Christmas light controversy in Hayden - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Christmas light controversy in Hayden

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Photo courtesy: Jeremy Morris Photo courtesy: Jeremy Morris
HAYDEN, Idaho -

There's Christmas light controversy brewing in North Idaho. 

Every year, Jeremy Morris and his family put on a fundraiser that benefits two local charities. They show their elaborate Christmas decorations, including a camel and live nativity, invite carolers, and play music for crowds of people. 

But this year, he might be decorating in the dark. His homeowners association is saying "not so fast." The lawyer representing the West Hayden Estates Home Owner's Association says Jeremy Morris' display violates the "Special Event" provisions of Kootenai County Zoning Ordinance. The lawyer representing the home owner's association sold KHQ they're not trying to "cancel Christmas," and the letter has nothing to do with Morris' religion. That lawyer said in addition to violating the "Special Event" provisions, the livestock and crowds of people "will violate the recorded Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions for West Hayden Estates First Addition, and will constitute a public nuisance under Idaho statutes." 

Morris said this letter is violating his First Amendment right by stopping him from putting up the display, and vows to continue with his Christmas show. Furthermore, he says he'll take the case to federal court.

The neighborhood squabble is getting bigger than Hayden. Morris told KHQ he's been fielding non-stop phone calls from media and supporters. While KHQ was recording an interview with Morris, a First Amendment activist group showed up to his house. The lawyer representing the homeowner's association told KHQ that he has received death threats since the story gained attention nationally.

Morris told KHQ he wants to use this new found attention to spread this message to fellow Christians, "I'm asking folks, if you care about your faith, if you care about celebrating Christmas, and preserving our cultural heritage in our country, then maybe you should take a cross, put it in your front yard, light that cross, and say 'we are not afraid in this country to say we believe in Jesus Christ, and we will preserve our heritage in our country which includes First Amendment protection by the constitution which preserves all of our rights."

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