An American woman who advertised at her church for a Christian roommate is facing a legal case and massive fines after her action was branded “illegal”.
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In a case which has been described as “completely absurd” by her legal backers, the 31-year-old single woman has been landed with a civil rights complaint accusing her of illegal housing discrimination.
She is being supported by a US religious liberty group, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), which says the woman’s actions are “obviously legal” and protected by the US Constitution.
The woman, whose name is being protected for her privacy, posted the notice at her church asking for a Christian roommate but an anonymous civil rights complaint was subsequently filed with the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan.
The Executive Director of the Fair Housing Center said depending on the outcome of the case, the 31-year-old woman could face several hundreds of dollars in fines and “fair housing training so it doesn’t happen again”.
Joel Oster, from ADF, said: “Clearly this woman has a right to pick and choose who she wants to live with”.
Mr Oster commented: “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.”
According to the Fair Housing Center, the advert expressed “an illegal preference for a Christian roommate, thus excluding people of other faiths”.
People are free to choose a roommate based on religion, but they cannot publish an advert with that intent, Nancy Haynes, the Executive Director of the Center said.
ADF said it had sent a letter to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, who are now dealing with the complaint, but had received no reply.
ADF’s letter explains that the woman “is not a landlord. She does not own a management company. She does not run an apartment complex”.
It continues: “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”.