Pennsylvania Christmas Ban

York housing agency bans religious decorations from common areas

DAINA KLIMANIS The York Dispatch

In Christmases past, residents of Kingston House in West York hung a tree with stars and Santa Clauses and decorated a common room with puzzles showing Christ in a manger.

School groups and carolers came through the halls singing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and other popular Christian hymns.

But things are different this December. At Kingston House and other properties owned by the York Area Development Corp., songs or decorations in the common areas must be secular. The same policy applies to the hundreds of tenants in York City’s Delphia House and other apartments managed by the development corporation. No stars or angels, menorahs or references to Christ are allowed, unless residents want to decorate their own doors or apartments.

The development corporation is one of numerous organizations restricting religious displays for fear of excluding residents or violating fair housing laws administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which provides much of its funding.

Christmas bans in the Northeast are nothing new. For generations Christmas was outlawed in Massachusetts, for example, and those convicted of illegal decoration or celebration were subject to fines, banishment, jailing and worse. Of course, that was in the Colonial days, but some die hard. Political correctness is political correctness.