Monday, October 22, 2012

The Path of Lease Resistance

Tony Perkins
Family Research Council Action

If I told you the story of a faithful citizen who punished for praying in an upstairs room, you'd probably think I was reading from the Book of Daniel. Try Fox News. That's where Todd Starnes shares a shocking report of religious hostility--not in an oppressive foreign country, but in quiet Spring Lake Park, Minnesota. Ruth Sweats, an elderly widow, was having an innocent conversation about the Bible with another resident when a social worker interrupted Ruth and ordered her to stop. It's forbidden, the woman told her, to pray, read the Bible, or even talk about faith in the common areas of the apartment complex. Why? Well, according to the social worker's twisted logic, the Osbourne Apartments receive federal funding, so it would be a violation of the so-called "separation of church and state" to let tenants to practice their faith.

Have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous? Fortunately for Ruth, our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom have. Attorneys for ADF set to work almost immediately, debunking the myth that residents have to forfeit their religious rights to live in a HUD development. In a letter it fired off to Osbourne Apartments, ADF explains that "[The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] does not prohibit discussion about religion in the facilities to which it provides funding... simply because the government provides a benefit with public funds does not mean that all 'mention of religion or prayers' must be whitewashed from the use of the benefit."

Unfortunately, this is just another illustration of the attack on faith in public spaces that has accelerated over the past four years. Since 2009, the policies of the Obama administration have created an environment where religious freedom is the exception--not the norm. To learn about more than 600 cases of faith-based discrimination, check out FRC and Liberty Institute's report on Religious Hostility in America.