The Bay View Association of the United Methodist Church, located in Northern Michigan on Little Traverse Bay, was founded in 1875 by Methodists “for scientific and intellectual culture, and for the promotion of religion and morality.” It has served as a Methodist camp meeting site and a Chautauqua. Chautauqua is a cultural, religious and political education movement that began in the 1870s. The association is incorporated as a domestic nonprofit organization, establishing it as “a body politic and corporate” under Michigan law since 1889. Today, there are about 440 cottages, 30 community buildings, two hotels, and other private buildings located on the 340 acres owned by the association.
The founding documents of the camp indicate it has always maintained an explicitly Christian mission, with the original membership requirements being 21 years old and of “good moral character”. Sounds somewhat Hoppean, doesn’t it? In 1947 the by-laws were revised to note accepted members must be 21 years old, of “good moral character”, Caucasian, and Christian. Evidence of a Christian faith had to be provided, which included a testimony from a Christian minister. The Caucasian provision was removed in 1959. Between the 1960s and 1980s, a quota on the amounts of Catholic members was established, with Catholics not to exceed 10% of the total membership.
As with membership, property owners and leasers within the association had to be Christian and of a “good moral character”. In fact, property owners could only transfer their property to their children if they were in fact Christian.
In 2011, the association began to feel real pressure from within and outside of the organization to change its Christian only status. The members held a vote, and the status was maintained by a 52% vote. Another vote was held in 2013, and the status was again maintained by another 52% vote.
In mid-2017, a civil rights lawsuit was filed against the association by “The Bay View Chautauqua Inclusiveness Group” in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, citing religious discrimination. The suit claimed the association was violating Michigan’s civil rights act and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
In 2019, mediation resulted in an agreement. The association agreed to remove its religious requirement for association membership and property ownership. The agreement was implemented on July 18, 2019. After the agreement was made, the association’s mission statement continued to maintain Christian values and traditions, but the 144 year tradition of the organization’s membership and property ownership rules were no more.
The association, like many people and organizations during the last few decades, fell victim to the rise of Cultural Marxism and the DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) Regime. This example reiterates the fact freedom of association is illegal in the United States.