The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) has asked an N.C. court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by an African American woman who alleges that she was fired because of her race.

The association, which is based in Minnesota but has its main office in Charlotte, asked that the lawsuit be dismissed based on “church autonomy.”

In the complaint filed June 22, Kimberly McCallum of Charlotte alleged that BGEA fired her after she complained that black churches were being deliberately omitted from a list of local congregations invited to a BGEA event.

McCallum began working at the Billy Graham ministry in October 2003.

In February ’07, the suit alleges, she was recruited to work as an administrative assistant in the association’s Global Ministries division. She said she was the only African American employee working in the executive offices.

In July of that year, she said, she was asked to help with a program called “Dare to be Daniel.” Her job included contacting churches that BGEA routinely invited to crusades and other events.

While working on that project, her lawsuit alleges, McCallum noticed that only three of the 635 churches on the list were “primarily African American.” Not only that, she said, it appeared that some black congregations were “deliberately skipped over” in favor of white churches on the same streets.

McCallum said she complained to several BGEA executives and was told one week later that her department was being downsized and her job was being eliminated.

The lawsuit alleges that McCallum later learned that her department had not been downsized. It also alleges that a white employee in housekeeping was promoted into a job for which she (McCallum) was better qualified.

The lawsuit alleges that McCallum was fired “with the intended purpose of discriminating against the plaintiff on account of her race and in retaliation of her complaint of racism in the workplace.”

Officials at the Billy Graham association could not be reached for comment Thursday but has denied the allegation in court papers as well as in published reports.

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