Battle over Christmas decorations raises questions about religio - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Battle over Christmas decorations raises questions about religious tolerance, freedom

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(CNN photo) (CNN photo)

A battle over Christmas decorations in Idaho has garnered national attention.

Jeremy Morris of Hayden, ID said he already got a head start on his Christmas display despite threats from his homeowner’s association.

Music, live animals and lights became part of Morris’s celebration.

“There’s about 10,000 [lights],” Morris said. “I’m not sure anymore. It’s complicated.”

Morris has been planning his second annual Christmas light show since last year’s holiday.

He said that’s what prompted him to buy a larger home in the West Hayden Estates Homeowner’s Association.

“This is an event that build’s memories for children,” Morris said.

He said it also raises money for children with cancer and homelessness.

He figured a bigger property meant a bigger light show and a bigger check to write to those charities.

However, his plan hit a snag.

“We were contacted by our homeowner’s association and they made it pretty clear to us that Christmas is offensive to a lot of non-Christians,” Morris said.

Many people around the country who heard Morris’s story said they thought the HOA was preventing Christmas spirit.

“We’re not going anywhere,” Morris said. “We’re not taking a single bulb off this house. We’re going to continue to celebrate Christmas in this community and moreover, we’re going to raise as much money for charity as possible.”

In the HOA’s formal complaint, nowhere does it mention anything about Christmas or religion.

According to the HOA’s letter, the county requires a permit to hold special events. Even if Morris applied for the permit, he wouldn’t get it because special events are not allowed in residential neighborhoods.

The HOA cited concerns about excessive traffic on the quiet street, flood lighting that would disturb the neighbors and violations of the HOA laws that Morris agreed to when he bought the home.

The HOA’s attorney Scott Poorman said Morris is trying to spin this into religious intolerance.

Poorman said the HOA isn’t trying to disrupt Christmas, it’s trying to prevent a neighborhood nuisance.

Still, Morris said he won’t back down.

He said he’ll go to jail before a single light bulb is removed.

“We have freedom of association, we have freedom of religion, we have freedom of speech” he said. “And regardless of whether or not the HOA thinks they can take that right away, there’s a federal court that’s about to tell them they’re not going to take anything away.”

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