Billy Hallowell | July 25, 2014
A former scientist at California State University, Northridge in Los Angeles is suing the public college over the claim that he was wrongly terminated due to his religious views.
Mark Armitage, a scientist for over 30 years, reportedly lost his job after discovering soft tissue on a dinosaur fossil and subsequently publishing information about the find in an academic journal, according to a press release from the Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative legal firm.
According to the lawsuit, Armitage discovered a triceratops horn back in 2012 at the Hell Creek Formation in Montana, a well-known fossil site. Later, after examining it under a high-powered microscope, he located soft tissue that hadn’t yet fossilized.
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The development surprised some faculty and students, according to the press release, “because it indicates that dinosaurs roamed the earth only thousands of years in the past rather than going extinct 60 million years ago.”
“Since some creationists, like [Armitage], believe that the triceratops bones are only 4,000 years old at most, [Armitage’s] work vindicated his view that these dinosaurs roamed the planet relatively recently,” the lawsuit reads, according to KCAL-TV.
After discussing the horn with students at the school one day, Armitage, who taught students how to use high-powered microscopes at the school’s Electron and Confocal Microscopy Suite, was apparently reported by one of the students to his supervisor, World News reported.
That supervisor then allegedly questioned Armitage’s motivation, telling him that the school would not “tolerate” his religion in the department and slamming his creationist views.
While the professor was reportedly assured by the head of the biology department that this was an isolated incident and that his views would be respected, his problems apparently intensified thereafter.
Just two weeks after publishing his soft-tissue findings in the peer-reviewed journal “Acta Histochemica,” Armitage was reportedly told that his 38-month appointment was only temporary and that there weren’t funds to continue his position, according to World.
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Now, Armitage is fighting back against what he believes was an unfair dismissal, filing a lawsuit against the school’s board of trustees.
“Terminating an employee because of their religious views is completely inappropriate and illegal,” Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, said in a statement. “But doing so in an attempt to silence scientific speech at a public university is even more alarming.”
California State University, Northridge spokeswoman Carmen Chandler told TheBlaze in an email that the school currently has no comment on the case.
“I am afraid we have not been served with the lawsuit yet, so there is nothing we can say about something we have not seen,” she said in an email.
Armitage is a member of the Creation Research Society and has served on its board of directors since 2006.