‘No one should have to justify their free speech or their religion to a regulatory body…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) A Christian real-estate agent is suing the Virginia Real Estate Board for discrimination after being told she couldn’t include religious statements on her website or in her emails.
Hadassah Carter was slapped with complaint in 2017 over her email signature, which read, “For Faith and Freedom, Jesus Loves You, and with God All things are possible…”
The Real Estate Board told Carter that the message violated fair housing laws, and asked her to remove the signature as well as a statement on her website, which described real estate as Carter’s “ministry,” said “God comes first and equal to him, my Clients come first,” and closed with, “In God We Trust.”
Because the statements were “associated with Christianity,” they indicated a “preference or limitation on religion, involution of the Virginia Fair Housing Law,” the Real Estate Board said, according to the Richmond Times–Dispatch.
Carter was forced to resign to avoid facing disciplinary action, but is fighting back and said that the messages were simply “a means of expressing her faith.”
“No one should have to justify their free speech or their religion to a regulatory body,” American Center for Law and Justice attorney Jordan Sekulow said in a statement. “To threaten someone’s job because they express their faith makes free speech unfree.”
Although Carter’s real-estate license is still active, she “fears making religious statements in connection with her realty practice” because the board could punish her.
“There have been no actual complaints against Hadassah Carter for discrimination,” the ACLJ, which represents Carter, said.
“She has a diverse clientele of Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, Kenyans and Vietnamese,” it said. “Not a single allegation of religious discrimination was made against her.
“The Supreme Court has made it clear that this is blatantly unconstitutional … that laws about commercial speech cannot discriminate on the basis of viewpoint,” the ACLJ continued.
“This is exactly what the Real Estate Regulatory Boards are doing when they prohibit realtors from talking about God.”