A Christian couple in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, have refused to comply with a homeowners association demand that they take down a "Jesus" Christmas display from their yard that one complainant deemed "offensive."
The Gettysburg Times reports that Lynn and Mark Wivell refused to obey their homeowners association's demand that they remove a white sign from their yard that had the word Jesus written on it in red garland lettering. The sign stands above a miniature nativity scene.
Although the Wivells have lived in the community since 2005, this was the first year they put up the handmade Christmas display.
"I just felt it was time to acknowledge I'm a Christian," Mark Wivell told the newspaper.
The homeowners association for the Courtyards community at the Links of Gettysburg received a complaint that the sign was "offensive" no less than 24 hours after the couple put up their Christmas display on Dec. 16.
Although the birth of Christ is the reason why Christmas is celebrated, the community's governing body sided with the complainant and ordered the sign to be taken down. A member of the association's executive committee sent the couple an email that stated the sign "wasn't in accordance with normal Christmas decorations," according to WHP-TV.
The couple, however, would not cave to the demands.
"We feel that is what Christmas is all about," Lynn Wivell told WHP-TV. "Jesus is first. So we are celebrating His birthday and this is how we decided to do it."
Mark Wivell said that "we wanted to show with our house that the real reason for Christmas is the birth of Jesus."
"We were just kind of shocked that someone would take offense to what Christmas is all about," Lynn Wivell added.
After refusing to take down the display, the homeowners association sent a second email to the Wivells further explaining the reasons why the display had to be moved. According to WHP-TV, the three-person board told the couple that the Jesus sign violates the rules against signs in the neighborhood.
The Gettysburg Times reports that the agreement that all homeowners sign when they purchase property in the neighborhood states that "No signs or billboard of any kind shall be displayed to the public view on any unit."
"We simply cannot decide to enforce some standards and allow other standards to be ignored," the board was quoted as arguing in the second email to the Wivells.
That explanation did not sit well with the Wivells and they again refused to take down the sign.
"This is a Christmas decoration and our Christmas decoration adheres to the rules in our covenant about Christmas decorations. So there is no problem there," Mark Wivell asserted.
"We have no plans to take it down," he added.
WHP-TV reports that the couple will not take the decorations down until the Jan. 15, 2018, deadline set by the neighborhood for Christmas decorations to come down.
"Everyone is offended at some point or another during their life. You don't have the right to not be offended," Mark Wivell told CBS 21.
However, at least one of the Wivells' neighbors disagrees, saying that the Wivells elected to do the "non-Christian thing."
"Clearly I'm not opposed to Christmas," neighbor Neil Blevins told CBS 21. "My wife and I sort of reacted the same way when we saw the sign. I am not the person who complained but we both thought it was sort of a finger being raised. I have no problem with that if that's what they want to do. I have a problem if other members of the community find it offensive. They have elected to do the non-Christian thing."