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A lawsuit has been filed by a former maintenance worker at Maritime National Historic Park in San Francisco for being fired after performing a baptism for a park visitor during his lunch break.

The case has been documented by Courthouse News, which said Roger Holly’s complaint against the Department of the Interior and his supervisors appeared this week in federal court.

Court documents say Holly, a Baptist minister, reported he baptized a park visitor in the ocean during his lunch break in November 2013. He reported he was out of uniform and simply “helped dunk the visitor into the ocean.”

“The religious ‘ceremony’ Holly performed did not include any outward, objective display of religion, such as reading sacred texts, public prayer, sermonizing or the like. It simply appeared that two persons were swimming in the ocean, much like other park visitors,” CN quoted from the complaint.

He then was interrogated by his supervisor, Robert Kier, who is named as defendant.

Holly reported he assured Kier he would not baptize someone while he was supposed to be working, or in his National Park Service uniform.

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But he was terminated shortly after.

The complaint notes, “The final agency decision further noted defendant Kier’s testimony that ‘he discussed with complainant the inappropriateness of it [talking to people that needed or wanted Jesus] because religious matters are to remain one’s personal domain.”

The claim suggests a racial overtone to the case involving Holly, who is black.

“He also claims he was not allowed to invite people into the maintenance shop because of his race, though other employees were allowed to bring family and friends inside,” CN reported.

The case was brought by Alan Reinach, of the Church State Council, a religious liberty ministry of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Baptism by immersion, as opposed to baptism by sprinkling or another method, is practiced by numerous Christian denominations, including most Baptists.

 

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