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Biologist Faces Inquisition at the Smithsonian

John G. West

Today’s Wall Street Journal is running a shocking article reporting on an alleged campaign of harassment and intimidation by Darwinists at the taxpayer-funded Smithsonian Institution. The target? Biologist Richard Sternberg. Sternberg, you may recall, was the biology journal editor who had the courage to allow publication of Discovery Fellow Stephen Meyer’s article supportive of intelligent design after it had been approved through the standard peer-review process. At the time, Sternberg attracted a firestorm of criticism from Darwinists outside the Smithsonian. Now it appears that officials at the Smithsonian have tried to destroy Sternberg’s career and drive him from his position. The federal government’s Office of Special Counsel is currently investigating whether Sternberg’s civil rights have been violated. Among other things, Smithsonian officials allegedly engaged in an extraordinary witch hunt to try to uncover Sternberg’s religious and political beliefs—as if belief in God is now tantamount to a crime. According to the article, if you have any religious beliefs at all, the Smithsonian is not a very friendly place to work:

the chairman of the Zoology Department, Jonathan Coddington, called Mr. Sternberg’s supervisor. According to Mr. Sternberg’s OSC complaint: “First, he asked whether Sternberg was a religious fundamentalist. She told him no. Coddington then asked if Sternberg was affiliated with or belonged to any religious organization. . . . He then asked where Sternberg stood politically; . . . he asked, ‘Is he a right-winger? What is his political affiliation?’ ” The supervisor (who did not return my phone messages) recounted the conversation to Mr. Sternberg, who also quotes her observing: “There are Christians here, but they keep their heads down.”

Worries about being perceived as “religious” spread at the museum. One curator, who generally confirmed the conversation when I spoke to him, told Mr. Sternberg about a gathering where he offered a Jewish prayer for a colleague about to retire. The curator fretted: “So now they’re going to think that I’m a religious person, and that’s not a good thing at the museum.

And people wonder why some scientists are afraid to openly express their skepticism of Darwin’s theory?

John G. West

Senior Fellow, Managing Director, and Vice President of Discovery Institute
Dr. John G. West is Vice President of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and Managing Director of the Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Formerly the Chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at Seattle Pacific University, West is an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker who has written or edited 12 books, including Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science, The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, and Walt Disney and Live Action: The Disney Studio’s Live-Action Features of the 1950s and 60s. His documentary films include Fire-Maker, Revolutionary, The War on Humans, and (most recently) Human Zoos. West holds a PhD in Government from Claremont Graduate University, and he has been interviewed by media outlets such as CNN, Fox News, Reuters, Time magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.

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