A senior living community in Virginia is being sued after telling an elderly couple they have to make a choice: either move out – or stop hosting a Bible study in their apartment.
First Liberty Institute and attorneys with Hunton Andrews Kurth, LLP filed a federal lawsuit against the Evergreens at Smith Run and its parent company, Community Realty Company (CRC), alleging religious discrimination in housing by the management of the senior living community in Fredericksburg. The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia on behalf of Ken Hauge (a retired Lutheran pastor) and his wife, Liv, residents in the senior apartment facility.
First Liberty attorney Lea Patterson explains that the Hauges were threatened with eviction by CCR last year for hosting a small Bible study. "We sent a letter to the apartment community back in August – and now, seeing no resolution, we have filed a lawsuit to vindicate those rights under the Federal Fair Housing Act," Patterson tells OneNewsNow.
"The Fair Housing Act is basically designed to make sure that landlords can't force their tenants to move by discriminating against them on the basis of religion or any other protected class," the attorney explains.
A ruling could have an impact beyond Virginia, according to the attorney. "Certainly, any court case can be looked at as persuasive even if it doesn't bind the particular court saying in a totally different state," she says.
First Liberty has a similar case in Florida, where Patterson says "a senior citizen was told that she could not hold her women's Bible study in her condo complex common area. That case was filed with HUD as an administrative complaint, and that process is ongoing."
As for the Hauges, they continue to live in the apartment community.
More details about the Ken Hauge case