A retired pastor in Virginia is facing potential eviction from his senior living community for hosting a Bible study.
Attorney’s say residents at Evergreens at Smith Run in Fredericksburg, Virginia asked Ken Hauge to lead a Bible study in the complex’s community room last year in January 2017.
Hauge, a retired Lutheran Minister, agreed and applied to the apartment complex manager to reserve the community room for the Bible study, putting down the $100 deposit.
First Liberty Legal Group says the apartment manager refused to allow him to call the event a “Bible Study,” saying he could rent the room but would have to call it a “Book Study.”
More than a year later, in July 2018, the Evergreens living community adopted a new policy prohibiting residents from engaging in activity “for religious purposes” in the Community Room.
Lawyer’s say, that same day, Hauge and his wife, received an eviction notice informing that the realtor considers the Bible study a “business activity” which is prohibited by his lease.
The letter told Hauge that unless he stopped the Bible study, his lease will terminate on August 31st, 2018. Attorneys with First Liberty Institute pushed back saying the complex’s actions constitute religious discrimination in housing, which is a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.
“It’s frightening that a management company would use the threat of eviction to stop residents from meeting together to discuss any issue, let alone their faith,” said Lea Patterson, associate counsel for First Liberty. “The unequal treatment of citizens in the community simply out of hostility to religion violates federal law and taints Virginia’s long history of religious freedom.”
Hauge has temporarily stopped leading the bible study, while lawyers work to resolve the issue.