Liberty Counsel Fights Religious Intolerance from Florida Home Owners' Association

Sep 18, 2014

When Enock and Ines Berluche, homeowners at the Shingle Creek Reserve at the Oaks in Central Florida, were told to remove the religious statues in their yard or face “legal action,” the couple reached out to Liberty Counsel.

In a neighborhood where lawn ornaments are the rule not the exception, the homeowners’ association permits statues of life-size human skulls, 4’ Greek topless women, and yard gnomes, but the 2’ tall statues of the Virgin Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus are “in violation of the covenants and restrictions for the Community,” according to a letter from the homeowner’s association attorney.

Why all of these ornaments are approved but Mr. and Mrs. Berluche’s statues were denied is clearly a matter of viewpoint discrimination. Whether it is a homeowners’ association, public school, or city council, governing agencies cannot violate a citizen’s First Amendment rights. “The Association's practice of approving (or turning a blind eye to unapproved) non-religious yard decor, while scrutinizing and rejecting applications for approval of yard decor that may be religious and asking intrusive questions regarding religious belief is religious discrimination,” Liberty Counsel said in a letter to the homeowners’ association attorney.

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