EVANS, Ga. (WJBF) — “Faith Over Fear Crosses” are supposed to bring people joy during this pandemic. One Columbia County HOA is making residents take them down.
“We don’t feel that anybody has the right, whether its a covenant or anything else to tell us we don’t have constitutional rights to have freedom of religion,” said Ken Johnson.
It’s a movement to unite the nation amidst the pandemic. You’ve probably seen the crosses in your neighborhood and others. NewsChannel 6 reporter Devin Johnson talked to several residents who live in Riverwood Plantation. Some of them are not happy with the HOA telling them they have to remove the crosses.
“I have free speech,” expressed Johnson. “I can go on the front lawn right now and say I believe in Jesus Christ, and nobody can stop me because that is freedom of religion and freedom of speech.”
Devin also called Riverwood’s HOA. A spokesperson told him the decision is not religious-based. Ken Johnson says the HOA’s by-laws only cover the things we don’t have the constitutional right to have or do.
“They can’t abridge that by any circumstances,” explained Johnson. “Whether they want to call it a covenant, condition, or whatever, no matter if they set a date.”
Riverwood Plantation HOA’s landscape, yard, and lawn care maintenance guidelines state: Riverwood may request the immediate removal of any sign or object which has not been approved by the board. The HOA reserves all rights to make that judgment and may take action without the liability for trespassing or other liability connected with removing items.
“If they think they do, then they are wrong,” said Johnson. “Otherwise, what would my rights be? They would be controlled by someone else. It’s not like I have a basketball court or something that’s not in the constitution, I wouldn’t have the right to have one. I do have the right to have a wreath, a Christmas tree, or show my religion.”
Riverwood announced the crosses could stay until the Governor’s Public Health State of Emergency ends, which was slated June 12th. Now, The State of Emergency is extended to July 12th.
Photojournalist: Gary Hipps