A Catholic priest in Tennessee says an African American woman wasn’t allowed to clean his church home because his dog dislikes black people, media outlets report.
The woman wants the priest disciplined for discrimination, she says.
LaShundra Allen of Memphis got a job to clean the Catholic Church of the Incarnation in Collierville and the rectory where the priest lives, according to WHBQ. When she went to the church with the woman she was supposed to replace, Allen says she was rebuffed by staff, she told the Memphis TV station.
“Father Jacek (Kowal) doesn’t want black people cleaning the house because his dog is racist,” Allen remembers church staff telling her, according to WHBQ.
Allen called the priest discriminatory, according to WHBQ.
“That’s not OK,” she told WHBQ. “You just told me you didn’t want me in your house because I’m colored skinned.”
Kowal denied characterizations that he is racist in a statement to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Kowal said he’s concerned his German shepherd named Ceaser will harm Allen because the dog once had a bad experience with an African American person and has since acted aggressively toward strangers, especially black people, the newspaper reported.
“As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I wholeheartedly believe all forms of discrimination based upon race or ethnicity are sinful and wrong,” Kowal wrote in the statement, according to the newspaper. “As a pastor, I have ministered to, employed and worked with numerous African Americans. Their claim that I didn’t want an African -American to clean my rectory is simply not true.”
But Allen doesn’t believe the explanation. She and the woman she’s replacing asked if the dog could be crated while they cleaned, but Jacek said back-to-school activities didn’t allow him time for that, WHBQ reported.
Allen wants the Catholic Diocese of Memphis to discipline him and pay for compensatory damages, according to WATN.
An animal expert disputes claims that the dog is racist, according to WATN.
“There are no racist dogs,” said Brian Bailey of Taming the Wild, a dog-training service in Bartlett, according to WATN. “There just aren’t. There are none. They don’t understand that. They don’t have the cognitive recognition to understand the issues that we have as human beings in which we can judge by a color as far as the character of the human.”