Welcome to an unforgettable Chautauqua experience…

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This website celebrates the unique heritage of Bay View, a Chautauqua on Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay. On these pages, you’ll also find news and opinion about the challenges facing our community as we seek answers to the hard questions surrounding Bay View’s current membership practices.
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WEBSITE FOLLOWS UNFOLDING COMMUNITY CRISIS: The Friends of the Bay View Chautauqua website has documented past struggles to help Bay View become compliant with Federal law. The following links will help bring the story of this search for justice up to date:

8/17/2018 Here’s Why Petoskey’s Bay View Resort Is Under a Magnifying Glass: The History, Facts and Recent Allegations Against the Historic Landmark by Steve Wilke, Hour Detroit. “Perhaps, since “self-improvement” was part of the original Chautauqua idea, this lawsuit could be a “teachable” moment. Maybe they lose the suit, or perhaps the next time the vote comes around, a two-thirds majority will bring at least the membership requirement aspects of Bay View into the current century,:

8/8/2018 Bay View Eliminates ‘Christian Persuasion’ Bylaw.  Detroit News.

8/7/2018 Bay View Members Approve Historic Change in Membership Requirements Published in the Petoskey News-Review. “The amendment was drafted by five members of the community with “varying perspectives in recognition that we, along with our children, represent the future of Bay View,” according to a memo distributed to Bay View residents and previously obtained by the News-Review.”

8/6/2018 Online at UP NORTH LIVE:  Bay View Association Gets Rid of Christian Practice Requirement.  

8/2/2018  Minute-long public audio disclosure of the proposed terms of settlement from Civil Rights Attorney Sarah Prescott for the plaintiffs made in the public forum on Civil Rights, Religious Freedom and the Bay View Lawsuit  at Stafford’s Bay View Inn on July 23, the same offer made to and rejected by the Bay View Board of Trustees.  [An alternative is paste the following into the address line on your computer  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cq_6s6jxnwI&feature=youtu.be ] Or click “View Online” at:  The Offer from June 2018

8/1/2018 Bay View to Vote on Amending Bylaw, report on TV Channels 9 & 10.

7/31/2018 Petoskey News-Review article: Bay View Lawsuit Case in Limbo Pending Upcoming Bylaw Vote

7/31/2018 WCMU Radio, Federal Judge Delays Opinion in Bay View Case  – Says Sarah Prescott attorney for the plaintiffs suing Bay View for religious discrimination: “To have them come to court four days ahead of some vote and say ‘don’t come after us Judge we might change this’ seems like a game, honestly. They are playing a game.” Also aired on WMUK: Judge Delays Opinion

7/26/2018  NPR News Report by Ben Thorpe WCMU Bay View Community Grapples with Suit Alleging Housing DiscriminationReport on Channels 4 & 7: Bay View Members Discuss Lawsuit Heading to Court on Monday.

7/25/2018  Speech by Sarah Prescott, Award Winning Civil Rights lawyer and attorney for the plaintiffs in the religious discrimination lawsuit against the Bay View Association.  Ms. Prescott also is a cooperating attorney with the Michigan ACLU. Presented at the Bay View Inn at 7 PM on July 23, 2018. Civil Rights, Religious Freedom, and the Bay View Lawsuit. Click on the link and use the password BV to hear an audio of the full presentation.

6/23/2018 AP [Associated Press] Wire Service picks up the story. It ran or was aired in media in Petoskey, Kalamazoo, Traverse City, Portland [OR], Texas, San Francisco, Virginia, Kansas, among others. Feds Investigate Michigan Town for Religious Discrimination.

6/22/2018 Published in the Detroit Free Press:  Michigan Community that Requires Church Membership Under Investigation. “We’re fighting for the soul of this place.”

6/21/2018 Published in the Detroit News: Bay View Resort’s Ban on Non-Christians Faces Legal Challenge.  “…change is coming, one way or another. If the non-Christian ban remains, residents will move away and Bay View will change from a positive anachronism into a negative one…”

5/19/2018 5/19/2018  Heartbursts: Only Christians Can Own Cottages in Michigan? I Author Thomas Bandy concludes, based on his research into Michigan cultural demographics:  “I suspect the neighborhood association outside Petoskey will quickly change their policy. And I imagine United Methodist Conferences across the country will revise policies one way or another. But that doesn’t mean there will be healing. That requires demographic and lifestyle empathy.”

5/16/2018 Published in the Petoskey News-Review:  Feds to Probe Bay View Discrimination Allegations.  “A federal housing official’s recent letter to the Bay View Association states the seasonal community failed to prove it is exempt from a law that prohibits discriminatory practices — a question which arose in connection with Bay View’s policy requiring cottage owners to be of ‘Christian persuasion’  (. . . ) Earlier this month the American Civil Liberties Union filed an amicus brief backing opponents of Bay View’s religious requirements. In the brief, the ACLU states: ‘The Bay View’s religious restriction for home ownership harkens back to a shameful era in Michigan and U.S. history when overt discrimination and segregation in housing on the basis of race, religion and other protected characteristics was rampant.”

5/9/2018 NPR publishes a followup to its earlier article:  Feds Says Bay View Isn’t Exempt from Housing Discrimination.  In a May 7 letter to the complainants and Bay View’s attorney, John Meade –an enforcement branch chief in HUD’s Midwest Regional Office – wrote: “This letter is regarding the above complaint alleging that acts of discrimination have been committed in violation of the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (the “Act”). The United State Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Region V, has determined that the Respondent Bay View Association has not met its burden to prove it is exempt from the federal Fair Housing Act. The investigation into the violations alleged by the Complainants shall now commence.”‘

6/22/2018 Published in the Detroit News, “…change is coming, one way or another.If the non-Christian ban remains, residents will move away and Bay View will change from a positive anachronism into a negative one…”,  Bay View resort’s ban on non-Christians faces legal challenge.  

5/10/2018 Published in The Hill:  HUD: MIchigan community barring non-Christians isn’t exempt from fair housing rules.

5/1/2018 Article appearing in the ACLU Newsletter, ‘Beautiful Lakeshore Views Abound in this Resort Town—But Only for Churchgoing Christians.’

4/15/2018 Article on NPR Michigan Radio, There’s a lawsuit unfolding in Bay View, where only Christians can own homes.  Now a podcast of the interview is also available online: 4/16/2018    Running regular on NPR National.

3/30/2018  ‘Methodist Resort in Michigan Says Christians Only Can Buy Property There’, published on National NPR website and on NPR radio. “Whether they acknowledge it or not, they are condoning a form of prejudice. And the world is moving past that.”

3/26/2018 Walter Olson on Overlawyered website, ‘certainly, Bay View is out of step with modern sentiment, and I can’t predict to what extent the courts will tolerate that’:  Lawsuit Challenges Methodist Resort’s ‘Church Attenders Only’ Bylaws.

3/23/2018 Published on the DC Bar News website: First Amendment Fight Brews in ‘Practicing Christians-Only’ Michigan Summer Resort.  Florence Roisman, law professor at Indiana University states: “[Bay View’s] religious restrictions seem to me plainly to violate the Federal Fair Housing Act. . . .”  [This article received more ‘hits’ than any other postings on the DC Bar News website.]

3/22/2018 Article ‘Christians only’ Cottage Ownership Challenged. Published on the national United Methodist News Service website. Quotes Michigan Area Bishop David Bard as saying: “I abhor religious discrimination. I do not think it represents the best of our Methodist heritage.” [The website does not invite comments, but the article also appears on the United Methodist News Service facebook site, where comments are permitted.]

2/16/2018 On the official Michigan Area United Methodist website, Bishop Bard disavows claims that Bay View is controlled by the UMC:  “The conference does not provide any operational oversight or appoint members to the Bay View Association. The bishop, or representative of the bishop’s office, is invited to serve as an ex-officio member of the Bay View Association Board of Trustees, but this role has not been actively exercised in recent years. [. . .] The Bay View Association, separate from both the West Michigan Conference and the United Methodist Church, has its own rules and requirements about who can become a member.”

2/12/2018  Independent American Communities published an article, First Amendment, Fair Housing, & Civil Rights: Can MI HOA discriminate on basis of religious affiliation?  Christian Today ran a summary based on the Guardian Article, Only Christians are Allowed to Buy Houses in this Michigan Town.

2/9/2018 Picked up in The Atlantic online:  What America Is Reading.  Article appears on progressiveliberal.net Town that Allows Only Practicing Christians to  Own Homes Confronted by  Federal Lawsuit.  Picked up in The Week UK:  Story on discrimination in Bay View from The Guardian.

2/9/2018 Within hours, the front page Guardian article received more than 850 comments. Among them:  “In Bay View, only practicing Christians are allowed to buy houses or even inherit them. Bloody amateurs…why would you want those who are still just practicing?  You wouldn’t employee a practicing parachute packer. I’d go for folk who got the hang of it, not idiots who maniacally interpret scripture literally and adhere to dogma rather than those who understand the text is a poetic interpretation of the singular truth that we are one.”

2/9/2018 Not the kind of publicity any community would want: The Guardian’s front page story today on discrimination in Bay View is the most read in the US and 2nd in the world.

2/9/2018 Article in The Guardian, The Michigan Town Where Only Christians Are Allowed to Buy Houses, a sobering analysis of Bay View’s attempts to justify discrimination.

9/11/2017 Article in NY Times,  The South Doesn’t Own Slavery, a challenge to Michiganders to reconsider the state’s history of  perpetuating discrimination

8/2017 The Community Associations Network picks up the article “Prejudice?” from the Petoskey News Review

8/11/2017 Article  in FindLaw.com July 18, 2017, Can Religious Communities Limit Who Lives in a Neighborhood?

8/10/2017 Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists, facebook,  “It is discriminatory to restrict property sales and rentals based on religion.”   Reproduces link from Petoskey News-Review with quote from ACLU legal director Mike Steinberg:  “I strongly urge you [Bay View] to follow the will of the majority of your residents and abandon your religious test for ownership of homes.”

8/7/2017 A Michigan Cottage Town Says Only Christians Are Only Allowed to Own Property There.  Published August 1,  Patheos.com

8/7/2017 About that Complex Michigan Lawsuit: When Does a Christian Camp Turn into a Resort?  Published by  GetReligion.org   Includes powerful Comments about Bay View and the ties to the UMC.  The Answer, Camp to Resort?:  1890. See the article by Attorney and Bay View Member Arthur Anderson—THE FACTS: BAY VIEW’S MEMBERSHIP HISTORY.

8/7/2017 Michigan Resort Sued for Requiring Property Owners to Be Christians. Article in the Christian Daily, Washington, DC.

8/7/2017 Correspondence from Civil Rights Attorney Sarah Prescott, Grand Rapids, to the Bay View Association Board of Trustees,  see MEMBERSHIP ISSUES dated June 28, 2017 and July 18, 2017.

8/5/2017 So-Called ‘Responsibility’ By-Law Amendment Defeated. At the annual meeting of the Bay View Association, the so-called ‘Responsibility’ By-Law Amendment failed to receive the two-thirds votes needed to pass. (Voting No, 290; voting Yes, 360)

8/2/2017 Bay View Membership Rules Are Troubling.  Letter to the Editor, Petoskey News-Review.

7/31/2017 Only Christians Can Own Cottages at this Idyllic Michigan Resort.  MLive.com, Grand Rapids. Civil Rights Attorney Sarah Prescott of Grand Rapids outlines why Bay View’s policies are illegal. (Among the reader comments re: the online version of the article:  “The Assoc. [Bay View] will lose. Nearby, Lake Louise Christian Community did away with these kind of religious restrictions long ago and they were formed by the Bay City group of Methodists.“)

7/28/2017   WHY LONG-TIME BAY VIEW MEMBERS URGE A No-VOTE ON THE SO-CALLED ‘RESPONSIBILITY’ BY-LAW AMENDMENT.  Seven reasons why the amendment threatens the community’s future.

7/27/2017  BAY VIEW WILL NOT LOSE ITS TAX STATUS.  Article by Don Duquette, Attorney and Bay View member.  What effect, if any, will removing the religious test for membership and trustees have on tax deductions for Bay View or its 501 (c)3) non-profit tax status? Short answer: Bay View’s non-profit tax exemption is not in jeopardy.

7/26/2017   A template for Bay View?   Take a look at the website for Lakeside Chautauqua in Ohio.  Lakeside has maintained its Christian focus and worship while meeting federal guidelines for fair housing.  Click on the link:  http://www.lakesideohio.com/about/mission-and-vision

7/25/2017 THE FACTS: Bay View’s Membership History, by Bay View member and attorney Arthur Anderson.

7/25/2017 BAY VIEW ASSOCIATION FACING COMPLAINTS OF DISCRIMINATION Channels 9-10 – Cadillac, Michigan

7/18/2017 BAY VIEW HOMEOWNERS ACCUSE ASSOCIATION OF ENFORCING DISCRIMINATORY BYLAW   Channels 9-10 – Cadillac, Michigan

7/17/2017 GROUP FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST BAY VIEW FOR ‘RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION’  Channel 4 – Traverse City, Michigan

7/18/2017 ROOTS OF BAY VIEW CONTROVERSY TO BACK TO 1940’S  Petoskey News-Review.

7/19/2017 WHAT IS BAY VIEW?  Petoskey News-Review The community crisis in a Nutshell.

7/14/2017 PREJUDICE?  Lawsuit Claims Bay View Religious Requirement Is Discriminatory.  Petoskey News-Review

July, 2014 – My Adventures at the Bay View (Guilt By) Association – by novelist Jamie Ford, Love and Other Consolation Prizes. An account of this prize-winning novelist’s guest artist appearance at Bay View.


Photo: This Boys and Girls Club participant quote says a lot about who we ought to be.

8/14/2013 Open letter to the Bay View Board of Trustees
At today’s Board of Trustees meeting this letter was presented to the BOT requesting they take on a leadership role in the move towards a By-Law change that allows for people on more diverse faith journeys to be a part of our community.

8/8/2013 Petoskey News-Review Article on Bay View Election Results  The Petoskey News-Review published as article in today’s paper on this year’s Bay View membership vote results.  The article can be found using the headline above.

8/3/2013 – Election Results  – Two of three supportive candidates elected and By Law Amendment gains simple majority of the vote.  See details by selecting the headline in Blue above.

8/2/2013 – Methodist Church – Western Michigan conference response to diversity acceptance question.  A question posed to the Methodist Church elicited a response which says a lot about how we should be accepting people on diverse faith journeys.  Select the link above to see the texts of the letter and response.

7/25/2013 – Bay View Clergy Urge a YES vote on the inclusiveness amendment  In a letter published this morning, 15 Bay View Clergy members signed a joint  statement urging a YES vote on the inclusiveness amendment.  For more, click on the headline above.

 7/25/2013  The Facts on this IssueOver the past two weeks Bay View members have received a number of communications from a group of members who call themselves the Heritage Alliance.  These communications present information as factual that is misleading and in many cases inaccurate.  This fact sheet will clarify those misstatements and are all supported by documentation from public records.

7/19/2013 A Letter to Bay View Members This summer a modified proposal for amending the Bay View Bylaws is being put forth for vote by the membership.  There are a number of reasons for voting for this proposal, not the least of which is that current practices not only restrict Bay View to our neighbors of different faiths, but also prevent more than 50% of Christians who are not currently affiliated with a formal church community from qualifying for membership in this community.  For more information click on the title line above. See the 7/13 post (link below) for more details and to review the actual proposal that will be voted on.

7/13/2013
Friends of the Bay View Chautauqua have proposed an Amendment to the Bay View By- Laws

A By-Law Amendment has been proposed that is positive and true to our past, faithful to the vision of our founders and will not change the Bay View you know and love. For more on this important development, including a look at the proposal as submitted, click the  link above.

7/11/2013 –   Legality and Risk – 2013 Update  Recent Legal Opinions Assess Bay View’s Restrictive Membership Requirements with respect to Property Ownership in Bay View

6-6-2013…BV MEMBERSHIP POLICY REPORT, JUNE 2013:  Attorney warns that delays, misinformation and reliance on Becket Fund opinion may put individual BOT members and community at serious fiduciary risk.  The Report updates the campaign to bring the Bay View membershippolicies into compliance with Chautauqua traditions, federal and state Fair Housing laws and the policies of the United Methodist Church  (access Here)
—6-2013…BAY VIEW’S TAX EXEMPTION IS NOT DEPENDENT ON MEMBERSHIP REQUIREMENTS: Clarification by UMC leadership (access Here)
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The stately pillars of Bay View’s Hall Auditorium symbolize the Four Pillars on which programming and community life in this historic summer enclave are based—Education, Religion, Performing Arts and Recreation. Founded in 1875, Bay View is one of 14 members of the Chautauqua Network.

This blog-style website was created to celebrate Bay View’s historic Chautauqua roots and encourage community-wide exchange of ideas. Friends of the Bay View Chautauqua encourage active engagement and dialogue about our future as a Chautauqua community. We do this in the spirit of Christian love and acceptance of all to God’s kingdom.

Bay View is and should remain a Christian community, but one that welcomes to full membership all men and women who have a desire to be part of a community such as this, and are willing to perpetuate its traditional pillars of religion, education, performing arts and recreation.

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This website is not the official website of the Bay View Association. For more information about Bay View events, classes,  and recreational activities, visit bayviewassociation.org.

Chautauqua “is the most American thing in America”
Theodore Roosevelt

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Shown from left in the panorama:  part of the historic Bay View campus including Women’s Council, Bookstore/Secretary’s office and Speakers’ Platform (now Museums), Epworth Hall (faculty housing), Hitchcock (Festival rehearsal rooms) and Hall Auditorium.

[Access comments on this Home page by clicking on the ‘balloon’ near the top of the page or the Replies counter below. All other pages can also accept Comments.] COPYRIGHT: FRIENDS OF THE BAY VIEW CHAUTAUQUA[TM], 2011