Mark and Lynn Wivell were shocked when their homeowners’ association told them they had to take down a sign that said “Jesus” from their outdoor Christmas decorations. Wivell thought nothing of adding the sign when he put the decorations up on December 16, seeing as how the entire holiday is centered around the birth of Christ. What could be more natural than remembering the reason for the season when decorating your lawn? It would seem unthinkable that anyone would have a problem with that.

But of course, someone can always find a way to be offended.

The Wivells, who live in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, received an email shortly after placing the sign in the yard that told them it was “offensive” to decorate in this manner.

“We know that Christmas was about the birth of Jesus,” Wivell told USA Today. “I was quite shocked it offended somebody, but I guess in today’s world I shouldn’t have been.”

The HOA claimed that it was not the content of the sign that was the problem but rather the sign itself, which was in violation of the decoration rules of the neighborhood. That smacks of the kind of justification an HOA would use to avoid a lawsuit and, frankly, we don’t believe it for one second. If the Wivells had put up a sign saying “Merry Christmas” (or better yet, “Happy Holidays”), we sincerely doubt that anyone would have taken offense. We’re actually as surprised as Wivell that anyone could take offense to a sign saying “Jesus,” but like he said, today’s world…etc.

The Wivells have been told to remove the sign, but they say they’re planning to keep it up until mid-January when the HOA determined that all Christmas decorations must come down.

“I’m looking at this as a forum to promote what Christmas is all about,” said Wivell. “We wanted our neighbors to know how we feel. I don’t want this to be about me though. I want it to be about the birth of Jesus.”

Homeowners’ associations are known for their petty grievances and rules, and we suppose there’s nothing you can do once you’ve signed on to obey…but still. What a joke. “Jesus” is too offensive for a Christmas decoration? It’s getting pretty bad when that’s the case. We hope the Wivells hold strong and keep their Jesus sign up as long as is necessary to prove their point.