Suspect in Colorado anti-evolution death threats case is missing

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Young Earth Creationist Menachem "Michael" Korn, suspected of sending death threats to various biology faculty and others at the University of Colorado at Boulder, is apparently missing or on the lam. Although the police said they will not name the individual in question until the person is arrested, previous reports and comments by faculty and staff at the university made it clear that Korn is the man in question.

Action was taken recently after the threatening behavior escalated and the letters passed beyond being a nuisance. It had gotten to the point where one graduate student and one faculty member were scared about entering the department out of concern for their safety. Korn, a former Messianic Jew who now self-identifies as Christian, allegedly sent various anti-evolution letters to faculty at the university.

Cquote1.svg ... every true Christian should be ready and willing to take up arms to kill the enemies of Christian society. But I believe it is far more effective to take up a pen to kill the enemies of Truth Cquote2.svg

—Menachem "Michael" Korn

Pictures of Korn have now been distributed to faculty with instructions to call police if Korn is spotted. Before going missing, Korn had refused to respond in detail to media requests for his side of the story, but he had sent emails to the Denver Post and has sent copies of those emails to other media sources, such as Wired. Korn later contacted Wired by telephone where he claimed to be unavailable since he was "traveling" and refused to discuss the letters in detail but spent most of the discussion focusing on claimed flaws in evolution.

A university spokesperson has speculated that one reason police have been reluctant to formally name Korn is that the threats may have not crossed the line of what legally constitute death threats. For example, Korn said that "He [pastor Jerry Gibson] said that every true Christian should be ready and willing to take up arms to kill the enemies of Christian society. But I believe it is far more effective to take up a pen to kill the enemies of Truth." Jeffry Mitton, a professor at the University, has filed for a restraining order against Korn.

Although the United States has had vigorous debate over the Creation-evolution controversy, and anti-evolutionists have engaged in threats and physical violence in some heavily Islamic countries such as Turkey, to date there have been no serious violent incidents in the United States. One possible exception is the unconfirmed attack on Paul Mirecki, a professor at the University of Kansas, in 2005. However, this may have been in response to other comments made by Mirecki that were about the more general culture wars and the Religious right in the United States and not about evolution in particular.

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