A Pennsylvania family has been ordered by their homeowners’ association to take down an “offensive” Christmas display because it contains the word “Jesus,” USA Today is reporting.
Mark Wivell and his wife, Lynn, live in The Links at Gettysburg, an upscale golf course-adjacent subdivision in the historic Pennsylvania city. Last week, the couple put up a rather subdued Christmas display: a manger scene, with a plaque above it with the word “JESUS” spelled out in red garland. Mickey and Minnie Mouse sit nearby, while a few lights add some flair.
Wivell says that Christmas is about, you know, the birth of Jesus Christ, so it makes sense that the name would come up on his display.
“I’m looking at this as a forum to promote what Christmas is all about. We wanted our neighbors to know how we feel. I don’t want this to be about me though. I want it to be about the birth of Jesus.”
The HOA, however, didn’t see things that way. After a neighbor claimed that it was offensive, the HOA pointed out to Wivell, in a letter, that his display can technically be considered a sign, which violates HOA rules, according to Fox News.
A neighborhood homeowners association asked a Pennsylvania family to remove their “Jesus” Christmas display. https://t.co/vYggVYjzTL
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) December 23, 2017
Bud Vance, the president of the HOA, says signs aren’t allowed, period.
“After taking a look at it, it isn’t in accordance with normal Christmas decorations.”
Lynn Wivell says the family’s neighbors are on their side.
“We have gotten tremendous support from our neighbors here at the Links and that just makes us feel so good.”
The Wivells say they don’t intend to take down their “offensive” Christmas display until January 15, when they’re required to take down all holiday decorations – by HOA rules, of course.
This is not the first time a Homeowners Association has made the news for asking a member to take down a sign, display, flag, or whatever. In fact, HOAs have a reputation for sometimes insisting on almost comically punctilious obedience to the rules, against all reason and sanity.
For example, as Fox News reported back in August, Vietnam veteran John Ackert, a retired naval officer, ran afoul of his Florida HOA for painting his mailbox to look like the American flag. The Southwood Residential Community in Tallahassee said the patriotic colors were not “in consonance” with the “aesthtic values” of the neighborhood and ordered him to take it down. Ackert refused, and the HOA eventually relented.