Host a Home Bible Study, Get Fined $500

bible-study.jpg
Hide yo' crosses, hide yo' Bibles?  

A San Juan Capistrano couple has been ordered by the city to stop hosting a weekly Bible study unless they obtain the permit required for churches. 

Homeowners Chuck and Stephanie Fromm have already been fined $300 for their gatherings, and city officials said that future meetings would be subject to a $500 fine per event.

According to The Capistrano Dispatch, the citations say they violated section 9-3.301 of the Capistrano Municipal Code, which prohibits "religious, fraternal or non-profit" organizations in residential neighborhoods without a conditional-use permit.

The Fromm's Wednesday Bible study draws about 20 people, and their Sunday-morning gatherings draw as many as 50, the Dispatch reports.

City spokeswoman Cathy Salcedo told the Los Angeles Times in an email that San Juan Capistrano does not prohibit home Bible studies, and that the case is about "street access and parking."

The city rejected Fromm's appeal of the fine, so the couple is now taking the issue to Orange County Superior Court. Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) will represent them.  

Writes PJI:

There was no noise beyond normal conversation and quiet music on the home stereo system. They met inside their family room and patio area. Many neighbors have written letters of support, denying they were disturbed by the presence of the Bible study. The group is not affiliated with any particular church, nor is it seeking to establish a church in the home.
In a statement, PJI president Brad Dacus added, "An informal gathering in a home cannot be treated with suspicion by the government, or worse than any other gathering of friends, just because it is religious."
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22 comments
Gary Myers1
Gary Myers1

And if my wife hosted a tupperware party would I be subjected to the same fines?

bns
bns

All you Bloggers that are sending in your comment regarding this obedient couple working to do the will of our Father, his prophecy is coming to pass dispite the law of the land, and it will continue even in your own town.  Are YOU prepared?  What will you do about it?  As far as the east is from the west, we all have our part to do in this, and it came from the greatest teacher, draw nigh to him today and pray much for each other.  God Bless you!

Janet Breaux
Janet Breaux

If they can't hold bible study in their home, because of to many people, without a permit, can any one in Orange County have a family reunion, party, wedding or any business gathering with 50+ people?  They should be threatened too with fines.

Jack Grimshaw
Jack Grimshaw

Gotta be the biggest fiction discussion group in South County ...

The Tech Team
The Tech Team

Just get the permit good grief. I wouldn't want 50 supermodels parking on my street twice a week.

mitch young
mitch young

Anyone notice there are a lot of really really religious people down in South OC? It's crazy, their kids have this sort of alternative world where they listen to X-ian ballads, X-ian rap, X-ian metal. I mean, that's been going on forever (for those of us old enough to remember Stryper), but when I was a kid, the whole genre was a joke. These kids are serious about it now.

Drewogatory
Drewogatory

On my fairly long block I count 15 cars parked on the street this morning. So, yeah, I'd be pretty annoyed at an extra 50 cars every weekend. If I had a neighbor who routinely had 50 freaking people over for "beers and bbq" I'd be pissed off at that as well and probably calling the cops myself.

Radioflyer68
Radioflyer68

Call it a kegger party and they wouldn't get any grief.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

Whats the difference, people having bible studies several times a week or people that cannot afford the homes they live in renting 3 rooms and taking many parking places on a street? another option is what several other communities do, issue residential parking permits. Why can't this group have their bible studies at several members homes? Rotate the locations.

Pat
Pat

http://www.snopes.com/politics... Nothing new here. I remembered this case from SD country a few years back but didn't expect that people made a big enough deal for snopes to investigate.

Home churchs are the big movement right now. It's a reaction against megachurches. People prefer to refer to them as "home bible studies" in an effort to designate the service as more intimate. It'll only be a problem in communities if the pastor/leader doesn't inform neighbors and figure out logistics such as parking ahead of time. Since that's the original intent of conditional use permits, to make sure logistics are feasible, either apply for one or do a little pre-planning Be a good community member. One other problem with home-based churches does come up when people are passing the donation plate around their "friends," asking for money. How much overhead does a bible study actually need?

Orange resident
Orange resident

There is a time and a place for everything.  Wouldn't one think holding large gatherings in a residential neighborhood violates the peace of everyone else?    I would not do such a thing in my neighborhood whether it be for religion or business. 

I would have to back SJC on this one.

RandomGal2011
RandomGal2011

Why do you need a permit?  Because it takes up parking spaces? I think that's only fair if you have a whole group. I was about to say they can't do that until I read the rest of the article and the one comment I saw.

Acesarewild4ya
Acesarewild4ya

please this is just pointless, if the issue is street access then have the cops ticket anyone that is blocking access to the street or a driveway. If the issue is parking then cry me a river it is public parking on a public street it isnt like they are parking in peoples driveway.

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

PJI cracks me up.  The issue is "street access and parking", not noise, not music, not bibles.

If 50 people (including Jesus) parked on my street on Sundays, I'd complain too. 

OChomie
OChomie

Do you know how much the permit costs? It can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. They would have to make their home accessible to the handicapped. 50 people adds up to about 15 cars. Their street has no homes on one side. 

mitch young
mitch young

If they were having it every Saturday -- or whatever -- they probably would.

Jeff Gallagher
Jeff Gallagher

Large Gathering??? I have more friends come over for BBQ and beer than these folks have for Bible study. Get serious. This is nanny state government at its finest.

VatoLoco
VatoLoco

well it doesn't block the street in any way....

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

But if it's a public street those folks are perfectly within their rights to park there. I know I get annoyed when I drive in my friend's neighborhood and see a traffic cone or other object in a parking space put there by someone who thinks they have the right to "reserve' parking on a public street. However, blocking driveways or alleys is another matter...tow those jerks!

Sally
Sally

from another article I found on line: The Fromm family, however, is incredulous at the suggestion that its Bible studies restrict parking or street access to other residents, or cause any other kind of nuisance to them. Their 4,700-square-foot home sits on a super-sized lot with a corral, barn, pool, and six acres of open land between the Fromm house and its nearest neighboring house, more than enough to accomodate parking without blocking the street.

Bill T.
Bill T.

I find myself in the curious position of disagreeing somewhat with you and more in agreement with 20 ft on this one. I've found myself agreeing more with his comments lately. "This worries me."

My take is that you can't forbid one group from tying up the parking but allow another.

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

"My take is that you can't forbid one group from tying up the parking but allow another."

You summed it up very well. And don't worry...I, too, think "20ft" hits the nail on the head sometimes. (eeek!)  :-D

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