Senior residents regain right to hold Bible studies

Thursday, January 12, 2017
 | 
Charlie Butts (OneNewsNow.com)

older women in Bible studyIt turns out that a legal tussle involving a senior center was the result of a complaint from a resident who attended religious meetings there – then filed a suit to stop those meetings.

A group of senior citizens in Bakersfield, California, held Bible studies and worship services at the clubhouse of Solera Association at Kern Canyon, an adult community, for several years until one resident threatened a legal challenge. The community's homeowners association chose to put a stop to the Christian meetings at its facility shortly before Thanksgiving.

Brad Dacus heads Pacific Justice Institute, which stepped in to defend the worship services. He explains what was at stake with the situation.

"The association, instead of getting qualified legal counsel, went ahead and quickly caved in and banned the usage of this senior citizens' clubhouse for church services even though they allowed other groups to use the facility with no problem," the attorney tells OneNewsNow.

PJI filed suit because court rulings stipulate that if other groups are permitted, religious ones cannot be denied.

The lawsuit, filed on December 22 on behalf of Solera resident Gerald Brister, brought almost immediate reaction. On December 30, the Solera HOA reversed its decision and voted to let the religious meetings resume.

Dacus, Brad (PJI)"The association has reversed its opinion for now, but we're seeking full injunctive relief to protect [the right of] senior citizens and these communities, who otherwise often can't go to church on their own, to be able to worship and not be inhibited from doing so by a hostile homeowners association," Dacus adds.

"We cannot allow a heckler's veto to be successful at the cost of religious freedom for others."

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