California widow, 86, says she was evicted for sharing her faith

A conservative law firm claims an 86-year-old California widow was evicted from her apartment complex because of her religious activity and age.

Diana Martin had been living in the Windgate Village Apartments in Hanford for almost 14 years when she claims she was suddenly evicted and told it was because of her religious activities -- sharing her faith and offering to pray for people -- as reasons why she must relocate.

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She said she was singled out because of her age and that her parking spot was moved further away, making it difficult to reach. And, when she complained, she said she was described as "combative."

Ultimately, she complied and moved out. But she reached out to Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), a Christian legal non-profit, after hearing about a similar case in which a great-grandmother was threatened with eviction from the Veterans Home of California for leading a Bible study.

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The firm accuses John Draxler, the building owner and the city's vice-mayor, of telling her outright she was being evicted because of her religious activities. Draxler could not immediately be reached for comment.

PJI filed a formal charge of discrimination that is "wrong on so many levels" with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

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"No one should be evicted based on their religious expression, but especially not an elderly great-grandmother," Matthew McReynolds, PJI attorney representing Martin, said in a statement. "We are hopeful that a state investigation and remedial action will ensure this doesn’t happen to anyone else in this community.”