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Senior Housing Complex Threatens To Evict Christian Residents for Having Bible Study as If It Were Some Kind of Unlawful Meeting – ACLJ Fought Back and Won


Garrett Taylor

March 18

4 min read

Religious Liberty



We have seen an increased attack on Christians, Bible studies, and prayer groups at senior centers and retirement housing communities. Unfortunately, over the last six months, we have received a drastic increase in legal requests regarding discriminatory conduct by apartment and housing complexes all over the country. Each situation has been eerily similar. Whether it’s management prohibiting a resident-led Bible study or preventing residents from having religious decorations, we have successfully represented victims of this illegal conduct in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Missouri. Yet the attacks continue.

This time, we took swift action on behalf of multiple residents at a 55+ community in Colorado. Not only did this complex deny our clients the ability to have a Bible study or religious decorations, but it also threatened eviction if they did so. As soon as we found out about this egregious conduct, we fired off a demand letter.

The illegal conduct began before Christmas. Management informed residents of an upcoming “Holiday Balcony Contest” and allowed a variety of decorations with one notable exception. Management required residents to “keep all decorations neutral (no RELIGIOUS or political affiliations.)” Fast forward two months later, and the religious discrimination continued.

Many residents, including our clients, recently approached management multiple times attempting to have a Bible study and to put up religious decorations. Our clients could not help but notice the complex regularly hosts resident events such as card games, board games, and a knitting club in its common areas. Moreover, our clients have observed various decorations throughout the complex. However, our clients were denied the opportunity to host a Bible study and have religious decorations. The reasoning of the apartment complex was that in order to comply with federal fair housing laws, it could not allow religious events or decorations.

That’s absurd. First of all, Bible studies are not some kind of unlawful meeting.

Yet, the senior apartment complex even informed our clients that “all community events must be approved by management, remain inclusive, and must be available to the entire community.” As evidenced by this policy, management  intentionally prohibited religious events while allowing nonreligious events.

As we explained in our demand letter, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) protects residents in private and public housing markets, making it unlawful “to discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of . . . religion . . . .” 42 USC § 3604(b). In other words, Bible studies are not illegal, but banning them is.

A U.S. Department of Justice directive also explains, “No one may be discriminated against in the sale, rental or enjoyment of housing because of their religious beliefs. This includes equal access to all the benefits of housing: someone could not, for example, be excluded from reserving a common room for a prayer meeting when the room may be reserved for various comparable secular uses.” Also, federally funded housing complexes cannot circumvent the Fair Housing Act. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development makes it abundantly clear that recipients of its funding fall squarely within the FHA.

Thus, allowing nonreligious events and decorations while strictly forbidding religious events and decorations are clear violations of the Fair Housing Act. This misunderstanding and fatal interpretation of federal law led to management violating the very federal laws it claimed to be enforcing.

The ACLJ was prepared to take further legal action, but fortunately, management quickly took steps to correct this unlawful conduct after receiving our letter. We were assured that not only our clients but all residents would now be permitted to have religious decorations on their doors, conduct Bible studies in common areas, advertise resident-led religious events on the resident calendar in the lobby, and have religious patio decorations if secular decorations are permitted.

The ACLJ is dedicated to upholding the religious freedom of all Americans, especially residents of senior living communities. As we continue to see a rise in similar situations, please be aware that you could be the next one affected. If you fall victim to similar discrimination, please contact us at ACLJ.org/HELP.

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