Mich. woman accused of civil rights violation for seeking Christian roommate at church

ADF sends letter to Mich. Dept. of Civil Rights asking that complaint be dismissed immediately
Thursday, October 21, 2010

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — When a 31-year-old single woman in Grand Rapids placed an ad for a Christian roommate on her church bulletin board, she had no idea it would result in a civil rights complaint accusing her of illegal housing discrimination.

The Alliance Defense Fund, which represents the woman, sent a letter last week to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights asking that the groundless complaint be immediately dismissed, but the division has not yet offered any response.

“Christians shouldn’t live in fear of being punished by the government for being Christians. It is completely absurd to try to penalize a single Christian woman for privately seeking a Christian roommate at church--an obviously legal and constitutionally protected activity,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster. “Not content to just lock Christians and their beliefs into the four walls of their church or home, some groups also want to invade those walls and force their own ideas upon them by force of law.”

The civil rights complaint filed against the woman by the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan, a private group, accuses her of posting, on her church’s bulletin board, “an advertisement which contained the following sentence: ‘I am looking for a Christian roommate….’ The claimant believes the statement expresses an illegal preference for a Christian roommate, thus excluding people of other faiths.”

The ADF letter explains that the woman “is not a landlord. She does not own a management company. She does not run an apartment complex. She is a single person seeking to have a roommate live with her in her house. She is not prohibited by either federal law or state law from seeking a Christian roommate…. To the extent either law is applied against her to interfere with her right to live with a Christian roommate, such action would be in blatant violation of her First Amendment rights to freedom of association.”
  • Pronunciation guide: Oster (OH’-stir)
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.