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Senior Living Complex BANS Bible Studies in Direct Violation of Federal Law


Abigail A. Southerland

July 27, 2023

3 min read

Religious Liberty



When a senior living center banned residents from conducting Bible studies, we swiftly stepped in. The ACLJ has taken action on behalf of a resident of a senior living complex in Missouri after the complex violated her rights under the Fair Housing Act (FHA).

After moving into the senior living complex, our client organized a Bible study for residents of the complex. The facility offered common spaces that were used for various purposes and could be reserved on a community calendar. Our client went through the proper channels to reserve one of the common areas and was initially approved to hold the Bible study at her desired time. The residents held this Bible study once a week for several months without issue.

However, in June of this year, our client was told she must shut down her Bible study and cease using the common area because some residents were purportedly offended by the Bible study. Management further informed our client that the Bible study was not allowed because it was a federally funded building, and Bible studies were prohibited under the FHA. This is literally the exact opposite of the law.

Our client then reached out to the ACLJ for guidance. We immediately responded by sending a demand letter to the living complex outlining federal law, including the FHA. Not only does the FHA allow a Bible study on federally funded property, but it also expressly prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion in regard to providing facility services (42 U.S.C. § 3604(b)). The DOJ has made it clear that “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.”

In a similar case, a court held a condo association accountable for violating the rights of Jewish homeowners in Bloch v. Frischholz. The homeowners displayed a mezuzah on their exterior doorpost. A facially neutral rule prohibited objects of any sort outside a condo owner’s door. However, the evidence indicated that the condo association had allowed other items to remain on and around the exterior doors of other condos. The court reasoned that discriminatory intent could be inferred from allowing other objects to remain while prohibiting the mezuzah.

The ACLJ continues to provide legal assistance for Americans nationwide who experience violations of their freedoms. Unfortunately, many of the most vulnerable among us, such as our senior citizens, experience violations of the very freedoms that our law is enacted to protect.

If the senior living complex does not quickly reverse course for our client, we will file a federal lawsuit to protect her religious liberty. We have won major cases, including at the Supreme Court, defending the Equal Access rights of Christians to hold Bible studies in schools and other government buildings over the years, and this case will be no different. Follow the ACLJ for updates regarding this situation and other legal battles we are fighting to protect the rights of Americans.

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