(OPINION) ETH – Rev. Junia Joplin, who was fired by her former church in Ontario, Canada, after coming out as transgender, has filed a lawsuit against the church for wrongful termination.

According to a report from Church Leaders Joplin pastored at Lorne Park Baptist Church in Mississauga and is seeking $200,000 in damages. “Too often, religion is used as a sort of blanket excuse to justify all kinds of bad behavior – including human rights violations,” said Joplin in a tweet about the suit. “That way of thinking needs to be challenged.”

Joplin’s suit alleges that Lorne Park Baptist Church broke the Human Rights Code by discriminating on the basis of gender identity and also posits that the church was “unfair” in how it went about deciding to terminate the pastor’s employment.


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This process included holding several town hall meetings, after which church members voted by a narrow margin to remove Joplin as pastor.  CTV News revealed that in a statement of claim not yet tested in court, Joplin says she received support from some members of the congregation and other Baptist churches and organizations after her announcement.

CBC News reported: The claim alleges that in the days that followed, the Mississauga, Ont., church unilaterally suspended her from her duties and gave no date for her return. The lawsuit alleges Joplin was then subjected to an “unfair process” that saw congregants question her in a series of virtual town halls and, in July 2020, vote to end her employment.

 

In an interview this week, Joplin said her firing, and the way it was carried out, left her with “a kind of anxiety around church work and church life” that she had never felt before. “Those were very much my first steps into social transition. That’s a hard place to be, I think just about any trans person will tell you that can feel frightening, feel vulnerable.

It’s a time when support is so essential and, unfortunately, for a lot of us we don’t get it in places like our workplace,” she said. “In the end, the congregation voted to terminate her employment as lead pastor of the church, with the majority of the votes to terminate made for theological reasons,” David Huctwith, chair of the church’s executive council, said in a statement.

“We offered her what we think was a fair severance.”  In an interview this week, Joplin said her firing, and the way it was carried out, left her with “a kind of anxiety around church work and church life” that she had never felt before. “Those were very much my first steps into social transition.

That’s a hard place to be. I think just about any trans person will tell you that can feel frightening, feel vulnerable. It’s a time when support is so essential and, unfortunately, for a lot of us we don’t get it in places like our workplace,” she said. “But for that to happen within that context of a caring community —

I think one of the toughest things for me was knowing that I’m going through one of the most consequential and difficult seasons that I’ll ever go through in my life and I’m pretty much isolated from my faith community, from the place that I would most naturally go to for support.”

Ricky Scaparo is the pastor and founder of the international ministry End Time Headlines. A ministry that provides resources to equip believers and to inform the discerning of the signs and seasons in which we live. His mission is to inform his readers and viewers of prophetic events and how they are unfolding before our very eyes through news and headlines presented from a prophetic perspective in light of the Holy Bible.