Creationist Litigation Update: 03 May 2015

The few court cases about creationism that are currently active aren’t generating much activity that we’ve noticed. Our last litigation update was at the end of last year. Despite the lack of news, this update is timely because, although most of our regular readers are already aware of these cases, a couple of them should be coming to trial this month.

As we remind you of what’s going on, it’s worth remembering that despite some earlier cases that were resolved by out-of-court settlements (presumably to avoid expense and publicity), there hasn’t been a successful creationist assault on evolution since the Scopes Trial in 1925 — almost a century ago — and on appeal it was overturned on a technicality.

Here are the cases we’re watching:

1 The Mark Armitage Case: Armitage is the young-Earth creationist microscope technologist suing to get his job back at California State University, Northridge. He’s whining about “viewpoint discrimination,” and he claims he has Evolutionists On The Run. The last time there was any news to write about was our Update for 05 Nov 2014, but it wasn’t much.

This is a copy of the complaint that was filed: Mark Armitage vs. Board of Trustees of the California State University, et al. (21-page pdf file). You can check the court docket here Los Angeles Superior Court to see what’s been filed. If you go there, click on “Access your case” and enter case number BC552314. We just checked. There have been some motion hearings, but we’re not told what they were about. On 16 August 2016 there will be a Final Status Conference, and on 22 August 2016 the jury trial will begin. Nothing has been reported in the press. This one has a long way to go, but we’ll keep watching.

2 The Kent Hovind Case: Back in November we wrote Kent Hovind Indicted Again. Poor ol’ “Dr. Dino” was just about to be released to a halfway house after nearly eight years in prison, but he just can’t get a break — nor, it seems, can he control himself. This is more of a tax-protester case than a creationism case, but as we’ve often said, the two movements exhibit similar behavior — see Creationists and Tax Protesters.

Six weeks ago we wrote Kent Hovind Will Be Tried Again. He was found guilty on one count (contempt) and the jury couldn’t reach a verdict on some others (fraud and conspiracy). The government requested a new trial on the remaining counts and that trial is set for 18 May — two weeks from now. We’ll keep watching.

3 The John Oller Case: Oller is not only a creationist, he has other unusual views. He seems to be an anti-vaxxer. Oller sued the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he was (and still is) a professor. The complaint alleged that faculty members of the university’s Communicative Disorders Department discriminated against him in various administrative ways and marginalized his position because of his beliefs. But he wasn’t fired. The trial court dismissed his case and ruled that whatever slights and disappointments Oller may have experienced, they were within the university’s discretion and didn’t amount to a violation of his civil rights. Back in September we wrote: John Oller Has Filed an Appeal. Then, a month ago we wrote John Oller Loses His Appeal — Maybe. Despite our tentative title, it turns out that the appeal had indeed failed.

However, we haven’t heard the last of this. When his federal suit was dismissed back in September, Oller filed a state court case against the University. There’s never been any press coverage of that. One of our operatives occasionally informs about that case. There were summary judgment motions pending which may dispose of some issues, but the case a long way from trial. That’s all we know at the moment.

4 The David McConaghie Case: This one is everybody’s favorite. He’s the creationist preacher and Northern Ireland political operative who was arrested in connection with the discovery of a hidden camera found in the loo of Democratic Unionist Party member David Simpson’s constituency office. After a remarkably long investigation, he was finally charged with voyeurism. For some reason, the trial has been delayed several times. Our last post on this was a few weeks ago: David McConaghie Update — 11 March 2015. We expected the trial to be starting soon, but there hasn’t been any news. We should be learning something any day now, so stay tuned to this blog!

5 Ken Ham’s Litigation: Answers in Genesis is suing the state of Kentucky because of the state’s denial of their Ark project’s application to participate in a tourism tax incentive program. The case is still in the preliminary states. Our last update was a month ago: Ken Ham’s Litigation: Americans United Joins In. That’s all we know for the moment.

6 The Kansas NGSS Case: Our last update on this was a month ago: Creationists’ Brief Is Filed. The creationists’ suit attempting to block Kansas from implementing the state’s evolution-friendly science education standards had been dismissed by the trial court so they appealed. We’ve heard no news since, but we’re watching.

7 Bryan College Litigation: This is a suit filed by two tenured professors, Stephen Barnett and Steven DeGeorge, who lost their jobs at Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee, the site of the Scopes Trial. The college was named in honor of William Jennings Bryan — the great creationist blowhard.

The professors were fired because they refused to accept the college’s recent “clarification” of its statement of faith, which is now far more explicit than before about the special creation of Adam & Eve. The professors sued the school to get their jobs back, and to have the “clarification” declared void, because the original statement of faith — which they accept — says it can’t be changed. As we like to point out, the Discoveroids, who are always whining and complaining about “viewpoint discrimination,” haven’t said anything in defense of the two professors.

Our last post about the case was the Creationist Litigation Update: 13 Aug 2014. At that time we learned that the trial had been set for May 2015. There hasn’t been any news since — except for one brief mention in this newspaper story in the the Herald-News of Dayton, Tennessee, about local events: TOP 14 STORIES OF 2014. In discussing this case, they say: “The professors reached an undisclosed settlement with the school later in 2014.” So maybe the case was settled. That’s all we know,

So there you are. There may be three different cases coming to trial this month. The one about Bryan College (unless it’s been settled), the Kent Hovind case, and the David McConaghie case. These are exciting times, dear reader. Stay tuned to this blog!

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7 responses to “Creationist Litigation Update: 03 May 2015

  1. waldteufel

    Once again, our esteemed Curmudgeon demonstrates what a great resource he is for keeping up with creationist shenanigans. Thanks!

    Also, a quick thanks is in order for your hurricane links, which are very useful to those of us who live along the Gulf Coast.

  2. 7 Bryan College Litigation: This is a suit filed by two tenured professors, Stephen Barnett and Steven DeGeorge, who lost their jobs at Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee, the site of the Scopes Trial. The college was named in honor of William Jennings Bryan — the great creationist blowhard.

    This is actually unfair to Bryan, who before becoming obsessed with evolution took progressive stands on a number of issues. He favored women’s suffrage, for example, at a time when giving women the vote was seen as a crank idea, and resigned as secretary of state for the Woodrow Wilson administration in 1915 over President Wilson’s steady drift toward active U.S. military participation in World War I.

    It was during and after that conflict that Bryan became convinced that belief in evolution had encouraged German militarism and that it threatened to undermine democracy at home. Since he believed that the Bible was the one true guide to morality, he feared the consequences of any challenge to its authority–which meant, inevitably, that he had to oppose evolution, which upended Genesis. He became a zealot on that issue, which earlier had not been important to him; “blowhard,” though, is perhaps too strong a term, his portrayal in Inherit the Wind notwithstanding.

  3. Stephen Kennedy

    I will be watching the Armitage case very carefully. My eldest son graduates from CSU Sacramento this month with bachelors degrees in both Geology and Physics. He has received and accepted an offer of admissions from CSU Northridge for position in their Geophysics program.

    CSU Northridge seems to have done the right thing in firing this guy as soon as the university learned he was a creationist. If they had done anything else I would have been worried about the scientific rigor and integrity of their science departments.

  4. Stephen Kennedy

    In regard to Geophysics, Hambo’s pet geologist has posted an especially brainless article about the so called flood.

    What is really infuriating about it is that he implies the geological community supports flood geology, that it is an active area of research in mainstream Geology and gives no hint that nearly all real geologists consider Snelling and the few other creationists nitwits.

  5. “Voyeurism”. That sounds like observational science to me.

    It is an activist’s answer to Ken Ham’s challenge: “Were you there? ” The voyeur says, “No. But I watched!”

  6. Eric Lipps wrote: “his portrayal in Inherit the Wind notwithstanding.”

    Yes, it is sad that Bryan is so dishonestly portray. Inherit the Wind was a hatchet job with very little basis in actual fact. Sadly, so many people have adopted that fiction as fact. The actual story of the Scopes Trial was actually far more interesting than the movie. Its main purpose was bringing business to the town’s merchants and Scopes never had actually taught any evolution. (He was hired as a substitute and was supposed to help the class prepare for the final exam. But he’d actually skipped the evolution chapter even though he was supposed to cover it. He was talked into playing along with the farce of a trial and he was told that he wouldn’t have to pay any resulting fines out of his own pocket.)

    At the time, I suppose Bryan was best known for things like hating the gold standard. But Ken Ham wouldn’t have liked him because if I recall properly, he wasn’t a Young Earth Creationist. Didn’t he leave open various interpretations for the meaning of “day”? In any case, he didn’t have a “mental breakdown” at the conclusion of the case before leaving the courtroom. That’s for sure.

  7. I see that a typo confused my comment: “Yes, it is sad that Bryan is so dishonestly portray.

    [*Voice from above*] Okay. Now what about “portray”? Would you prefer “portrayed”?