Joseph Carson (
11 Jul 96 19:31:18 EDT

Dear ASA'ers,

Please let me know what you think of my intention to start an ASA SIG in
ASME and NSPE (unless ASA tells me not to). If you support the idea, please
send a email to the Rutherford Institute.


July 11, 1996

Mr. John Whitehead
Rutherford Institute
1445 East Rio Road
Charlottesville, VA 22906

phone: (804) 978-3888
fax: (804) 978-1789
email: <>
Worldwide Web: <>

Dear Mr. Whitehead,

I'm a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) who works for the US Department of
Energy. Several years ago, a situation arose in which I decided that the Code
of Ethics of Engineers, the Code of Federal Employees, and my conscience,
informed by my Christian faith, required me to speak out about safety
violations in DOE, in precisely the way an employee is supposed to. I've been
paying ever since for being a loyal, honest, and efficient employee of DOE.

I have now "prevailed" twice in whistleblower reprisal complaints against DOE
("prevail" means I get to keep my job - nothing happens to those guilty of the

This situation has given me occasion to closely examine how I integrate my
Christian metaphysic in my vocation and as well as to observe how I see other
Christian engineers doing (or not doing) likewise. I am aware of only one
Christian organization for engineers - the American Scientific Affiliation
(ASA.) ASA has been very supportive of my situation, which has been a real
test of my faith.

ASA has only about 2500 members, although there are probably several million
self-identifying evangelical Christians with the requisite technical training
to qualify for membership in ASA. Currently, ASA is composed primarily of
natural scientists who have vocations in academia.

I'm a member of two large voluntary engineering professional societies, the
70,000 member National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) and the
120,000 member American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME.) I have
approached the leadership of ASA, ASME, and NSPE about the feasibility of
establishing ASA Special Interest Groups (SIGs) within ASME and NSPE. The
point would be to establish a mechanism for Christians to better be "salt and
light" in their vocations through organized fellowship with other Christians
within these professional societies. ASA has not officially expressed either
support or opposition to the idea, but both ASME and NSPE have informally told
me that they would not allow any official standing to such a SIG.

As you are well aware, there are a number of rules that can constrain overt
Christian speech and action within the workplace. I realize the validity of
many of these rules as being appropriate expressions of the hierarchy present
in employee-employer relationships. A voluntary professional society is much
more egalitarian though and I don't understand the basis of its prohibition of
its members' expression of metaphysical principles and ability to associate,
within that society, based on metaphysical principles. Additionally, these
Professional Societies have given official standing to SIGs within them based
on age (under 35), race (minorities only), and sex (women only.) It seems to
me that using age, race, and sex as a basis for association is inherently more
exclusive than using adherence to credal or metaphysical principles.

I am contacting you to determine if the Rutherford Institute would be
interested in evaluating the legal basis of the positions that ASME and NSPE
have expressed to me and, if not, if could you direct me to someone who would.
I have been much influenced by the book THE NAKED PUBLIC SQUARE by John
Neuhaus, and this situation seems a perfect example of it. ASA wants positive
publicity and growth. If your organization expresses interest, ASA might
decide to get actively behind this issue. ASME and NSPE also want positive
publicity and growth. Many members of these organizations are Christians and
I think, with some gentle persuasion, this situation could be successfully

I can readily obtain copies of the by-laws of these organizations. I've
included some information about ASME that will give you some idea of its


Joseph Carson
10953 Twin Harbour Drive
Knoxville, TN 37922
(423) 675-0236


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Don Munro, ASA Executive Director