A retired Lutheran minister is facing eviction from a senior living community for holding a Bible study.
First Liberty Institute filed a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development on behalf of Rev. Kenneth Hauge and his wife.
“It is both shameful and illegal to threaten elderly residents with eviction simply for holding a Bible study,” First Liberty Institute’s Lea Patterson told the Todd Starnes Radio Show. “Treating residents unequally simply out of hostility to religion violates federal law and taints Virginia’s long history of religious freedom.”
Last year, residents of the Evergreens at Smith Run in Fredericksburg, Virginia invited the retired minister to lead a Bible study.
Initially, the apartment manager refused to let the Christian residents call their gathering a Bible study. Instead, they were required to call it a “Book Review.”
In early 2018, the apartment manager agreed to let the residents hold their meeting in a community room. But in July, they reversed course and instituted a new policy banning residents from using the room for “religious purposes.”
That same day the retired pastor received a cease and desist letter — warning that unless he stopped leading the Bible study his lease would be terminated.
Rev. Hauge, who is in his mid-80’s, agreed to suspend the Bible study while First Liberty Institute pursued legal action.
First Liberty Institute says the Evergreens at Smith Run and Community Realty Company have violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating on the basis of religion.