A Virginia couple who were threatened with eviction from their retirement home if they continued to hold Bible study meetings have won the right to hold classes again.
Kenneth and Liv Hauge recently reached a settlement with the Evergreens at Smith Run in Fredericksburg, allowing them to continue holding Bible classes and movie screenings at the community room.
First Liberty Institute, a conservative law firm that represented the Hauges, announced the settlement on their Twitter account on Wednesday.
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“BREAKING: 2020 just began and we’re celebrating a VICTORY that vindicates the right to worship in your own home,” they tweeted.
“The FLI Legal team reached a settlement for Ken and Liv Hauge that allowed their group to gather for their first Bible study since being banned from meeting in 2018.”
Kenneth Hauge told Fox 5 DC in an interview last week that he believed it was “just a great relief to have this behind us and be able to move forward.”
In July 2018, the Community Realty Company, the parent company for Evergreens, sent a notice to the Hauges saying they must stop holding their Bible study at the senior living center’s community room or face eviction.
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According to the notice, the weekly Bible study “caused, and continues to cause, serious and substantial disturbances with other residents in the community.”
“Landlord has received a series of complaints over the past several months regarding your conduct at the community,” read the notice in part.
“Landlord has also learned that you show religious films on Sunday evenings, followed by a group discussion on the religious film. This activity has resulted in complaints to Landlord similar to those related to the Bible study class.”
The landlord said in the notice that the residential business was not threatening the couple with eviction because of their Christian beliefs nor was it “requesting that you cease practicing your religion.”
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Last May, the couple filed a lawsuit against Evergreens and CRC, arguing that management had discriminated against them and others on the basis of religion.
In addition to the ban on the Bible study, the suit also alleged that the Evergreens was prohibiting prayer before meals and refusing to allow them to call it a “Bible study,” but rather a “book review.”
Lea Patterson, associate counsel for First Liberty, said in a statement to The Christian Post last year that the “hostility to religious residents violates federal law and taints Virginia’s long history of religious freedom.”
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“We’re asking the court to hold the management company accountable for violating the Hauges’ right to exercise their faith in their home and to ensure no other residents have to suffer through what the Hauges have endured,” Patterson said at the time.
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