In Holiday City, a retirement community in Toms River, New Jersey, a group of mature ladies held a weekly Bible study where they could come together, sing songs, watch videos, and have fellowship. They had met for years in the community clubhouse, where other community members held events like social clubs, poker nights, quilting clubs, and dancing. When a new president was elected, however, she told the members of the Bible Study that they could no longer use the clubhouse to meet. When the ladies attempted to meet for the Bible study anyway a week later, the HOA called the police and locked the women out of the clubhouse.
The members of the Bible study called Christian Legal Society for help. CLS provided guidance to the members of the Bible study on how to proceed, during which time the ladies continued to meet on porches at members’ homes. Meanwhile, the HOA tried to pass new by-laws prohibiting any religious use of the community clubhouse. When the measure failed, the HOA president indicated that she would still block the Bible study from meeting in the clubhouse.
Christian Legal Society wrote a letter on behalf of the Bible study members informing the HOA that the Bible study is guaranteed equal treatment under the Fair Housing Act. Shortly thereafter, the HOA Board voted to restore clubhouse access to the Bible Study. CLS showed up at the first meeting back in the clubhouse to celebrate with the Bible study members.
Hear more about the CLS’s help with the Toms River Bible study in the members’ own words in the video below.
Principle: Religious people and groups have rights under the law to the same benefits of housing that others have. If you feel like you are being discriminated against in your housing on the basis of your religion, contact CLS to discuss your rights.