Even though Christmas has become quite a secular holiday for most people, it’s religious significance has not changed for Christians. As these two ideologies continue to overlap and change, some major disagreements between people can emerge. This is definitely the case for one Christian family in Pennsylvania who did not realize their neighbours would get so offended by their lawn decorations.
The decoration in question was made by Mark Wivell, a resident of Gettysburg. He made a little nativity scene in his front hard and placed a simple sign that read ‘Jesus’ above it. More than a few complaints were made in the neighbourhood until the homeowner’s association had no choice but to ask Wivell to remove the signage.
Wivell told a Fox affiliate why he put the decoration up.
“As part of our Christmas decoration, we would display the name Jesus to point out to everyone that we in this family believe that the reason for the season is to celebrate the birth of Jesus.”
The HOA issued an official email to Wivell telling him his decorations were in clear violation of community regulations. The regulation is very clear in stating “no signs or billboards of any kind shall be displayed to the public view on any unit.”
It appears the Wivells will not remove the sign. Perhaps they are just doing their due diligence as Christians in following the world of Jesus when he said to his disciplines in John 15:18 “if the world hates you, keep in mind it hated me first.”
This whole sign issue raises a couple serious questions. The first question is: why does the man care so much about putting up a Jesus sign?
There are a lot of very religious Christians who feel it is their God-given right to celebrate the holidays in the way the Bible teaches them. It’s a fact that Christmas is a holiday because it’s when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. So there is a strong social acceptance for Jesus-worship in our society already, and the Wivells should be able to express their opinion about the birth of Jesus in any way they want – as long as it’s in the privacy of their own home. That’s the law.
The second question it raises is about privacy. Should the Wivells be banned from sharing their religious views in public? We think the law makes sense. Just imagine if we did not have the law. People would start putting signs up all over the place declaring their beliefs. They would also start tearing down (or plastering over) signs or posters from other religious perspectives. It would just be a total mess for the community, police, and city administration. So this is why we think the law makes sense.
In the end, our verdict is that the Wivells should follow the law and take down their Jesus sign. They can celebrate Jesus just as much as they want to as long as it’s in private. The public realm needs to remain as a-religious as possible – that’s part of the American freedom we all love and fight for.