Heaven help them.
A Florida couple lost a years-long battle to place a miniature white cross on their front lawn after it was deemed a banned “lawn decoration” by a housing association, according to a report.
Wayne and Bonnie Anderson of Tamarind Grove in The Villages were originally ordered to remove the tiny symbol in 2019 after members of the community received an anonymous complaint, Villages News reported.
The couple, whose primary home is in Wisconsin, fought the ban for three years, claiming it violated their rights under the Florida Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
But Judge Michelle Morley recently ruled in favor of Local Community Development District 8 after the authority said local rules explicitly forbid “lawn ornaments.”
The Andersons, who were fined thousands of dollars for refusing to remove the cross, claim they were subject to “selective enforcement” and that other small lawns, including the crosses, were left untouched.
The couple pointed to a Florida law that prohibits any “substantial” impediment to the exercise of their religious beliefs.
But several boards and judges have concluded that removing the cross is not a “substantial” burden and that the ban on turf decoration in the area is a clear rule.
The religious battle has caused controversy in society: last year, the local church demonstratively handed out 200 crosses and asked parishioners to put them in the yards.
Anderson called the move to eradicate the symbol in 2020 “absurd”.
“We’re in a pandemic right now and The Villages is obsessed with ripping crosses out of our yards,” he said. “This is madness”.
The couple now have 30 days to contest the latest decision against them.
It was not possible to contact them for comment on the case.