissue in bone the DODO’s believe must be over 65 million years old.  One’s religious positions should not matter if the facts are peer-reviewed and reported according to normal academic standards.  Such discrimination was never experienced by Faraday, Newton, Maxwell, and the others in our list of creationist scientists.

This is why Darwinists are like communists.  They scream for “academic freedom” and “tolerance” until they get power, then they deny it to everyone else.  Given what your Editor went through at JPL, I don’t trust any of them.  In my case, it was not about creationism even, but intelligent design.  Anything short of DODO is persecuted in academia, but young-earth creationism is especially targeted.  Mark faces an uphill battle; most likely, they will try to destroy his character like they tried to do with me.  One day, a case may break the back of the DODOs and expose them for the insufferable bigots they are.  If Mark wins, it will provide partial vindication for the others who tried to “tear down this wall” before him.



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  • rockyway says:

    It would be nice of some of our christian apologists and theologians would defend Armitage, but they haven’t in the past and I don’t expect them to in this case. It’s almost comical the way they will defend almost any sin or heresy going… but refuse to defend creationists.

  • Buho says:

    Keep us in the loop on this as it unfolds, Editor.

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