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Woman Claims Tennessee Church Fired Her for Marrying Black Man

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By Benge Nsenduluka, CP Reporter
December 16, 2011|4:03 pm

A woman has filed a lawsuit against Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville, Tennessee, claiming she was fired for marrying a black man.

Debra Dodd, who worked as a secretary for the church for two years, claims she was well respected by the church until she married Michael Hampton in 2008.

"Then suddenly it went downhill. All of the sudden my clothes were not appropriate, I was not doing my job right. People stopped looking at me. They would turn their faces away from me," Dodd said, according to The Huntsville Times.

Dodd alleges that members of the "all-white" congregation spotted her eating with Hampton at a local restaurant and their attitudes immediately changed towards her, according to Mail Online.

The church's pastor, Rev. Tim Smith, suggested Dodd is not being completely honest. Smith spoke directly with The Christian Post and confirmed a lawsuit has indeed been filed.

"There's more to the story than what she (Dodd) is saying," Smith said.

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When CP asked Smith to elaborate he advised that he did not want to jeopardize existing matters. "We can't comment on pending litigation," Smith explained.

Dodd, who is a white woman, is suing the congregation for racial discrimination and back wages. She is also seeking $500,000 in punitive damages, according to reports.

Dodd claims that when Hampton visited the church accompanied by a black companion, church members did not give them a warm welcome.

"There were comments about the "colored boys in the back,"' Dodd said.

The church claims to have a "socially progressive tradition" on its website.

 "Cumberland Presbyterians were among the first denominations to admit women to their educational institutions and to accept them in leadership roles including the ordained clergy," it boasts.

CP was unable to confirm what percentage of the church's congregation is white, but when asked whether the church has a racially diverse congregation, Smith insisted "Yes we do."

The controversy follows a disturbing report earlier this month that Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church in Kentucky placed a ban on interracial couples. Although Gulnare Free Will Church denies the ban was motivated by racism, it sparked international outrage.

The ban has reportedly since been overturned.

 

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