A 31-year-old woman who placed an ad for a Christian roommate on her church bulletin board has been charged with housing discrimination.
The Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing the Christian woman, has called the complaint filed by the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan "absurd."
"Christians shouldn’t live in fear of being punished by the government for being Christians," said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster in a statement Thursday. "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.
"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 in July, accuses the woman of posting "an advertisement which contained the following sentence: 'I am looking for a Christian roommate.'"
The Fair Housing Center contends "the statement expresses an illegal preference for a Christian roommate, thus excluding people of other faiths."
ADF has asked the Michigan Department of Civil Rights to immediately dismiss the complaint.
In a letter sent last week, Oster argues that the woman is a single person, and not a landlord, who is simply seeking a roommate to live with her in her house.
"She is not prohibited by either federal law or state law from seeking a Christian roommate," he states in the letter as he cites the 1968 U.S. Fair Housing Civil Rights Act and the Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act.
"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," Oster contends.
The Michigan Department of Civil Rights has yet to offer a response.