SANTA ANA, Calif. — A Southern California church can fire an unmarried preschool teacher living with her boyfriend and their child, an appeals court has ruled.

Sara Henry filed a wrongful termination lawsuit after she was fired in May 2009 for living arrangements contrary to the religious beliefs of Tustin's Red Hill Lutheran Church and its school.

The 4th District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana last week upheld a lower court ruling in favor of church.

The appeals court said that Henry was fired because she lived with her boyfriend in a sexual relationship while unmarried, a violation of church belief. The court noted she wasn't terminated because she had a baby out of wedlock. Red Hill Lutheran says on its website that it is a member of conservative-leaning Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, which was formed by several congregations that left the more liberal Evangelical Lutheran Church in America over theological differences.