A law firm that fights religious discrimination is accusing a senior living community in Virginia of unlawfully punishing a retired pastor.
Ken Hauge, a retired Lutheran pastor, was conducting a Bible study in the common area at Evergreens at Smith Run in Fredericksburg when the owner, Community Realty Company, instituted a policy that bans religious activities in the community room.
Abiding by the corporate policy, Hauge then moved the Bible study into his apartment, where First Liberty Institute attorney Lea Patterson says Hauge was told that is not allowed either.
"The letter that they sent to [Hauge]," says Patterson, "basically told him that he could not lead a Bible study either in the common area or in his own apartment."
This week, attorneys at First Liberty submitted a complaint to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on behalf of Hauge and his wife. The complaint alleges that the Evergreens and Community Realty violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating on the basis of Hauge's religion.
According to the eviction letter given to Hauge, the Bible study amounts to business activity, which the company claims is a violation of the lease agreement.
"It is both shameful and illegal to threaten elderly residents with eviction simply for holding a Bible study," Patterson tells OneNewsNow. "Treating residents unequally simply out of hostility to religion violates federal law and taints Virginia's long history of religious freedom."
First Liberty first sent Evergreens and Community Realty a letter in August advising them they were discriminating against Hauge.