The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is investigating claims that a HUD-subsidized property put a prohibition on Christmas decorations.
The property in question is Grandview Estates in Independence, Missouri. It is overseen by MACO Management Company, Inc. Some residents of the property contacted Liberty Counsel after they were told by MACO that they could not put up the Christmas decorations that they had put up for years, including a nativity scene in a front yard.
"We communicated with MACO Management and let them know that it's unconstitutional for them to tell residents, 'You can't put up Christmas decorations,' even if it is HUD-subsidized housing, because HUD has said in written directives that just because it's government subsidized doesn't mean that you can censor their religious viewpoints or the religious displays of residents," Liberty Counsel attorney Roger Gannam tells OneNewsNow. "HUD is investigating this matter, so we expect a favorable resolution."
It is unclear when notice of that resolution will occur.
"We're pretty confident that these residents going forward will be able to enjoy whatever holiday decorations they want," Gannam says.
OneNewsNow is seeking comment from MACO Management, but Gannam says Liberty Counsel received more than one response from MACO after contacting the company.
"The first response pointed us to the lease agreement, which in no way prohibits Christmas decorations or holiday decorations of any kind," the attorney explains. "Then they wrote a letter to residents saying, 'We never really banned Christmas decorations; feel free to decorate inside your house and on your porch,' which, of course, means that you can't do anything in your yard like some residents have done for years. And the justification they gave there was that they felt like it was up to them to referee religious neutrality among their residents' decorations, which, of course, they have no business doing at all."
And as Gannam concludes, it is unconstitutional for them to single out Christmas decorations because they might offend another religion or because they might over-represent one religion as compared to another.