Would it surprise you to learn that some Christian realtors are coming under fire for using Bible verses on their websites and email signatures, and Christian symbolism in their materials?
It did me!
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) notes that the Virginia Real Estate Board has repeatedly filed complaints against Christian realtors, accusing them of discrimination for the very actions listed above. The Board did not charge them. There was no evidence that they ever refused their services to anyone. However, the Board claimed that using Bible verses may make others feel excluded and discriminated against.
The ACLJ asserts that this is a “classic tactic of the anti-Christian Left: claim that by exercising their faith Christians are acting in a discriminatory manner and then in-turn discriminate against Christians in the name of tolerance.” https://aclj.org/religious-liberty/not-for-sale-christian-realtors-face-government-discrimination
The Virginia Real Estate Board (DPOR) issues professional credentials (licenses, certifications, etc.) to realtors. Its website states the “why” of what it does:
“DPOR strives to promote a positive business climate, ensure a competent workforce and provide exceptional customer service. … We protect the public by verifying minimum competency, investigating complaints, and upholding professional compliance with state law and regulations.” http://www.dpor.virginia.gov/About/#a2
Would denying a Christian realtor’s right to express his or her faith through their business constitute “protecting the public?”
According to the ACLJ, the Board accuses Christian realtors of discrimination solely because they express a Christian viewpoint. They must then prove their innocence before they can again express their faith. In each case, the Board continues to regulate their speech, permitting some Bible verses and symbols in some advertisements and not others.
ACLJ asserts the Board is violating the First Amendment rights of Christians, prohibiting their free exercise of religion, suppressing their speech, and establishing a government monitored and approved brand of religious speech.
The ACLJ recently secured a positive resolution in two cases, with the Board allowing the realtors to once again use Bible verses and/or Christian symbolism on their websites and/or other materials. In another ongoing case, the Board complained of a realtor’s use of John 3:16 on her website and in her emails.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, and familial status. https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/FHLaws. It does NOT prohibit the personal expression of faith on the part of realtors.
ACLJ cites a 2011 case in which the Supreme Court clarified that speech by businesses and business owners was protected by the First Amendment. Laws and regulations on such commercial speech cannot discriminate on the basis of the speaker’s viewpoint or beliefs. But ACLJ asserts that is precisely what the Virginia Real Estate Board is doing. https://aclj.org/religious-liberty/not-for-sale-christian-realtors-face-government-discrimination
What do you think?
Is the expression of faith by these realtors, as described above, offensive?
What is our proper response as Christians when our rights to the free exercise and expression of our faith are hindered by government regulators?
Please post your comments below.
Diana Furr, a.k.a. Abba’s Girl
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