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Judge: Homeless Shelter Exempt from Discrimination Laws


Anti-discrimination statutes do not apply to an Idaho homeless shelter run by Christians because it is not a "dwelling," a federal district judge has ruled.

Moreover, the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects the Boise Rescue Mission Ministries' right to hold Christian services and encourage participants in its drug and alcohol recovery program to accept Christianity, U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge ruled last Thursday (Sept. 10).

The 51-year-old non-profit says it runs three shelters that serve more than 28,000 meals and offers 8,000 beds to homeless persons each month. Lodge ruled that the shelters are not dwellings under the Fair Housing Act, but rather places of "temporary sojourn or transient visit."

At the same time, barring the Boise ministry from "teaching, preaching and proselytizing to individuals on its property, whether they be shelter guests, Discipleship program residents, or other individuals ... would substantially burden the Rescue Mission's ability to freely ...

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