Heaven help them.
A Florida couple has lost their multi-year fight to place a miniature white cross on their front lawn after a housing association deemed it a prohibited “lawn ornament,” according to a report.
Wayne and Bonnie Anderson, of Tamarind Grove in The Villages, were initially ordered to remove the tiny symbol in 2019 after community officials received an anonymous compla int, Villages News reported.
The couple, whose primary home is in Wisconsin, have fought the prohibition for three years, arguing that it violates their rights under the Florida Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
But Judge Michelle Morley recently ruled in favor of the local Community Development District 8 after the body argued that local rules explicitly prohibit “lawn ornaments.”
The Andersons, who’ve been ticketed for thousands of dollars in violations for their refusal to remove the cross, assert that they’ve been targeted for “selective enforcement” and that other small lawn displays — including crosses — are left undisturbed.
The couple pointed to a Florida law that bars any “substantial” impediment to the exercising of one’s religious beliefs.
But several boards and judges have found that the removal of the cross does not qualify as a “substantial” burden and that the area’s lawn ornament ban is a clear rule.
The religiously-charged battle has become a divisive community issue, with a local church defiantly passing out 200 crosses last year and asking parishioners to place them in their yards.
Anderson called the push to uproot the symbol “absurd” in 2020.
“We’ve got a pandemic going on and The Villages is obsessed with ripping crosses out of our yards,” he said. “This is insanity.”
The couple now has 30 days to challenge the most recent ruling against them.
They couldn’t be immediately reached for comment on the case.