Bringing God to the Homeowners

Question from Jerry:
I live in an HOA community of about 100 homes in North Carolina. We have a clubhouse and monthly dinner socials and there is always a spoken Christian prayer before each meal. After going to these for two years I met with the HOA Board to complain about the prayers because they were not inclusive and this is not a religious compound. Their lawyer told them that did not have the authority to tell anyone to pray or not to pray. They sent out the board minutes to the community and instead saying a resident complained about prayers, they mentioned me by name. Because of this is sent out a 17 point rebuttal explaining why I had done this. Interestingly enough I got a lot of hugs and hand shakes for doing this. I tried to bring it up at the annual meeting and was shut down because they had already ruled on the issue. I am at present circulating a petition and so far have 20 homeowner signatures. This must be a HOA issue nationwide. The boards always deal with property management companies. Our property management company suggested that I just leave the room. I replied that I was not going to sit in back of the bus. I did a little research on national property management trade organizations but could not find anything about my issue. Do you have any suggestions.

Answer by SmartLX:
Even if I were American I think I’d be the wrong person to ask about the laws that apply to American homeowner’s associations with respect to religion, or to anything else for that matter. So I’ll say up front, folks, comment to help this guy out and you’ll probably do better than me.

From what I can gather from forums and from simple articles like this one, as a private entity not representing the state in any way a HOA can pretty much do whatever its board wants, as long as it’s within the law generally. Praying in front of you on behalf of the HOA certainly favours a particular religion but the HOA is not required to be impartial as long as your rights are respected, and you are not technically a captive audience.

Those hugs and handshakes are important, though, if only because you know you’re not alone. I’d say the best way to change what the board does is to change what the board wants, and the most straightforward way to do that is to change who’s on the board. Here I’m adrift as I have no idea whether your board simply consists of every homeowner or it’s elected from within that group. If the latter is the case then you could encourage the huggers and handshakers to run next time around, and potentially form a focused minority on the board with the leverage to effect change.

I’ll just bring up one strategy I’ve read about that has gotten fast results in the fight against partisan prayers in other spheres, in case you can find a way to use it. It’s to demand equal time for other views, or just exercise freedom of speech and answer one expression with another. People have used Hindu prayers, prayers to Satan or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, readings from The God Delusion or On The Origin of Species and so on. Once it becomes clear to the Christian majority that minority beliefs and positions will appear on the same stage (sometimes literally) as their own with equal significance, they may decide it’s not worth having a timeslot for prayer at all.

2 thoughts on “Bringing God to the Homeowners”

  1. I think its usually best to ignore outfits like HOAs (note: I’m not in the US so I obviously don’t know what its like there) … I ignore mine most of the time.
    They are vehicles for people with too much free time – helps them feel important about stuff.

    I apologize for my cynicism … but I’ve had my fair share of wrangling with such associations. I keep my peace now and stay away from their monkey business. Things usually run smooth with or without them / despite them. But that’s just me.

  2. Although Christianity has not been the best vehicle in every age to show love to each other, and has often been used to show the worst of what man can offer, it still has proven to be the best way to demonstrate the real godlike emotion love. In the place you are, the concensus has been the use of prayer. If it is helping to keep and harmony where you are at why do you feel the need to upset it. What would you encourget be used to replace it? I hae seen a simple act of prayer restore beings to their senses in roudy times. It has brought peace and comfort in times of stress
    and calamities. When used properly there is no stronger means to unify separate and satient oraganisms prone to sodom the patht to destruction. As an Atheisti, are you for or against law and order? Would you prefer chaos in your meetings? And if everyone were to cite a nursery rhyme, would you find it objectionable or just odd? Why does prayer not fit the same way in your mind? What is it about prayer that causes you to lose sleep over? Do you find the membrs of the board to be unkind individuals, or just get in their ways? Would you prefer to have mass killers on the board, or pedophiles? sure not all Christians are true Christians, but the ones that are, and if they are you will find that they, we, believe that our God belongs, deserves, longs to be a part of all of our lives, If you have, or were to study about Christianity, you will find that most Christians believe that “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain,” And in Galatians 2:20 it says that Christians believe that ” I am crucified with Christ, Never the less I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me: And the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loves me and gave himself for me.” So for many Christians, being that of Christ, is not like putting on a pair of socks and shoes, or even underware. It is putting on Christ. Allowing Him the life He gave up to save us, to be lived through us. We feel, we know, that we can not do anything without Him. He alone brings out of us the best we can be. Especially when we are going to be dealing with others.
    Look down through history and you will see that more good, has been done in the name of Christ. More people have said that their lives have been changed by Christ. From the guttermost to the uttermost Christ and therefore prayer has instituted changes in individual lives, communities, and societies, more so than any other force in this world. So you wont get Christians to stop praying. For they know what they can be come with out prayer. And why would someone even suggest to go behind the backs of others to exert a change that is not causing harm to others. But simply because they do not believe in their Ideology. Why cause needless friction, waist valuable time and energy, cause needless hurt and pain, just because you don’t believe. If you insist to be part of that neighborhood, part of the Association, which is part of your liberty and privilege to be. Be kind enough to extend the same liberty and privileges to others. If it causes you too much pain to see your fellow human beings subject themselves to the use of the nonsensical use of prayer as a crutch, simply come a little later to the meeting, I’m sure they will undrstand your tardiness, and not wait for you to arrive just to harras you. Please, please, don’t try to exercise your rights to try and cancel out the rights of others. They believe He is there even if you do not. Why would you insist that they do not believe just because your are there. Many if not all would, if there were guns pointing at them, and people threatening them their death, if they began to pray, would choose death. These same Christians would even place themselves in harm away to prevent your death. Why? Because they believe in Him to whom they are praying to. I would suggest to look, listen, learn, oh and believe. At least that will be my and all of our prayes for you, and others who hae yet to meet our Savior.

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