Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
California Science Center
The state-run California Science Center has agreed to pay $110,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging it had censored a two-film debate from its IMAX theater after it learned one of the films would advocate Intelligent Design.
But after the CSC canceled the event – allegedly because of pressure from within the academic community – the AFA filed a lawsuit asserting the CSC had not only breached its contract but also violated the AFA’s First Amendment, free speech rights.
As part of the settlement, the CSC must now not only pay the AFA $110,000 but also publicly invite the group to return to show “Darwin’s Dilemma,” the film that first caused the controversy two years ago.
“This is the first free speech victory for the Intelligent Design movement,” commented William J. Becker Jr. of The Becker Law Firm, counsel for AFA. “It represents an acknowledgement that a state-owned science institution sought to censor an event solely because it related to the topic of Intelligent Design. Those who find Intelligent Design credible have the same the constitutionally protected free speech rights as anyone else.”
Intelligent Design challenges the fundamental foundation of evolutionary theory, arguing the complexities of life bear evidence of a designer.
The AFA had originally planned to spark debate on the topic by showing the pro-evolution film “We Are Born of Stars” as well as “Darwin’s Dilemma: The Mystery of the Cambrian Fossil Record,” which argues against evolution by questioning the absence of any fossil record predating the Cambrian period.
The AFA’s lawsuit claimed the science center’s CEO “was pressured to cancel the event by colleagues at the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Southern California, the Huntington Library and elsewhere.”
But as a state agency, the lawsuit said, the CSC is not allowed to “suppress legitimate discussion.”
“Certain museum officials and their cronies in academia and throughout the scientific community are part of a subtle but effective movement to marginalize a scientific theory that challenges their worldview,” said Becker at the time.
“The public should be allowed to make up its own mind whether Intelligent Design has any merit,” he said. “Any time public officials stand in the way of legitimate debate, they reveal their hostility toward intellectual freedom, which the Constitution is designed to safeguard.”