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VICTORY: ACLJ Defends the Rights of Christians To Pray in a Senior Living Complex


Nathan Moelker

March 1

4 min read

Religious Liberty



The ACLJ won another victory on behalf of a Bible study in a senior living complex, this time in Minnesota. Although discrimination in senior living facilities has become a recent trend, our victories have been consistent too. We have won similar victories recently on behalf of clients in Missouri and Texas. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the provision of housing, and we have emphasized that landlords cannot treat religious tenants differently in each of these cases.

In previous cases, tenants were barred completely from religious meetings. But in Minnesota, our clients were discriminated against in a different way. They were still technically allowed to meet but subjected to different rules and told they couldn’t share their events with the community the way any other event would be shared.

Our clients hold a Bible study in their apartment complex. The complex’s common areas are open to all residents and are reserved to host a variety of resident events, such as card games, board games, and bridge clubs. There is also a community calendar that lists a variety of events, including special events, bingo, birthday parties, different games, swim groups, chair yoga, blackjack, happy hour, etc. Initially, our clients held their Bible studies in peace and were able to advertise the study on the community calendar, community boards, and the community room door, notifying others that the room had been reserved for their Bible study.

But a few months ago, management stated that they could no longer have their group listed on the community calendar, as their group name could be “offensive” to others. They were also instructed to remove any notices of their meeting from community bulletin boards. A blackboard that announced the Bible study was also temporarily confiscated. Because they were barred from placing their meeting on the community calendar or otherwise communicating the event, they faced significant difficulties in holding their events, as other groups wished to use the room at the same time and lacked any notice of the study.

Our clients were thus put in a position where they could still technically meet, but unlike any other group, they could not properly reserve the room, let other residents know they were meeting, or put up any signs to let people know where the meeting was being held. When our clients asked management what to do about the situation, they were told that to be treated like other groups and put their Bible study on the calendar, they needed to change the name to a “book study” or “ancient study.”

When the ACLJ was told of this situation, we immediately took action on our clients’ behalf. The FHA’s protections are not left on the doorstep when renters enter their homes. We sent a legal letter to the complex, demanding that action be taken to correct this discriminatory policy. We pointed out that the FHA prohibits apartment complexes, condominiums, associations, and the like from discriminating against residents or homeowners for their religious expression. The FHA also prohibits apartment complexes from treating religious activities differently, such as prohibiting the use of common rooms for religious events or activities where non-religious events or activities are permitted or by subjecting religious gatherings to different rules than those applicable to secular gatherings.

As a result of our letter, the living facility corrected its policies. It instituted a new resident calendar that will include all events, including our clients’ Bible study. There is a new community bulletin board that our clients are now officially allowed to post their fliers on to let the community know when and where their study is being held. There is also now an official resident event book where they can advertise their events. In other words, as the law requires, our clients are no longer treated differently because of their faith.

We are thankful that this situation has now been resolved and this Bible study can continue, free of discrimination. The ACLJ fights to provide legal assistance for Americans nationwide who experience violations of their protected religious liberties. Read our article “Know Your Rights: Senior Living Centers and Other Housing Facilities Cannot Discriminate Based on Religion” for more information about religious liberty in senior living facilities.

If your rights are being violated in this area, please contact us at ACLJ.org/HELP.

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