QUESTION: We have a home owner in our condo complex who holds Bible studies in his home. Is this a violation?
ANSWER: Would the same question be asked if a group of atheists got together to study the Humanist Manifesto? By itself, studying religious material does not violate anything and should not be regulated. As with animal sacrifices, boards need to look at non-religious factors.
Nuisance. The issue to examine is one of nuisance. Sacrificing animals in a condo can be quite disruptive to the quiet enjoyment of other members who have to listen to screaming animals meeting an untimely death. Moreover, ritualistic sacrifice may create unsanitary conditions (such as blood leaking from trash bags into the common areas).
A Bible study, on the other hand, 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 then nuisance becomes an issue. In the scenario I described, the nuisance needs to be more than mere inconvenience, it needs to be sufficiently disruptive to convince a judge that injunctive relief is warranted (following appropriate violation hearings, fines, IDR and ADR).
Reading Material. The bottom line is the motivation for taking action against the Bible study. Is it 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.)
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