Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Apartment Managers Ban Bible Study In Commons Area

Today's Spartanburg (South Carolina) Herald-Journal reports on another instance of a growing problem-- an apartment complex banning residents from using a building's common space for Bible study. (See prior posting.) At Spartanburg's Heritage Court Apartments, appropriately located on "Church Street", the management company in charge of the building told residents that the federal Fair Housing Act requires them to move their Bible study group from the common area into a private apartment. The letter to residents also said that hymns could no longer be played on the piano in the commons area, and no nativity scene could be displayed there at Christmas. William Dudley Gregorie, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's field office director for South Carolina, says that management is wrong in its interpretation of the law. As long as all groups have the same access to the commons area, there is no problem with its use for Bible study.

The management company involved here, One Management, justified its action as a way of preventing potential tenets from feeling that a particular religion is preferred at the apartment complex. One Management owns between 40 and 50 complexes across the Carolinas and Virginia, and manages 12 others.

UPDATE: Wednesday, after South Carolina lawmakers said that One Management has misinterpreted the law, the management company announced they would allow residents to continue their bible study while the company sought advice from the Special Counsel for Religious Discrimination with the United States Department of Justice. (Fox Carolina News.)