HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — An employee of the Staples Mill Road Baptist Church in Virginia received a phone call Monday that she said she knew was a long time coming.
She was fired, her employers told her. Fired because she was an unwed mother, she said.
“It hurts because I’ve grown up in a Christian home and Christian church my whole life,” Apryl Kellam told CBS 6.
In October, supervisors allegedly told Kellam, who is expecting a baby in April and has children from previous marriages, that she needed to marry her fiancé or at least announce a wedding date. If they did not marry soon, the church allegedly told Kellam, she would be fired from her job at the church daycare because she was in violation of church policy.
Kellam and her fiance James Coalson said they were floored by the church’s request.
"I want to wait so we can have all our family and friends there and have a big wedding," Kellam told CBS 6. "I just don't want to go to the courthouse and have someone marry us."
The church defended its decision on Monday. Pastor James Booth said that he was bound by laws not to say much because it was a personnel matter. He did say all employees are required to sign an employee handbook at the time of employment, Booth told CBS 6, and Kellam knew the rules.
"People are calling us judgmental, but that's judgmental, to say we're being judgmental when they don't know us," Booth told CBS 6. "They don't know our heart. We're not trying to be hurtful, we're just following our personnel handbook which is rotted in our statement of faith and our biblical beliefs."
Kellam, however, argues she never signed an employee handbook. She also claims she was upfront with the church about her living situation when she was hired.
“The only one who can judge me is God himself,” Kellam told CBS 6. .
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