Pastor, Church & Law

Religious Discrimination in the Sale or Rental of Church Property

§ 7.16

Key point 7-16. Federal law prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of residential property on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, or sex. However, religious organizations are permitted to discriminate in the sale or rental of residential property in favor of persons of the same religion.

The Fair Housing Act (Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968) prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of residential property on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, or sex. However, the Act specifically exempts religious organizations from the ban on religious discrimination. The Act provides:

Nothing in this subchapter shall prohibit a religious organization, association, or society, or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association, or society, from limiting the sale, rental or occupancy of dwellings which it owns or operates for other than a commercial purpose to persons of the same religion, or from giving preference to such persons, unless membership in such religion is restricted on account of race, color, or national origin.226 42 U.S.C. § 3607(a).

One court explained the rationale for this exemption as follows:

When Congress considered the FHA, it recognized that the Act might impose an undue burden on various religious organizations, which, without any discriminatory animus, merely sought to provide housing for its members. Thus, Congress made it clear that these organizations could, under certain circumstances, give preference to their members, without any fear of liability under the Act.227 U.S. v. Lorantffy Care Center, 999 F.Supp. 1037 (N.D. Ohio 1998).

However, religious organizations may violate the Act if they discriminate in the sale or rental of residential property on the basis of race, color, national origin, or sex.228 Id.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations." Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

ajax-loader-largecaret-downcloseHamburger Menuicon_amazonApple PodcastsBio Iconicon_cards_grid_caretChild Abuse Reporting Laws by State IconChurchSalary Iconicon_facebookGoogle Podcastsicon_instagramLegal Library IconLegal Library Iconicon_linkedinLock IconMegaphone IconOnline Learning IconPodcast IconRecent Legal Developments IconRecommended Reading IconRSS IconSubmiticon_select-arrowSpotify IconAlaska State MapAlabama State MapArkansas State MapArizona State MapCalifornia State MapColorado State MapConnecticut State MapWashington DC State MapDelaware State MapFederal MapFlorida State MapGeorgia State MapHawaii State MapIowa State MapIdaho State MapIllinois State MapIndiana State MapKansas State MapKentucky State MapLouisiana State MapMassachusetts State MapMaryland State MapMaine State MapMichigan State MapMinnesota State MapMissouri State MapMississippi State MapMontana State MapMulti State MapNorth Carolina State MapNorth Dakota State MapNebraska State MapNew Hampshire State MapNew Jersey State MapNew Mexico IconNevada State MapNew York State MapOhio State MapOklahoma State MapOregon State MapPennsylvania State MapRhode Island State MapSouth Carolina State MapSouth Dakota State MapTennessee State MapTexas State MapUtah State MapVirginia State MapVermont State MapWashington State MapWisconsin State MapWest Virginia State MapWyoming State IconShopping Cart IconTax Calendar Iconicon_twitteryoutubepauseplay