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Aine

Christian Wins "Battle Over Christmas" Against Neighbors

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Aine

I just read this article and I don't think I've seen it mentioned on here so I thought I'd share:

https://www.inlander.com/spokane/how-one-mans-quest-to-spread-christmas-cheer-led-to-a-miserable-four-year-war-with-his-neighborhood/Content?oid=15109011

Cliff notes version:

- Christian man in Idaho is obsessed with Christmas from childhood and decides to turn his house into not just a few decorations, or even a lot of decorations but into a Christmas show extravaganza in his suburban neighborhood complete with over 200,000 lights, live camels, actors playing characters from the nativity, loud live music and stereo music, another actor dressed as Santa, has bus loads of people come on in to the streets because he advertises it, for five to seven days straight. He does put out collections for two Christian charities but that is not even listed as among his top motivations. He believes this is his ministry and God led him to do this. The fact that neighbors do not appreciate it means that they are discriminating against him based on his religion. Jury in court actually just agreed that the housing association was discriminatory and he won his case. It is going to appeal.

- The guy, Jeremy Morris, is probably fundie-lite by the sounds of it- Jerry Falwell convinced him to study law at Liberty University, he sees himself as a 'warrior for Christ' etc

- Morris seems to have a serious persecution complex and grandiose thoughts about his owns actions and importance and seeks the limelight (as a psychologist, it would be irresponsible for me to speak to his mental health ;) ...but there are some strong narcissistic overtones and he seems to become slightly unhinged and act like a bully when anyone disagrees with him and I didn't note one iota of empathy for others from him in the entire story).

- Tactics he has used against his neighbors include recording every conversation, taking note of any violation any neighbors makes no matter how small of ordinances such as trash cans too close to the curb or in one case, an elderly woman owning three little dogs when the HOA says a maximum of two (the dogs have not caused any problems) and he taunts neighbors by asking, "Which dog should we take from her?"...because if she gets to keep 3 dogs, he should obviously get to put on his 'show'

There are so many wtf moments in this story. I need to run to work but have at it, guys! Would love to hear your thoughts!

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Black Aliss
2 hours ago, Aine said:

Would love to hear your thoughts!

I have just one: Christ, what an asshole!

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Aine
Just now, Black Aliss said:

I have just one: Christ, what an asshole!

That was basically my main thought too! There is so much assholery in that article. The point where he told the journalist that if he paints him negatively in the article, then there would be legal consequences for him too?! I'm so glad the journalist clearly did a thorough job and included that in there because I can guarantee that the journalist protected himself with a recording of Morris knowing he was "on-record" but a man-baby like that can't control what comes out of his mouth when on-record. I think the journalist covered his ass well by doing such a thorough job with verifying it all with documentation and dates and even being very honest about moments when neighbors and the HOA probably did some things they regret in retrospect. But- they're an HOA, run by residents who just want to do their best to make their neighborhood hospitable, not well-seasoned business people or attorneys that could have possibly predicted that this was the shit storm approaching. 

Also, that dude doesn't need any help from a journalist for him to come off as an asshole. All you need to do is quote him. 

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ViolaSebastian

I've heard some bananas home owner association stories, but I feel like they're in the right on this one. Live camels, thousands of people, cars parked on other people's lawns and driveways? No. That's not a "Christmas display," that's a freaking festival. I don't blame the neighbors for being aggravated one bit--I wouldn't want a multi-day, thousand people extravaganza on my street, either--regardless of whether its Christians or Satanists. People have a right to the quiet enjoyment of their property, and he's clearly violating that. 

I realize he raises money for a good cause, but surely his church has a better set up to accommodate that number of people. 

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feministxtian

Even though I am a Christian, I'd put a damn pentagram up and dare him to challenge me. 

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Aine
1 minute ago, feministxtian said:

Even though I am a Christian, I'd put a damn pentagram up and dare him to challenge me. 

I thought that too! I would totally be the person setting up an excessive Pagan display and seeing if his way of seeing things applied to me too. Although I wouldn't get the crowds and that's the biggest issue with all of this.

7 minutes ago, ViolaSebastian said:

I've heard some bananas home owner association stories, but I feel like they're in the right on this one.

Yeah, I've heard some crazy ones too. Our old HOA asked us to repaint our wooden outdoor table on our porch that is tiny, it's designed for two seats and big enough for two to sit and have a coffee but you wouldn't even be able to put two dinner plates on it and eat comfortably, because it was painted green (and like a tasteful kind of muted lime green?) and you could barely see it from the street because of our front garden blocking the view. The guy running it at the time was on a massive power-trip and didn't actually consult with the board before issuing the warning that said outdoor furniture needed to have a natural wood finish and could not be painted "bright colors that can be an eyesore". The board were not impressed with him when we went to the monthly meeting and were like wtf. But I know HOAs can be pretty crazy and bothersome at times in much worse ways than my story. But I'd be expecting my HOA to nip this Christmas extravaganza in the bud real quick because I pay fees for them to stop shit like this in my neighborhood!

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feministxtian

Wonder if he'd flip his shit for a Menorah? 

Y'all KNOW I'd find ways to fuck with him....HARD!!!!

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Aine

The whole "natural finish" thing was not in the guidelines. The only thing in the guidelines was that outdoor furniture should be outdoor furniture (no not an inside couch gathering mold every time it gets wet), it should be fairly easy to move during severe storms (so your neighbor can maybe move it for you if you're not home was the reason given), and don't keep trash in your front yard or on your porches visible to the street. Pretty easy to follow, makes sense, I've had no desire to turn my porch or yard into a rubbish dump at any point in my life nor do I want my trash can visible because gross, and I'd love my ex-elderly neighbor (who was a treasure) to move my furniture into his garage if we were away and a huge storm was coming. But we got two warnings before the next HOA meeting about it when it got sorted. 

Just now, feministxtian said:

Wonder if he'd flip his shit for a Menorah? 

Y'all KNOW I'd find ways to fuck with him....HARD!!!!

So many fundies are a bit in love with Judaism and Israel. I'd probably go all out for Eid with 'Eid Mubarak!' signs and decorations...if I could reasonably convince a court that I was Muslim. It might take some preparation but I could be committed. Because we all know he'd totally take you to court for it 😛 

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FaithAndReason

There was a similar situation in our area several years ago--big lights display done by one guy but in this case he got his whole cul de sac to let him do their houses, complete with music. It was a huge draw for several years, included traffic control at the major streets because the traffic would get so backed up with cars waiting to drive through the display. We did it twice and our kids loved the novelty of it. But the traffic situation got out of hand, people in all directions couldn't get to their homes after work without sitting in the lines....it was pretty bad. Finally they had the guy create a display on some soccer fields. That lasted a few years and as far as I know, it's completely died out by this time. This guy also collected donations for local charities. Thankfully it never erupted into a religious fight, which is quite surprising for where I live. 

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Hane

I used to work for an electric company. We once had a customer who claimed “discrimination” regarding her high December bill (she had a ginormous display of Christmas lights) and said we were prejudiced against Christians. The public utility authority didn’t agree.

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ViolaSebastian
2 minutes ago, Hane said:

I used to work for an electric company. We once had a customer who claimed “discrimination” regarding her high December bill (she had a ginormous display of Christmas lights) and said we were prejudiced against Christians. The public utility authority didn’t agree.

Wow. I guess I missed which part of her Bible said that Christmas had to be celebrated with a humongous light display. :my_confused: 

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AmazonGrace

It seems completely reasonable to me. Everyone knows Jesus told us to celebrate his birthday by decorating your house with a ton of plastic crap.

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Aine
8 minutes ago, FaithAndReason said:

There was a similar situation in our area several years ago--big lights display done by one guy but in this case he got his whole cul de sac to let him do their houses, complete with music. It was a huge draw for several years, included traffic control at the major streets because the traffic would get so backed up with cars waiting to drive through the display. We did it twice and our kids loved the novelty of it. But the traffic situation got out of hand, people in all directions couldn't get to their homes after work without sitting in the lines....it was pretty bad. Finally they had the guy create a display on some soccer fields. That lasted a few years and as far as I know, it's completely died out by this time. This guy also collected donations for local charities. Thankfully it never erupted into a religious fight, which is quite surprising for where I live. 

There is a cul-de-sac that goes off a no-through-road that is off a major thoroughfare in the city my Dad lives in and for as long as I can remember, the whole cul-de-sac and the road it goes off (probably 25-30 houses all up) go all out with massive Christmas displays and different scenes people can walk through and things. It's amazing and it also raises money for charities. But they all do it, some houses more extravagant than others but they are all well above the norm and they only turn it all on for maybe 3 hours per night in the month of December. It's Australia too so Christmas is in the Summer and it's daylight savings time so it goes from maybe 6-9pm each night, enough time for people to get home from work, and the weather is good so the residents usually hang outside and their kids play. As it grew to everyone on the street and cul-de-sac and started raising so much money, the council decided to ask residents what they thought about asking for volunteers to block off the street to cars, except for residents and their guests who would have permits, for just those three weeks or so and the council would turn a big block of vacant land into a still grassed temporary parking lot (they spray the lines in and put up temporary signs) and also add some crossing guards from a park across the main road that had a lot of parking too. They wanted to minimize the chance of kids being hit by cars.

It really brings this little neighborhood in a big city together as a community and they try and do it as respectfully as possible for everyone as it has grown. They're on the local news every year frequently and I remember one family having their first year of living in the cul-de-sac for Christmas and them saying they'd put their old house up for sale when they heard a resident there was selling because they loved Christmas so much and wanted to be apart of it. The ex-owners who were elderly and among the original residents to start it all were there to be interviewed too and they'd bequeathed the majority of their extensive Christmas decoration and lighting collection to the new owners and had helped this young couple and their kids put their display together for the first time a few weeks before. It's pretty neat. I wouldn't want to live there but I wouldn't buy there because it's an awesome tradition and I don't think I have the spirit for it.

They also run it all off solar power these days- so not ruining the environment or their bank account with electricity bills ;) 

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ViolaSebastian
16 minutes ago, AmazonGrace said:

It seems completely reasonable to me. Everyone knows Jesus told us to celebrate his birthday by decorating your house with a ton of plastic crap.

Some say that the three wise men brought gold, frankencense, and myrrh. But I have it on good authority that they brought a Frosty the Snowman inflatable, a plastic snowman and reindeer to put on the roof of the manger, and an aluminum Christmas tree. True story. 

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Maggie Mae

Just another example of why Evangelicals are dicks. 

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TheOneAndOnly

I read this earlier and it made me rage. 

If you want to do something big, why live where there's a HOA? Get a nice place in the country for this stuff.

If the Father, Son and Holy Ghost exist, and if they've ever heard of Jeremy Morris, they're likely dying of shame.

If a neighbor snaps and aims a weapon at this guy? I honestly hope they don't miss.

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Alisamer

If I lived next to that guy I'd probably make a business opportunity out of it - hot chocolate, cookies and tarot readings for sale - parking $20!

31 minutes ago, Hane said:

I used to work for an electric company. We once had a customer who claimed “discrimination” regarding her high December bill (she had a ginormous display of Christmas lights) and said we were prejudiced against Christians. The public utility authority didn’t agree.

I don't know if they still do, but ages ago a local town known as Christmastown (or may have been the major employer the town grew up around) would pay the difference between November and December electric bills because the whole town is encouraged to decorate for Christmas. Even empty houses got decorated. There's one house that's never done more than window candles and a wreath, but the whole rest of the town goes all out and thousands of people drive through to see the lights. The lights have been going on for many many years - I'm just not sure if they still help pay for the bill. 

The war on Christmas crap is seriously crap. I'm Christian but I know full well that most Christian holidays are largely modified pagan celebrations, and the pagan ones frankly make more sense as they are based on the cycle of the year. 

I say happy holidays because there are so many holidays this time of year. i want them all to be happy. 

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Aine
2 minutes ago, Alisamer said:

I say happy holidays because there are so many holidays this time of year. i want them all to be happy.

I'm an atheist but grew up Catholic. I have never in my life been even slightly annoyed by someone wishing me "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Hanukkah" or "Eid Mubarak" or if we want to go more secular, "Happy Thanksgiving" (as a non-American that has indigenous heritage in my home country, I'm sure I could mount an argument about being offended by Thanksgiving if I was looking to be offended by all things and miserable). I was never offended by "Happy Holidays" or any of the greetings people of other faiths give at that time of year either. It's said with warmth and good wishes- it's not said to offend or because they want you to believe what they do. None of this is directed at you, @Alisamer, I've just never understood the fuss about it all. 

I miss being in Australia for Eid-al-Adha and Eid-al-Fitr...I always hope to be invited to the family celebration of one of my friends because it's super fun and the food is amazing and I love it when they tell me what to 'cheer' or pray or greet in Arabic or what to say and do when various things happen and not a single person in any of their families thinks I am Islamic nor do they have any desire to convert me. They just find joy in sharing their celebration with others and I find joy in being apart of it and learning- even if I can't eat or move for a solid day afterwards as my body tries to digest the insane amount of food I consume. I invite my friends to my family's Christmas celebration too and my family adores feeding them and spending time with them.

I just cannot wrap my head around some people's desire to be offended by other people being nice even if they're different from you. It's ironic that those same people are the ones who want to discriminate against or say awful things about LGBTIA+ people or women or immigrants (etc etc etc) with no kind or warm intent and get all up in arms over people not liking others being actually cruel to them and then they call them the snowflakes. People are weird. 

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Maggie Mae
13 minutes ago, Alisamer said:

If I lived next to that guy I'd probably make a business opportunity out of it - hot chocolate, cookies and tarot readings for sale - parking $20!

I think it would be really frustrating to live next door and not be able to go home in a timely fashion because you have to wait for the busses and line of traffic, then when you go get your dog and want to go for a walk, you have to parade past this line of cars all staring out the window. Can you imagine trying to go for a run after work and having to run past a bus full of people gawking at the camel? Or trying to get your bird to go to sleep but the stupid neighbors keep waking him up with terrible Christmas music that he then parrots? And then, when you go over to talk to the neighbor, like a good neighbor, he yells at you or tries to get you to buy into your religion? I don't think I would have the patience to start selling stuff to these people, I'd just be so frustrated! 

 

13 minutes ago, Alisamer said:

The war on Christmas crap is seriously crap. I'm Christian but I know full well that most Christian holidays are largely modified pagan celebrations, and the pagan ones frankly make more sense as they are based on the cycle of the year. 

I say happy holidays because there are so many holidays this time of year. i want them all to be happy. 

It's not a War on Christmas to allow other people to celebrate or choose not to! No one is saying "You can't say Happy Christmas!" Why are these people so dense? 

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ViolaSebastian
39 minutes ago, Maggie Mae said:

then when you go get your dog and want to go for a walk, you have to parade past this line of cars all staring out the window.

I don't have dogs now, but I have in the past, and they would have barked for five days straight if there were tons of people and a freakin' camel outside. Just another way it'd be a nightmare to live in this neighborhood.

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NachosFlandersStyle

Several years ago my parents moved to a neighborhood known for Christmas displays. I HATE IT. Whenever I visit for the holidays* there are lines of cars because I guess people like to drive around and look at lights? Their neighbor across the street has one of those setups that plays music and it drives me insane. You can hear it inside my parents' house at night if they forget to turn it off. I don't even like to go shopping this time of year on account of the Christmas music; why would you want that at your house?!?!

Anyway, the HOA sounds awful (that comment about bringing "undesirables" into the neighborhood!) But the neighbors themselves I have plenty of sympathy for.

My favorite part is the caption under the photo of Morris: "Before he became Mr. Christmas, Jeremy Morris made news for trying to ride a horse across the state of Louisiana to promote voting, despite his doctors warning him that injuries from a car accident made that a bad idea."

*I say "for the holidays" not out of political correctness but because this stuff literally goes up the day after Thanksgiving.

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SecularMusic

I'm a Christian but wouldn't want this God-awful display in my neighborhood. Call me a Scrooge, but I'm not a fan of over-the-top light displays. Add on music and live animals and I'd lose my mind, especially if his display was shining into my windows. Plus, who wants hundreds of extra cars on their street?

My hubby puts a wreath on our door and icycle lights on our porch and that's enough for me.

That said, when I was growing up there was a local electrician who created a movable Santa's workshop in his front yard. You could press a button on his fence and Sansa and his elves would make presents and there were lights all around but it was a blue collar neighborhood with small post World War II homes so it was nothing like the house on the news link. I would've late for school sometimes bc id stop to press the button over and over.

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Briefly
48 minutes ago, Maggie Mae said:

It's not a War on Christmas to allow other people to celebrate or choose not to! No one is saying "You can't say Happy Christmas!" Why are these people so dense? 

Sometimes it seems to be by choice.  They get attention.  Or ignorance, I have one particular facebook friend that always, every year without fail will post about how we need to get rid of X-mas because that's part of the war on Christmas - taking the word Christ out of Christmas.  Last year, I replied to her with a link to a site that explained how the X actually was a shortened version of the word Christ.  I don't remember all the details, but the short version is that X-mas = Christ-mas.  She never answered me. As far as I know, she has not posted it yet this year.  She's actually the mother of a friend of mine but I somehow managed to friend her.

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Maggie Mae

My dad complained about X-Mas way back in the early 90s, because he thought it was crossing out Christ, which was a conclusion he came to on his own. (This was before Fox News existed, and we probably didn't have cable anyway.) I thought it just looked dumb and lazy to write "Merry X-Mas" on the window in cotton puffs. (I very much remember this conversation from 1992.) Weirdly enough, he never really mentioned it again, and at some point the meme was going around Facebook and he was super excited to tell me how the X in Marry Christmas didn't mean anything sinister. 

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Black Aliss
2 hours ago, AmazonGrace said:

It seems completely reasonable to me. Everyone knows Jesus told us to celebrate his birthday by decorating your house with a ton of plastic crap.

Especially a sleigh. It's not a Christian Christmas without that big red sleigh in your driveway, and " an antique cotton-candy machine, a professional mandolin player and volunteers dressed as Santa Claus, Rudolph, Frosty, Christmas elves, the Grinch and Clifford the Christmas Dog." Personally, I think he's discriminating against his neighbors, who appear to be celebrating Festivus by airing their grievances.

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