SINGAPORE - THE judicial review being sought by the Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC) on the Manpower Minister's decision over the sacking of a worker should not be seen as a Church versus State matter, said the National Council of Churches (NCCS) on Thursday.
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Here is an excerpt from the NCCS letter to its member churches:
With reference to the current judicial review application by Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC), which feels aggrieved and concerned that its action of dismissing one of its staff over a moral issue was deemed by the Ministry of Manpower to be "a dismissal without sufficient cause".
We wish to make clear that from our perspective, this course of action is not to be framed as a Church versus State matter. Rather, We see the case as one of employer's employee's obligations and duties under the employment Act and the common law in this area.
Since the application for judicial review has already been filed, we have confidence that the courts will shed light on the matter and decide what is right in the interpretation and application of the law of the land in such instances.
Church wants review of minister's order to compensate axed employee
By Toh Yong Chuan
Thorny questions of adultery, church and state are set to be aired in a rare High Court legal review being sought by one of the largest churches in Singapore.
The case involves a pregnant administrative worker at the Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC) who was sacked last year after committing adultery.
She complained to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in September last year. In August this year, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin decided she was "dismissed without sufficient cause". He ordered the church to compensate the woman's salary and maternity benefits of $7,000.
The church told The Straits Times that it plans to file papers today seeking a High Court judicial review of Mr Tan's decision.
A judicial review is when an applicant takes a public authority to court to seek redress of a particular decision over which the applicant feels aggrieved.
The church says it wants the case reviewed as it believes Mr Tan acted unconstitutionally in interfering with how the church manages its own affairs.
But this disclosure prompted the ministry last night to caution the church that it is embarking on a confrontational approach.
Such judicial reviews by a church are rare. The FCBC is believed to be the first religious body seeking a High Court review over how it conducts its affairs.
The church's senior pastor Lawrence Khong denied that he is putting the church on a confrontational path with the Government.
"What we are seeking is a clarification from the court on the parameters within which we operate as a church," he said.
"I hope that this experience will bring deeper understanding of one another and greater mutual respect."
Last night, the ministry said it will study the court documents when it receives them.
Expressing disappointment, an MOM spokesman said: "We live in a secular society where laws have been put in place to protect individuals while not depriving religious organisations and individuals of the space to carry out their practices."
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