Ken Hauge, a part-time pastor, and his wife, Liv, applied to use the community space in Evergreens at Smith Run, which is a senior living community in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Members of their local church meet for services in a nearby shopping centre.
The group was only permitted to use the space as long as it didn't refer to the meeting as a "Bible study." Instead, it was instructed to call it a "book review" club.
After an issue with scheduling, which led to another resident volunteering to host the Bible study in her apartment, the residential complex finally agreed for its space to be used by the group and described as a Bible study.
However, following complaints by other residents, the apartment complex implemented a zero-tolerance policy over any Bible studies, and sent letters to residents stating the faith-based meetings weren't permitted in the community space.
In an alleged second letter, sent directly to the Hauges, the couple in their 80s were told that they were prohibited from holding a Bible study even in the privacy of their own apartment as it would constitute as a "business" in a space only meant for residential use.
Since it's #SeniorCitizensDay let us introduce you to our newest victim of anti-religious hostility: Ken Hauge. Evicting senior citizens from their home for leading a Bible study is not only outrageous, it's illegal. https://t.co/yeGGseTQIz pic.twitter.com/8gAxrjL8GC— First Liberty (@1stLiberty) August 22, 2018
First Liberty, a faith-based law firm which specialises in cases related to religious freedom, sent a letter to the lawyers representing the residential complex to challenge the legality of their rule.
"Evicting elderly residents from their home for holding a Bible study is not only outrageous, it's illegal," Lea Patterson, associate counsel for First Liberty, said in a press release.
"It's frightening that a management company would use the threat of eviction to stop residents from meeting together to discuss any issue, let alone their faith."
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