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Was this religious discrimination?

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – An astronomer argues that his Christian faith and his peers' belief that he is an evolution skeptic kept him from getting a prestigious job as the director of a new student observatory at the University of Kentucky.

Martin Gaskell quickly rose to the top of a list of applicants being considered by the university's search committee. One member said he was "breathtakingly above the other applicants."

Others openly worried his Christian faith could conflict with his duties as a scientist, calling him "something close to a creationist" and "potentially evangelical."

Even though Gaskell says he is not a creationist, he claims he was passed over for the job at UK's MacAdam Student Observatory three years ago because of his religion and statements that were perceived to be critical of the theory of evolution.

Gaskell has sued the university, claiming lost income and emotional distress. Last month a judge rejected a motion from the university and allowed it to go to trial Feb. 8.

Science professors also expressed concern that hiring Gaskell would damage the university's image

Answer Question
 
sweet-a-kins

Asked by sweet-a-kins at 1:02 PM on Dec. 17, 2010 in Religious Debate

Level 34 (67,502 Credits)
Answers (20)
  • sweet-a-kins

    Comment by sweet-a-kins (original poster) at 1:05 PM on Dec. 17, 2010

  • If he has used his classroom as a pulpit, then this was a very valid concern on the part of the university as religion is not in the curriculum of most university astronomy programs.
    If he kept his beliefs out of his classroom, then yes it is discrimination.
    twinsplus2more

    Answer by twinsplus2more at 1:07 PM on Dec. 17, 2010

  • What were the statements he made that caused concern. I mean if he's going around saying earth is only 5000 years old and dinosaurs were planted by God to confuse us, and such, then I can see the University's concern. But if he's just Christian, but also rational then it could be discrimination.
    SuperChicken

    Answer by SuperChicken at 1:09 PM on Dec. 17, 2010

  • Isn't it illegal to even ask someone's religion while hiring? How did they even find out?
    LindaClement

    Answer by LindaClement at 1:09 PM on Dec. 17, 2010

  • He included the Bible in his lectures, according to the article, and said that evolution has "unnecessary atheistic assumptions."
    SuperChicken

    Answer by SuperChicken at 1:12 PM on Dec. 17, 2010

  • Science professors cited a lecture Gaskell has given called "Modern Astronomy, the Bible and Creation," which he developed for "Christians and others interested in Bible and science questions...," according to an outline of the lecture. Gaskell told the AP he was invited to give the lecture at UK in 1997, and organizers had read his notes.


    The wide-ranging lecture outlines historical scientific figures who discuss God and interpretations of the creation story in the biblical chapter Genesis. Also in the notes, Gaskell mentions evolution, saying the theory has "significant scientific problems" and includes "unwarranted atheistic assumptions and extrapolations," according to court records.


     

    sweet-a-kins

    Comment by sweet-a-kins (original poster) at 1:12 PM on Dec. 17, 2010

  • Gaskell was briefly asked about the lecture during his job interview in 2007 with the chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Michael Cavagnero, according to Gaskell's deposition. Gaskell said he felt that questions related to religion during the job interview were "inappropriate."

    sweet-a-kins

    Comment by sweet-a-kins (original poster) at 1:12 PM on Dec. 17, 2010

  • I guess it depends, was the person they hired just as qualified for the position as he was? If so, he will have a heard time proving that it was religious discrimination.

    JeremysMom

    Answer by JeremysMom at 1:15 PM on Dec. 17, 2010

  • It sounds like he wants it both ways. If he wants to lecture and present papers on religion, then he needs to be prepared to discuss it during an interview.
    DEpley

    Answer by DEpley at 1:16 PM on Dec. 17, 2010

  • I looked up other articles that state he also wasn't hired because of poor reviews from his previous supervisor and complaints that he is a poor listener. I'm paraphrasing from a few articles, but I'm sure people can google if they're interested.
    SuperChicken

    Answer by SuperChicken at 1:24 PM on Dec. 17, 2010

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