- (Photo: Facebook/Lawrence Khong)
The Faith Community Baptist Church in Singapore has been ordered to pay $5,500 in salary to a woman who was fired allegedly for committing adultery.
The megachurch, which is home to over 10,000 members and is one of the largest in Singapore, has said that it will abide by the court order, the Associated Press reported, though it insisted that it was right to fire the woman last September.
"If we concede that the dismissal was unjust, it means we are condoning adultery and it will weaken our moral and spiritual authority in the organization," said the church's senior pastor, Lawrence Khong, who founded the church in 1986.
The woman apparently handled administrative duties for the church, and was finalizing her divorce when she found out that she was pregnant with the child of another church worker, who later resigned. Straits Times newspaper noted that church officials had told the woman to end her relationship if she wanted to keep her job.
She then filed a complaint to Singapore's Ministry of Manpower, which on Tuesday declared itself pleased with the court's decision, sharing with AP that it was "satisfied that she was dismissed without sufficient cause within six months of her delivery date."
Faith Community Baptist had initially refused to pay any maternity benefits to the woman, but the Asian country's labor laws protect female workers from dismissal if they are at least four months pregnant.
"This kind of behavior (by the church) is archaic and has no place in a modern country that has ambitions to become a global city," said Singaporean political commentator P. N. Balji, arguing that the government's decision was made "according to the letter of the law."
In its mission statement, the church says: "FCBC continues to extend the Kingdom of God to the multitudes by preaching and teaching the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit and training committed followers of Christ."
In January, Khong warned Singapore's former prime minister against plans to repeal the country's homosexual laws, which ban same-sex relations between men.
"Examples from around the world have shown that the repeal of similar laws have led to negative social changes, especially the breakdown of the family as a basic building block and foundation of the society," Khong said in a statement.
Gay rights activists have challenged this law and have been campaigning to have it repealed.