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Evangelical group, ex-missionary suing

Nov. 30, 2010 at 7:04 PM   |   Comments

TORONTO, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- A Canadian fired by an evangelical Christian group is suing for wrongful dismissal, and is being countersued for misappropriating a donor list.

Marcello Araujo worked in Canada for 12 years for Jews for Jesus, a group dedicated to converting Jews to Christianity, The (Toronto) Globe and Mail reported Tuesday.

Araujo was terminated when the group discovered he had married in alleged violation of its Worker's Covenant, which Araujo said he never signed because he disagreed with it.

Araujo had traveled across Canada working as a missionary for Jews for Jesus and developed a list of about 5,000 donors to group. After he was fired in 2005, he worked for a rival group, Chosen People Ministries Canada, the newspaper said.

Jews for Jesus countersued, alleging Araujo used its donor list to solicit money for Chosen People. Araujo said he did nothing wrong, that he contacted only those donors he had developed relationships with during his tenure with Jews for Jesus.

The lawsuit will determine who gets the donor list when a missionary becomes the employee of another organization, The Globe and Mail said.

"This is a unique case," said the Rev. John Pellowe, chief executive of the Canadian Council of Christian Charities, which oversees both groups.

Pellowe said Chosen People eventually agreed to return the donor list names, but Jews for Jesus is still going after Araujo in court.

Ben Volman, the Toronto director of Chosen People, said evangelical groups have difficulties raising money, and missionaries "are highly pressured to build donor lists. Do you think the organization just says when the missionary walks away, 'Oh well, I guess we'll just let you take your list with you?' Organizations have a tendency, naturally, to see donors who've been acquired as their property."

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