Todd Starnes / Aug. 18, 2018

Pastor Faces Eviction for Hosting Home Bible Study

A semi-retired Lutheran minister in Fredericksburg, Virginia, faces the possibility of being evicted from a senior living community because he's been hosting a small Bible study in the privacy of his apartment, his attorney alleges.

A semi-retired Lutheran minister in Fredericksburg, Virginia, faces the possibility of being evicted from a senior living community because he’s been hosting a small Bible study in the privacy of his apartment, his attorney alleges.

First Liberty Institute, a law firm that specializes in religious liberty cases, is representing Pastor Ken Hauge. They accused the management of The Evergreens at Smith Run of a pattern of verbal abuse and harassment directed at Christians who live in the complex.

“The threat of eviction follows repeated religious discrimination by Evergreens management, including forcing Hauge to refer to his event as a ‘Book Review’ rather than a ‘Bible Study,’” First Liberty attorney Hiram Sasser wrote in a letter to the corporate owner of the community.

I reached out to Community Realty Company, the parent company of The Evergreens at Smith Run, and referred the comments to the apartment building manager. The manager did not return my phone call.

Sasser told the “Todd Starnes Radio Show” that management also withdrew support of a social event because a resident said grace over a meal. It also banned all religious activities from the community room.

He is calling on Evergreens to rescind the eviction threat, rescind the rule banning religious activities from the community room, and stop the harassment of people of faith.

Pastor Hauge’s troubles with management began in early 2017 when a group of about 20 residents asked him to lead a nondenominational Bible study in the community room. That gathering eventually moved to a private apartment.

Management initially approved of the gathering provided the participants call it a “Book Review” meeting instead of a “Bible Study.” In 2018 management relented after a resident complained to corporate headquarters.

However, it was also about that time that Pastor Hauge came under attack from some residents opposed to the gathering.

“Several residents attempted to interfere with the Bible study on several occasions,” Sasser said. “At least one of these residents repeatedly harassed and verbally abused Hauge and other Bible study attendees on the basis of their religious beliefs.”

On July 23 residents received a notice that the community room was off-limits to future religious activities. Bingo and poker were permissible; prayer was not.

On that same day Pastor Hauge and his wife were threatened with an eviction notice.

“The notice threatened to terminate the Hauge’s lease and evict them unless Hauge stopped leading the Bible study entirely, either in his private apartment or in the community room,” Sasser said.

The eviction threat also accused the pastor of inviting nonresidents to the Bible study and counseling people. However, First Liberty denies the accusations, calling them false.

It also took exception to management labeling the Bible study as a “home business” — which is impermissible according the eviction threat.

“Hauge may be a minister by profession, but he led the Bible study in his personal capacity and on his own time,” Sasser said. “He received no compensation for his leadership.”

First Liberty Institute accused the senior citizens community of “obstructing and stifling residents’ religious beliefs.”

“These actions violate federal law, including the Fair Housing Act,” Sasser said.

The FHA clearly prohibits discrimination against any person because of religion. It also forbids landlords from imposing different conditions or privileges because of a person’s religion.

And it appears that’s exactly what happened in Fredericksburg.

In essence, the apartment complex told the pastor that if he wishes to stay he must never pray or discuss the Bible with anyone — even in the privacy of his home.

That’s not just wrong — that’s unconstitutional.

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2021 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.