[Edited to add 11/14/2207: It has come to my attention that HUD claims there was no directive taking away the rights of an elderly woman to put an angel on her Christmas tree. I do not like to be duped so someone is not telling the truth. If this was a mistake, I hope AFA will come out and say so, considering it’s an ethical organization. If it was not, I hope they provide additional information to help the public see the truth. Following is an e-mail I received from Brian Sullvian firstname.lastname@example.org).
Good morning Sara,
I received an email from a citizen regarding some blog traffic on a story that has been circulating on the internet. It regards claims made by the American Family Association that some “HUD directive” was being cited as the reason a landlord in prohibited a senior citizen from placing an angel on her Christmas tree. I thought I would direct you to our response on the internet and assure you there is no such “directive,” law or rule that would (or should) restrict such religious symbolism during the holidays. I’m also attaching a letter our former Secretary wrote to public housing authorities across the country on this very point.
The American Family Association was in error. It appears that some overly aggressive manager at the assisted living facility did ask the angel be removed and cited a “HUD directive” that does not exist. Because it’s so difficult to prove a negative, you can imagine the reaction among folks who were outraged. But again…HUD would never discourage religious symbolism during the holidays. Unfortunately, the AFA continues to insist that its intervention forced the Department to relent. It’s sad really that an otherwise reputable organization would promote a falsehood when it knows better. We have communicated this error to them and attorneys for the property have also reinforced this. Still.
Have a very Merry Christmas and I hope our explanation finally puts an end to this myth.
[Eedited to add 11/13/2007: Thanks to your efforts, the Plant City Living Center recognized they were mistaken in not allowing residents to display Christian symbols. HUD says its policy is clear and that discrimination against Mrs. Arnold (and angels) will not be tolerated in HUD approved facilities.]
American Family Assocation Action Alert: The Plant City Living Center has told an 85-year-old grandmother in Florida that federal law prohibits her from displaying any religious words or items associated with Christmas in the common area of her apartment building.According to the Center, The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a directive banning “any religious symbols or religious words associated with Christmas.” Under the guidelines issued by HUD, the elderly grandmother cannot place a small Christmas tree outside her door (because that area is a “commons area”) if it contains any religious symbols or religious words, even an angel!If the residents want to have a Christmas party in their Community room, they cannot call it a Christmas party. The Center says HUD directs residents not to use the word “Christmas” but to use the word “Holiday.” A Sunday School class from a church near the apartment complex comes every year to host a Hanging of the Greens and Christmas Party for all the residents. The highlight of their Christmas Party comes at the very end of The Hanging of the Greens when someone places the angel on top of their Christmas tree. But their tradition is now banned by the federal government. The federal government is becoming increasingly active in banning Christianity from the public square. Earlier, the National Park Service removed the wording “Laus Deo” (Latin for “Praise be to God”) from a replica of the cap of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. and the Veterans Administration banned the script of the flag-folding ceremony mentioning “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” and “Father, Son and Holy Ghost” at more than 100 national cemeteries. Both of these were rescinded after AFA supporters sent emails to proper authorities.Read the memo about the HUD directive. Then, send an e-mail to the secretary of HUD and President Bush asking that HUD stop its policy. The role of the federal government is to defend our religious rights, not take them away.