Creationism at issue in employment dispute?


"No one denies that astronomer Martin Gaskell was the leading candidate for the founding director of a new observatory at the University of Kentucky in 2007 — until his writings on evolution came to light," reports the Louisville Courier-Journal (December 10, 2010). "Gaskell had given lectures to campus religious groups around the country in which he said that while he has no problem reconciling the Bible with the theory of evolution, he believes the theory has major flaws. And he recommended students read ... critics [of evolution] in the intelligent-design movement." As a result, Gaskell was not appointed to the position, and subsequently filed suit against the university in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky on July 10, 2009, alleging that he was not appointed "because of his religious beliefs and his expression of these beliefs" in violation of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991.

According to the Courier-Journal, the university "acknowledged that concerns over Gaskell's views on evolution played a role in the decision to chose another candidate. But it argued that this was a valid scientific concern" — particularly with regard to the prospect that Gaskell's views on evolution would interfere with his ability to serve effectively as director of the observatory — "and that there were other factors, including a poor review from a previous supervisor and UK faculty views that he was a poor listener." On November 23, 2010, the court denied the defendant's and the plaintiff's separate requests for summary judgment, noting, "The parties greatly debate exactly what Gaskell personally believes regarding the theory of evolution and the Bible." A jury trial is expected to commence in Lexington, Kentucky, on February 8, 2011. Documents from the case, C. Martin Gaskell v. University of Kentucky, are available on NCSE's website.