Board Overseeing Florida Condo Building Bans Bible Study, Christian Music in Commons Areas

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — The board overseeing a condominium building in Florida has adopted a resolution that prohibits religious gatherings from being held in the commons areas. A sign has now also been placed on a piano prohibiting residents from playing Christian music.

According to reports, the board of Cambridge House, managed by Gateway Group, recently passed a rule without notice that “Prayers and other religious services, observations, or meetings of any nature shall not occur … in or upon any of the common elements.”

The board also asked that all religious-themed items be removed from the premises, which resulted in several residents of Cambridge House removing the crosses from their doors. Two statues were also removed from the building, and a sign was placed on the lobby piano that read in all capital letters, “ANY AND ALL CHRISTIAN MUSIC IS BANNED!”

One resident, a Seventh Day Adventist lay minister, was issued a letter that informed her that she could no longer hold Bible studies in the social room, one of the commons areas.

“At the board of directors meeting on February 16, 2018, the attached resolution was adopted. The result of this resolution prohibits Bible study meetings in the social room effective [immediately],” the letter read.

Now, the religious liberties organization First Liberty has filed a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and is asking for Secretary Ben Carson to rectify the matter.

“The board’s failure to include the Cambridge House resolution in the posted meeting agenda or otherwise notify the condominium owners of the proposed resolution constitutes a violation of [Florida law],” the complaint states.

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“More importantly, however, this lack of notice resulted in many interested condominium owners … not attending the meeting—at all of in its entirety—and having no opportunity to speak out against or oppose the proposed resolution.”

It also asserts that the board’s actions violate federal housing laws because it singles out religion for exclusion.

“The Cambridge House resolution, both in text and in application, is discriminatory and violates the Fair Housing Act because it prohibits … Christian residents from accessing common condominium areas for any religious activity, while allowing other residents to use those same facilities for similar secular purposes,” the letter outlines.

“The resolution poses no obstacle to a group meeting in the social room to study a secular book, watch a secular movie, listen to secular music, or carry on an organized secular discussion, but it prohibits … condominium residents from meeting in the social room to study a religious book, watch a religious program, listen to religious music, or even participate in a conversation about their religious faith,” it explains.

First Liberty has requested an investigation into the matter. Game and movie nights are reportedly still being allowed in the commons areas, but not religious activity.

Read the complaint, as well as the adopted resolution, here in full. 

Gateway Group, which owns Cambridge House, has declined to comment on the matter.

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