Adams Stirling PLC


Clubhouse Bible Study. There is nothing illegal or improper in allowing a Bible study in the clubhouse. It would be intolerant to exclude homeowners from using the facilities based on their religion. As long as space is available and they follow the rules, there should be no discrimination toward any religious group that wants to peacefully gather. In 2018, a 55+ homeowners association settled a lawsuit over this issue. The association had allowed members to reserve rooms at its 8,000 square-foot clubhouse for activities such as book clubs, card games, Bible studies, arts & crafts, etc. They had over 30 clubs and interest groups using their common area facilities. An atheist objected to Bible studies in the clubhouse and threatened to sue the association. In response, the board banned all religious or faith-based groups from using the common areas.

Affected members contacted the Pacific Justice Institute, a nonprofit legal organization that defends religious freedoms and civil liberties. They sued the association for violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the Fair Employment and Housing Act for denying access to the common areas on the basis of religion. In addition to injunctive relief, members sought punitive damages against the association and its directors. The association sought to have the complaint dismissed or at least dismiss punitive damages. The judge refused, and a trial was scheduled. The parties went into mediation and the association agreed to a number of concessions, including giving faith-based groups equal access to common area facilities.
Home/Condo Unit Bible Study. Members can hold Bible studies in their homes/condo units. It is no different than friends getting together to play cards or a book club discussing the latest best seller. If, however, the Bible study turns disruptive from a pounding piano and loud singing, illegally parked vehicles, blocked driveways and trash in the common areas, then nuisance becomes an issue. If the motivation for taking action against the Bible study is because religious material is being studied, no judge is going to allow an association to regulate what people read. (Fountain Valley Chateau Blanc v. Dept. of V.A.)

ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.

Adams Stirling PLC