my landlord forced me to take down a religious symbol because another tenant complained that it offended him;?

My 11 year old son made a nice picture of a pentagram, symbolizing earth, air, fire, water, spirit. It was hanging on the inside of our apartment. He put it there to protect himself from negative energy of our mean, nasty, irrational, threatening, scary neighbor. This man swore up and down at me to take it down because he believes in God. I explained it wasn’t a satanic symbol, we also believe in a higher power. He called the usually reasonable landlord, and the landlord insisted that I take it down as the neighbor was offended by it. I explained the use of the symbol and my civil rights, that I find my neighbor to be offensive, the landlord still insisted I take it down as it’s bothering the neighbor. Not wanted to be evicted I did so. My son is very upset as am I. It is our constitutional right, it’s inside our apartment, we have it there for good reason, yet our residency in this building is being threatened should we not bow down and comply. As a single mom I feel I’m obviously being bullied into compliance by these men, allowing them to stomp on my civil rights. I know if they tried to evict and took me to court that they’d be in hot water messing with our civil rights. Not only that, we are part native american and like to decorate as such, and were making a protection amulet. I live in puritanistic conservative, ignorant New England, in NH. but their fear of things they don’t know about is not my problem. My son and my rights are being violated. In fear of losing our place we are forced to bow down. I can’t afford an attorney. Please advise.

Please only legal professions advise. Thank you
THE DECORATION IS A SUN-CATCHER HANGING IN THE WINDOW SORT OF LIKE STAINED GLASS. IT IS AS SMALL AS A TEA CUP PLATE AND VERY COLORFUL AND PRETTY. THANK YOU TO THE SERIOUS RATIONAL PEOPLE WHO ANSWERED, BY LEGAL PROFESSIONALS, I SHOULD HAVE SAID “THE PEOPLE INFORMED ON THIS SUBJECT”, AS SOME OF YOU ARE, AND I THANK YOU! I’D RATHER HAVE IT IN THE WINDOW THAT HE WALKS BY FOR THE PROTECTION, (MY SON WAS SLEEPING BETTER), AND BECAUSE IT BELONGS IN A WINDOW. YES I KNOW HE COULD TRY AND NOT RENEW MY LEASE, VERY GOOD POINT, YET THAT WOULD BE SOME LAW SUIT IF HE DID. I WELCOME MORE ADVICE, ADVISE, WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT.
P.S. THERE IS NO MORE TO THE STORY FOR YOU SKEPTICS. THE US CONSTITUTION IS FOR ALL OF THE US. THANK YOU INFORMED PEOPLE!

Posted in Landlord Tenant Law.

8 Comments

  1. How could you neighbor see the pentagram? Why don’t’ you simply place it where it isn’t visible to him?

    I suspect there is more to this story…

  2. How did your neighbor know about it if it was inside the apartment? Was it visible from the outside?

    You can absolutely take a stand on this – you have the right to display any religious symbol you wish. However, as a tenant and not the owner, you may be taking the right stand, but only to your detriment. This will be a lengthy and expensive stand. While I applaud your conviction, I must warn you that this may not be the right battle.

    Two thoughts – First, you may wish to chat with your local ACLU chapter. This is right up their alley. Again though, you landlord may not renew your lease and leave you with a hollow victory. Second – this is an excellent learning opportunity for your son. It’s an important life lesson to understand not only what his american rights are, but also how to weigh pros and cons of choosing battles.

  3. If it was inside your residence he cannot make you remove it. Put it back up if you want.

  4. 1. “please advise” is not a question. Are you asking for decorating advice?
    2. The constitution limits governments, not private landlords.
    3. There are some statutes that concern religious discrimination in housing, but the constitution does not.
    4. Figure out what you want to know and ask it.

  5. Sorry, but how many legal professionals are going to be surfing Yahoo Answers on a Tuesday morning?

    If it’s hanging inside your apartment, he shouldn’t be able to say anything. You could just as easily say that any crosses in his apartment offend you. And he can’t be that good a believer-in-God if he swore up and down at you.

    My advice is hang it on the inside of the door where he can’t see it, and check out New Hampshire Legal Aid. http://www.nhlegalaid.org/ Legal aid exists so people who can’t afford lawyers don’t get abused by those who can.

  6. How the hell can your neighbor see what you decide to put on the “INSIDE” of your apartment.?

    You did not do a good job trying to help us to make sense of this..

    Can’t give legal advice on info you provided.. You talked more about how you feel than anything concrete.

  7. first ask a male friend of yours to help you (guys generally get more intimidated by other guys), have a specific time that he will call the landlord while you are with him (the landlord), make a speech that sounds like what a lawer would say for your friend to read (like he is trampling on your civil rights and use a high vocabulary) also have him say that not only will you sue him for money but also get a protection agreement that he will not be able to kick you out(due to the landlord most likely holding resentment due to the trial), then have him say this is a textbook case that he never has lost and he will NOT bring him to court if he just lets you hang up the sign

  8. Religious belief (or lack thereof) is protected by the first amendment to the Constitution.

    As such, your landlord can’t make you take down any religious symbols that are on the inside of your apartment, even if they are visible from the outside.

    Your neighbor doesn’t have the right to not be offended.

    Put it back up if you’d like. A Pagan / Wiccan pentagram is legally the same as a Christian crucifix or a Jewish star.

    The only issue you may have is with your landlord and his ability to not renew your lease based on this issue. Of course, if he decides not to renew for this reason, you would have a very good lawsuit on your hands against him.

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