As Christians, we are called to express our faith through our work.
For one Christian realtor in Virginia, that meant sharing a few simple phrases to show God’s love to her clients.
But it wasn’t long before she came under fire for expressing her beliefs.
Hadassah Carter, a realtor in the state of Virginia, was undeniably good at her job.
She served her clients with respect and love, matching their needs to homes that would help them build the lives they want.
But all of her excellent work meant nothing to the Virginia Real Estate Board when they discovered she was expressing her Christian faith to her clients.
Carter made sure her faith was front and center on her business website.
Under her personal statement, she wrote, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16. I am available to you when you need me.”
She also wrote a brief statement about her business practices, giving credit to God for her professional success and noting that she operated her business based on the Golden Rule.
Carter also personalized her email signatures with phrases like “For Faith and Freedom,” “With God all things are possible,” and the somehow ever-controversial, “Jesus Loves You.”
The Virginia Real Estate Board filed a complaint against Carter for including that particular phrase in her email communications.
You see, the board outrageously alleged that saying “Jesus Loves You” actually violated Virginia’s Fair Housing Act.
The board claimed Carter was discriminating against clients of different faiths by using “words or statements associated with Christianity, indicating a preference or limitation based on religion, in violation of the Fair Housing Law.”
“The complaint absurdly stated that because [this realtor] used religious speech, [she] could make someone feel discriminated against,” said Jordan Sekulow, an attorney for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
The ACLJ, a Christian conservative legal organization, took on Carter’s case and defended the realtor, recognizing that the precedent set by her case could affect Christians in many other professions.
“There have been no actual complaints against Hadassah Carter for discrimination,” continued Sekulow. “She has a diverse clientele of Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, Kenyans, and Vietnamese. Not a single allegation of religious discrimination was made against her.”
Since Carter’s clients never expressed complaints about her treatment of them based on religion or race, it became obvious that the Virginia Real Estate Board was simply lashing out at Carter for her Christian faith.
“No one should have to justify their free speech or their religion to a regulatory body,” said Sekulow in his defense of Carter. “To threaten someone’s job because they express their faith makes free speech unfree, and so we must fight these assaults on religious liberty aggressively.”
“The Supreme Court has made it clear that this is blatantly unconstitutional… that laws about commercial speech cannot discriminate on the basis of viewpoint,” continued Sekulow. “This is exactly what the Real Estate Regulatory Boards are doing when they prohibit realtors from talking about God.”
When faced with these sound arguments, the Real Estate Board reluctantly dropped its complaint. However, the board soon forced the agency employing Carter to monitor her communication and report back on her expressions of faith.
Carter eventually chose to resign her position rather than compromise her faith.
The ACLJ is still pursuing the case, arguing that the Virginia Real Estate Board violated Carter’s First Amendment rights to free expression.
“This is a very important case,” noted one of the ACLJ’s senior counselors. “We’re seeing more of this targeted discrimination against Christians in the name of stopping discrimination, and that’s what’s so absurd.”
“They’re actually doing to her what they falsely claim she has done,” the attorney added.
Whatever the outcome, it’s obvious that it will impact Christians in many professions.
“In our lawsuit on Hadassah’s behalf, we’re seeking to get a declaration that Hadassah was justly exercising her First Amendment rights and the board’s actions were unconstitutional,” said the ACLJ.
“We’re also seeking a permanent injunction against the Virginia Board of Realtors to prevent them from doing to anyone else what they did to Hadassah.”
Pray for the outcome of this case and for all Christians who have come under fire for sharing their faith through their professions.