The Dallas Housing Authority has reveresed a recent decision to block a church from holding services at a public housing complex.
Housing authority president MaryAnn Russ said she misspoke when she said Lake Highlands United Methodist Church cannot hold services at the Audelia Manor Apartments because it violates the separation of church and state as described in the U.S. Constitution.
The church services, Russ said, violated the constitutional separation of church and state and the city housing authority's contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which funds public housing programs.
Some residents who live at the complex and attend the services were upset by the housing authority's initial decision.
"A lot of us are older people," said resident Myrna Hardy, 84, who has attended the services since they began. "We've been to church all of our life, and we can't get out to go to other churches very easily."
Jerry Brown, a HUD spokesman based in Washington, D.C., said there may be a misunderstanding. The Fair Housing Act allows religious activity in common areas of public housing as long as it does not result in unequal treatment of residents, Brown said, adding that HUD would "like to chat" with the DHA.
The watchdog group Americans United for Separation of Church and State said it wasn't opposed to the church holding its services at the housing complex, as long as no federal funds were used, other religious groups could also hold services and residents were not forced to attend or subjected to unwanted proselytizing.
The DHA will now allow the church to continue holding worship services as they have for the last 14 years.