Beginning January 1, 2020, association cannot prohibit the display of religious items on entry doors and door frames. (Civ. Code §4706.) Associations can, however, impose restrictions if the display:
- Threatens the public health or safety.
- Hinders the opening or closing of any entry door.
- Violates any federal, state, or local law.
- Contains graphics, language or any display that is obscene or otherwise illegal.
- Individually or in combination with any other religious item displayed or affixed on any entry door or door frame that has a total size greater than 36 by 12 square inches, provided it does not exceed the size of the door.
Religious Item Defined. A “religious item” is defined to mean an item displayed because of sincerely held religious beliefs. (Civ. Code §1940.45.)
Mezuzah. The most common religious symbol on door frames is the Jewish mezuzah (Hebrew for doorpost). It is a small rectangular case (made out of metal, stone, wood, glass, or ceramics), which Jews attach to the doorpost of their homes. It is placed on the right side, upper third of the doorpost. This is usually done within 30 days of moving into a new home and signifies the sanctity and blessing of the Jewish home. The mezuzah contains a piece of parchment rolled into a scroll, which has a prayer in Hebrew, such as:
Deuteronomy, 6:4-9: Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your resources. And these things that I command you today shall be upon your heart. And you shall teach them to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you go on the way, when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your arm and they shall be an ornament between your eyes. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy, 11:13-21: And it will be that if you hearken to my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord, your God, and to serve him with all your hearts and all your souls. And I will place rain for your land in its proper time, the early and the late rains, that you may gather in your grain, your wine, and your oil. And I will provide grass in your field for your cattle, and you will eat and you will be satisfied. Watch yourselves, lest your heart be seduced and you turn astray and serve other gods, and prostrate yourselves to them. And the wrath of God will be upon you, and he will restrain the heaven and there will be no rain, and the ground will not yield its produce, and you will be lost quickly from upon the good land that God gives you. And you shall place these words of mine on your hearts and on your souls, and you shall bind them as a sign upon your arms and they shall be ornaments between your eyes. And you shall teach them to your children to discuss them, when you sit in your house and when you go on the way, and when you lie down and when rise up. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates, in order to prolong your days and the days of your children upon the good land that God swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of Heaven over earth.
Other Religious Items. Other religious items that qualify would be a Christian cross. Christmas wreaths, although seasonal, might qualify as well. It's unlikely Christmas lights would qualify.
Maintenance. If an association is performing maintenance, repair, or replacement of an entry door or door frame that serves a member’s separate interest, the member may be required to remove a religious item during the time the work is being performed. After completion of the association’s work, the member may again display or affix the religious item. The association shall provide individual notice to the member regarding the temporary removal of the religious item. (Civ. Code §4706(b).)
ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.