FL condo association bans Christian music, bible study in meeting room

Fair Housing complaint filed with HUD

 

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

 

Industry trade groups and developers’ sales agents sell condominium associations as “communities” that share more than just housing. They sell a lifestyle with that “cultivates a true sense of community.”

But every week new reports of internal conflict, bullying and harassment, and blatant discrimination in association-governed communities appear in the news.

The latest incident is an outrageous display of anti-Christian management practices at Cambridge House Condominium Association in Port Charlotte, Florida.

The story first appeared on a local news station.

Port Charlotte condo bans common-space religious gatherings

Reporter: Chris Grisby, WINK News
Kim Powell
Writer: Rachel Ravina
Published: March 7, 2018 5:22 PM EST
Updated: March 7, 2018 11:06 PM EST

A condominium complex banned religious and musical gatherings in common spaces, but one resident isn’t backing down.

Donna Dunbar holds a bible study group in a common area in the Cambridge House Condominiums, but received a rule from her home owner’s association.

“We just met every Monday for two hours and that was it,” Dunbar said.

Dunbar said at first, the home owner’s association asked her to get insurance, but then at a board meeting last month they told her she could no longer meet there for Bible study.

“They said that there would be no more prayers here, there would be no more anything here,” Dunbar said. “There was a sign in the organ downstairs that said, ‘No Christian Music Allowed.’”

Jeremy Dys, of First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit legal organization advocating for religious rights, said there’s been a violation.

“Prayers and other religious services, observations, or meetings of any nature shall not occur … in or upon any of the common elements,” the home owner’s association said in a statement.

Read more (Video):

http://www.winknews.com/2018/03/07/port-charlotte-condo-bans-common-space-religious-gatherings/

 

It was soon reported that a Fair Housing complaint has been filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), citing disparate treatment and religious discrimination. Homeowner Donna Dunbar’s case has been filed by attorneys Jeremy Dys of First Liberty Institute, and Adam Foslid of Greenberg Traurig law firm of Miami.

 

Federal complaint filed after condo bans religious activity in common spaces

Lisa Greenberg, Fox 4 News

10:09 PM, Mar 7, 2018
10:30 PM, Mar 7, 2018

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – A Port Charlotte woman says her condo HOA is banning her bible study group and any religious activity from the common spaces in the building. A federal complaint has been filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Donna Dunbar lives at Cambridge House Condominiums and has held bible study groups in its common room every Monday morning for nearly a year.

“I rely on God for everything,” Dunbar said.

She said her 919 sq. foot condo is too small for the nine person group.

“We study the Bible and sing some karaoke songs,” she said.

Dunbar said on February 6th, the HOA board decided it would no longer be approved. They adopted a resolution saying “prayers and other religious services, observations, or meetings of any nature shall not occur … in or upon any of the common elements.”

‘Like I was being rejected,” Dunbar said. “This is my home, this is my community.”

Read more (Video):

https://www.fox4now.com/news/local-news/federal-complaint-filed-after-condo-bans-religious-activity-in-common-spaces

 

According to Liberty Institute, Donna Dunbar and her husband, Clarence, are devout Christians in the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The couple founded a local mission and soup kitchen, the Lighthouse Outreach Center. The Dunbars were recipients of the 2010 President’s Volunteer Service Award.

Despite the Dunbars’ obvious contributions to a cultivating a true sense of community, Cambridge House Condo Association has rejected Donna’s bible study group.

 

The redacted HUD complaint filed against Cambridge House appears below.

 

Source: https://firstliberty.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Dunbar-HUD-Complaint-Redacted.pdf

As the reader can see from the official HUD complaint, on February 6, 2018, Cambridge House board President Roy Slater signed the official resolution banning all religious activity in the common areas, including the Social Room of Cambridge House.

Prior to enacting the new rule, the condo board required Dunbar to purchase insurance to use the common area for her weekly bible study meetings. Insurance has not been required for other social gatherings at Cambridge House.

Apparently, when the cost of insurance did not deter Dunbar, the board adopted a Resolution to ban all religious activities in the common areas.

Kristine Wishard, real estate broker and President of Gateway Group Management delivered notice of the new rule to the Dunbars on February 7th.

Also according to the complaint, the rule prohibiting religious activities in common areas was enacted without prior notice or discussion at an open meeting, in direct violation of Florida Statute 718.

The complaint states that the condo association has provided no valid reasons for banning Dunbar’s bible study group. The board and management have also prohibited residents from playing Christian music on the organ in the Social Room, and recently required residents to remove all religious objects from their condo doors and the common areas.

Cambridge House is one of nine condominium buildings governed by a master association, Charlotte Square Condominiums.

The 55+ active adult community offers two swimming pools, tennis and various meeting rooms for social activities. The Social Room at Cambridge House is regularly used for meetings of secular clubs, card games, and movie nights.

In 2010, a former condominium manager of Charlotte Square, Stacey Herrin Tuck, was sentenced to 12 years in prison and $1 million in restitution for grand theft and fraud, involving at least $500,000 from the association. (See Condo manager sentenced in Charlotte fraud, Herald-Tribune, Sept. 9, 2010.)

 

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