Illinois assures condo owners right to religious displays

By The Associated Press

Editor’s note: The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in July 2008 that a rule barring religious displays on doors and in hallways in condominiums did not violate the Fair Housing Act. Though a law in Illinois guarantees the right to have religious displays, Chicago resident Lynne Bloch sued her condominium complex for previously prohibiting her from displaying a traditional Jewish mezuzah. The case is Bloch v. Frischholz.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed legislation last week guaranteeing condominium owners the right to display religious objects at their homes.

The measure sponsored by state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz and state Sen. Ira Silverstein, both Chicago Democrats, takes effect Jan. 1, 2007, and was prompted by several cases in which co-op boards and condo associations attempted to ban the display of religious symbols on doors and in hallways, Blagojevich's office said in a statement.

In one case, the office said, a Jewish owner of a condo in Chicago had returned home from her husband's funeral to find that her management company had forcibly removed from her door a mezuzah, a small case containing a scroll that bears text from the Torah affixed to a door-post as a sign of faith.

"Banning the display of mezuzahs, which is a religious obligation for Jewish people, is unconscionable," Feigenholtz said in the statement. "This legislation will clarify condo regulations to reflect clear legislative intent to make it permissive to do so."

The Chicago City Council passed a similar measure last December.