Dr. Ben Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has announced that federal housing officials will investigate a complaint against the owner and manager of senior apartments in Oklahoma for violating the Fair Housing Act by removing Bibles and other religious literature from their common areas.
“The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing and in housing-related services based on religion and other protected characteristics,” a HUD statement reads.
“Religious liberty is at the core of our nation’s identity and will be upheld under the Fair Housing Act,” said Carson in the Oct. 9 statement. “Barring religious materials infringes upon this right, and the Trump Administration will not stand for discrimination against any group for practicing their religious traditions.”
According to Sapulpa Times, it all began when a resident at an assisted-living home complained about angels being used as décor in the common area. Wilhoit Properties, the proprietor of the home, then reportedly sent an email to their 116 assisted-living facilities telling the managers to remove Bibles and Christian literature from all shared areas.
HUD said Carson agreed to look into the matter after receiving a letter from a resident at Carriage Crossing, which is owned by Vintage Housing and managed by Wilhoit Properties. The resident was “upset that the management demanded the removal of religious reading material from the common areas and angel ornaments from the complex’s Christmas tree.”
If the investigation finds reasonable cause that there was a violation of the Fair Housing Act, HUD says a charge of discrimination can be filed.
“Throughout the process, HUD will seek conciliation and voluntary resolution,” the HUD statement says. “If a charge is filed, it may be resolved through settlement, an administrative determination or referral to the Department of Justice.”
Franklin Graham expressed his gratitude for HUD and Carson: “I’m thankful for the strong stand that the current administration has consistently taken for our religious liberties,” he posted on Facebook, “and I appreciate the great work that Dr. Carson does for our country—I thank God for his wisdom, his heart and his dedication to helping others.”
Above: Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson speaks in the Cabinet Room of the White House during a roundtable with President Donald Trump about America’s seniors on June 15.
Photo: AP Photo/Evan Vucci