You Have the Right To Go To Church and Have Your Bible in an Apartment Complex Common Area – ACLJ Wins Two More Victories for Religious Liberty
The ACLJ had two more religious liberty victories this month as we continue to fight to protect your right to worship and congregate.
We recently listed the steps for requesting religious accommodations from your employers in order to observe the Sabbath. Our latest success story involves a power company in West Virginia that decided to revoke a man’s religious accommodation after six years of employment.
This employee had requested in writing a religious accommodation to prevent his company from scheduling him to work from sundown on Fridays to sundown Saturdays for the Jewish observation of the Sabbath when he first started working for the power company. Without question, the accommodation request was accepted, and he was happily employed with the company for six years. This year, however, a new supervisor changed his schedule to include weekends going forward. Politely, the employee reminded the supervisor of his religious accommodation, and the supervisor responded that “it would cause an undue hardship on [the power company] for them to have someone else scheduled for weekends,” without a second thought to the accommodation agreement.
Thankfully, the employee contacted the ACLJ. We requested that the company provide a statement denying the employee’s religious accommodation in writing with their reasoning for the undue burden. Of course, the company was unable to provide a valid reason that would stand up in a court of law. The employee was given back his original schedule and can continue to observe his Sabbath from now on.
Your rights to observe your religious beliefs and congregate with other believers doesn’t stop at your place of employment! As we’ve explained in the past, your religious liberty is protected under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The FHA makes it unlawful “[t]o 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.”
Our most recent situation involved an apartment complex prohibiting residents from holding a Bible study in the common area, where others met for coffee, card games, and group meetings. In fact, the apartment manager told the residents that they couldn’t even bring a Bible into the common room in order to not “offend” anyone else. However, your right to your religious liberties does not waver regardless of whether others are offended by your message.
The ACLJ informed the apartment that its policy violated federal law, specifically the Fair Housing Act, and that permitting certain groups to meet in the community room while prohibiting a residential Bible study is overt discrimination. We are happy to report that the apartment complex promptly changed their tune and now allows Bible studies to meet in the common room.
The ACLJ is here to protect you from religious discrimination, and these are great examples of how reaching out to us can help without the need for litigation. You are protected by the law, and we will ensure your religious liberties remain secure. If you are experiencing similar discrimination for your faith, you can reach out to us at ACLJ.org/HELP.
Support the work of the ACLJ as we continue to defend Christians facing discrimination and protect religious liberty.