Out of Court

Last September, Steve Bitterman was fired from Southwestern Community College in Iowa for telling his Western civilization class that the biblical story of Adam and Eve shouldn’t be taken literally—but rather as a meaningful story that should be read metaphorically and symbolically—and that they should question their religious beliefs. Some students complained. Now, he’s settled his wrongful termination claim against the college for 20,000 dollars, according to The Des Moines Register.
Bitterman says he’s satisfied with the settlement, but thinks “there’s still a political atmosphere that tends to suppress any unorthodox ways of thinking about history and philosophy. There’s been a battle between science and religion for a long time … I don’t see it changing a whole lot in the next century or two.” —Heather Wax

Headed to Court

Back in December, we told you about Christine Comer, who was forced to resign as the director of science curriculum for the Texas Education Agency after she forwarded an email message from the National Center for Science Education (a pro-evolution group) announcing that Barbara Forrest would be speaking in Austin about the “intelligent design” movement in a talk called “Inside Creationism’s Trojan Horse.” Comer said she was just passing on information; the agency saw it a bias endorsement and terminated her employment. Now, Comer has filed a lawsuit against the agency and Education Commissioner Robert Scott, saying that she was illegally fired and giving us a better and clearer look at the chain of events and the emails that were sent around.
In brief: Comer says she was fired because she wasn’t neutral on the topic of creationism, as the agency requires—a policy that is unconstitutional because it endorses religion, she says. She’s asking the court to overturn the policy, declare her firing unconstitutional, and require the agency to give her back her job. —Heather Wax

Thrown Out of Court

Back in December, Nathaniel Abraham, a former postdoc researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and a Christian biologist, sued the institute in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, saying he was fired because he believes in creationism rather than evolution. The lawsuit has now been thrown out since Abraham didn’t file his complaint within the time limit required by the law. According to the National Center for Science Education, Woods Hole ‘s lawyers moved for a dismissal on this basis, but were ready to defend the institution by arguing that accepting well-established principles of developmental biology, including evolution, is implicitly a requirement of employment at the research center. —Heather Wax

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