I realize there’s a pretty strong aversion to fundamentalist Christian orthodoxy around here, but surely no one can think this is a good idea….. Can they?
Chuck and Stephanie Fromm already have been fined $300 for holding Bible studies for their friends at their home, and they face the potential for additional fines of $500 for each study held, according to a legal team taking their case to court.The newest conflict over Bible studies in homes in America arose in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., where city officials say city code section 9-3.301 prohibits religious organizations in residential neighborhoods without a conditional-use permit, a sometimes very expensive procedure.
The code cites “churches, temples, synagogues, monasteries, religious retreats, and other places of religious worship and other fraternal and community service organizations.”
But a Bible study in a home?
That’s pretty much what I’m thinking. How on Earth can any city believe this intrusion not only into a citizen’s home, but into their religious practices as well, is constitutional? Do any Americans here believe it is?
“Imposing a heavy-handed permit requirement on a home Bible study is outrageous,” said Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, which is working on the case on behalf of the Fromms.
“In a city so rich with religious history and tradition, this is particularly egregious. 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. We cannot allow this to happen in America, and we will fight as long and as hard as it takes to restore this group’s religious freedom.”
Pacific Justice said it has represented larger churches that have been required to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars as part of the permit process on such items as engineering and traffic studies, architectural designs. The process includes public hearings and ultimately can result in a rejection by the city.
Catch that? Even if they jump through the city’s unconstitutional hoops, their application (and payment) for a permit can be rejected. Welcome to Amerika.
The organization points out that the city was founded as a Christian mission in the 1700s and is home to California’s oldest building still in use, a chapel where Father Junipero Serra celebrated mass.
Pacific Justice said it is appealing the city’s demands to California Superior Court in Orange County.
Well, let’s hope the Superior Court in Orange County has at least as much sense, and courage, as the Illinois judge who recently ruled that preventing citizens from recording cops doing their jobs was unconstitutional, though in this case, I have a hard time attributing courage to a judge who simply reads and understands English at a rudimentary level. To wit:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.