City Demands Christians Buy Permit For Home Bible Study

 

Already fined $300, facing potential penalty of $500 per meeting

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.

CC

 

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  1. Seattle Outcast

    on the face of it, it’s just stupid, petty, and vindictive. Oh, and an obvious attempt at revenue generation.

    On the other hand, if you want to convert your home into a church and clog the streets with parked cars coming to your home because you’re too stupid to operate out of a properly zoned location, then fuck you…

    Thumb up 1

  2. CM

    This is clearly a town planning matter, not an issue over the freedom to exercise religion. At some point activities can start to adversely affect neighbours etc. It’s a matter of having a system which identifies at which point a consent application is required so it can be assessed.

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  3. Mook

    It’s a safe bet that identical size PETA or Gay Pride meetings held in that neighborhood on a regular basis wouldn’t have created such a stir among govt. permitting officials.

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  4. JimK

    Let’s remove the religion altogether. Why? Because it doesn’t fucking matter.

    Let’s say that I decide to hold a weekly party. Karaoke. In my living room, on the Xbox. Quietly, though. No noise ordinances broken. But 10, 20, even 30 people drive various conveyances to my privately owned home, where we have a quiet karaoke party that is not for profit.

    Would it be okay for the government to shut it down or fine us? How the flying fuck is this anyone’s business at all? If there is legal, public parking on the street, anyone can use it. If the cars block your drive, have them towed. If you don’t like it, do what one neighborhood around here did: they petitioned to require residential parking permits to use certain spots. 70% of the parking is reserved for residents.

    This story chaps my ass.

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  5. CzarChasm *

    Nope, not even close. From the link:

    A report from the city’s Dispatch newspaper said that Fromm, publisher of Worship Leader Magazine, wanted to hold Bible studies on Wednesdays that drew some 20 people, while similar studies on Sundays attracted up to 50 to their acreage that includes their home, a corral, a barn, a pool and a huge back yard

    Even 50 people can fit their vehicles on a couple of acres without any trouble, and that assumes 50 cars, which I think is a pretty wild assumption at best. 50 people max would never bring more than 25 to 30 vehicles into a “neighborhood,” but neighborhoods comprised of multiple-acre properties is really no neighborhood at all, but rather, a rural area that apparently just falls within Capistrano’s city limits.

    And Jim and Mook hit the nail on the head anyway. Even in a crowded neighborhood, this wouldn’t be an issue if it was a group of gays, or environmentalists, or just a bunch of college kids throwing a frat-party every week. For San Juan Capistrano to even regulate anything having to do with the free exercise of religion at a private residence is unconstitutional on its face.

    By the way, this is exactly why I phrased my main question as I did:

    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?

    Your reply was neither sought nor credible based on having no clue about constitutional issues. I don’t mean that as a personal jab, it’s just the way it is.

    CC

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  6. Seattle Outcast

    50 people showing up is no longer “home bible study”, it’s church. The argument that they have crossed the line is quite easy to make.

    If 25 cars showed up in my neighborhood I’d be calling the tow trucks and the HOA president.

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  7. CzarChasm *

    If you have the authority to order towing in your neighborhood based solely on the number of people congregating at one location, more power to you, go for it. If the Fromm’s property is subject to HOA rules that they signed onto when they bought the property, then sure, the HOA rules would control. But the City has nothing to do with either of those circumstances, and the 1st Amendment precludes the imposition of such rules by any government entity, unless, of course, you can find the wiggle room in the phrase, “…shall make no law….prohibiting the free exercise thereof” that would serve as a basis for government regulation of the free exercise of religious learning/teaching/gatherings at a private residence.

    I would imagine that, unless you had a city ordinance to back you up, as unconstitutional as I believe it would be, or the authority by your HOA to order towing, it would be the tow truck driver saying F you to you, instead of you saying it with any effect to your neighbors for simply having friends over to visit and (GASP!!!) pray together once or twice a week.

    Also, the claim of 50 people there was the extreme high ended estimate. Would the 10 cars that bring the maybe 20 people also mentioned be too many in your neighborhood? What if you were the only one of your other neighbors who had a problem with the traffic? Would it still be a hearty F-you to the fundies down the street? If 10 cars is too many, how many would you deem acceptable for your neighbors to invite to their acreage? Of course, I’m asking these questions under the assumption that the Fromm’s aren’t limited to a specific number of visitors by an HOA, which if they were, I would have no problem with the neighbors seeking to enforce the rules that they all agreed to for the express purpose of avoiding these kinds of conflicts between neighbors. But without such a covenant in force, and some nosy neighbor counting cars on my acreage, I’d have to tell them in the most friendly, polite, neighborly and Christian way I could muster to butt the Hell out and mind your own damned business. But then, I’m not a Christian, so I wouldn’t be limited to going so easy on the nosy neighbor.

    It really amazes me how irrational people get about religious folk. I somehow kind of doubt that they’re speeding up and down the street when they come and go, doing burn-outs and chirping their tires as they slam through the gears. I doubt there’s any loud Gospel music blaring out of their car stereos. I doubt any are driving drunk or strung out on coke or heroin. I mean, I guess those group prayers could get pretty out of hand for all of one second with 50 people all saying in unison, “Amen.” Or, God forbid, they sing a hymn or two during one of their meetings.

    Sorry, I can’t think of a single rational reason for a neighbor to give a second thought about this, though that wasn’t the point of my original posting. I was much more interested in talking about the constitutional issue. It just didn’t occur to me that the neighbor “issue” was anything more than pettiness and trivialities.

    CC

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  8. HARLEY

    This kinda of reminds me of another issue, with Shooting Ranges who once were out in the sticks ,but thanks to urban sprawl “development” are now surrounded by homes. There been several cases out east, where such ranges are either forced to close down, or been sued for noise violations.
    The HOA’s that surround these places have been very addiment they the ranges go.

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  9. blameme

    Bullshit. You do not get to define what “church” is. Unless they have programs, take offerings, file for tax free status, then they are just a group of people exercising their freedom of religion and freedom to assemble.

    You really take the cake SO. You want to be such a libertarian, but then you want to curtail religion as you seem to be a big damn baby about people who may think differently than you and because of one or two alleged bad incidents, you want to claim all Christians as evil.

    You are such a big baby. Seriously. If the government regulates this, do you think they will stop at that? How about gun owners getting together. Or atheists?

    Until your fear of religion subsides (maybe you should see a therapist) you shouldn’t discuss matters of constitutionality and religion as your trembling and cowardice comes out rather embarrassingly.

    Probably 20% of my close friends are atheists. We have no problem discussing these things. But you man, are so scared that you let it seep into every discussion – this is ABOUT FREEDOM. Think about that, if you can Mr. Badass.

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  10. Poosh

    As a former undergrad, I can’t have a weekly party? And that that weekly party “is a club”? And needs a permit, I assume.

    Or a weekly BBQ, is now a restaurant?

    If these were Muslims, 100% nothing would be directed against them.

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  11. Biggie G

    CC

    The problem with the story that you linked to is that it is intentionally very vague and coming from a site like WND who is very Sympathetic to the Fromms, that makes me think. The author left a lot out and we are left to make a lot of assumptions. Since it is not stated in the story, I get the feeling that there is a lot of overflow off the Fromm’s “acreage.” If this was all contained on the property with no adverse effects on the neighborhood, the story would have mentioned it.

    If this was my neighborhood, I might get a little annoyed as well. It has nothing to do with the religious aspect. 20 people once a week on a weekday night and 50 people every Sunday is excessive if the traffic and parking cannot be contained on one property.

    This doesn’t sound like it was a one time thing and people complained. It sounds like it has been going on for a while. As long as the guests were polite and it didn’t get too loud too late, most people should be good with a neighbor having the occasional gathering, but that many people on a regular basis starts to affect my use of my property and the public streets even if they never actually enter my property.

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  12. Seattle Outcast

    Even small to moderate sized parties in my development clog the street and frequently block driveways. Putting 25+ vehicles parked on the road is going to be hell. Let that happen several times per week, and the person running “bible study” out their home will be hated by everyone.

    As to why the religious element is so important, I’d say it’s because of 1) despite all claims to the contrary, it’s a business, and running a business out of a residential area is generally illegal, and 2) the people that attend these things are typically inconsiderate assholes (same people that door knock) that will be entirely unreasonable about parking and not blocking your driveway 3 times a week for 4 hours

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  13. Seattle Outcast

    You do not get to define what “church” is

    Sure I do. It’s the old “reasonable person” argument. They gather in large numbers regularly to discuss their version of “god”. That’s pretty much the definition of a church.

    Unless they have programs, take offerings, file for tax free status, then they are just a group of people exercising their freedom of religion and freedom to assemble.

    Those are pretty much just formalities and function of some churches you happen to be familiar with.

    you want to curtail religion as you seem to be a big damn baby about people who may think differently than you and because of one or two alleged bad incidents, you want to claim all Christians as evil.

    Alleged? Go fuck yourself.

    As for being evil, I judge them by their actions, not words. Assholes for certain. Evil for many. Maybe YOU should see a therapist – you’re something of a complete douchebag.

    you shouldn’t discuss matters of constitutionality and religion as your trembling and cowardice comes out rather embarrassingly.

    I wasn’t discussing that at all, you moron (please go back an reread my posts). I was discussing what I would do if my neighborhood suddenly had an extra 25 cars parked in it on a regular basis. I wouldn’t give a shit if it was Amway, church, or a poker game.

    And as for embarrassing, you should read your own vile, hate-filled post. Of course, you’re a christian, so I expect that out of you.

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  14. Seattle Outcast

    You are, I suspect, correct. People would be too scared of being labeled and/or targeted.

    On the other hand, muslims appear to prefer to building their own mosque and going out of their way to keep everything legal. I’ve never heard of muslim “home koran study group”…

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  15. Seattle Outcast

    That is exactly what happened to at least two gun ranges here in the north end of the Seattle area.

    One was an indoor range, and they got property taxed out of existence, and the outdoor range had a variety of specious lawsuits filed against it and then the local media starting a campaign against it.

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  16. JimK

    Look, if the cars are legally parked, and there is no money changing hands for these meetings in a residential home, then no one, no matter how annoyed they are, has any god-damned business worrying about what the meetings are about. If the cars are illegally parked, WE ALREADY HAVE LAWS FOR THAT. Call the police and have them towed. If they are not breaking the law, but you just don’t like it? Tough fucking shit.

    No one who advocates the government being involved with these people over *parking* can call themselves libertarian (or libertarian-esque) on any level. You are authoritarian, plain and simple. If that’s what you are, cool, but own it and admit it.

    To a libertarian, the right to swing their own arms also ends at the other guy’s nose. It’s a two way street, if you’ll pardon the half-pun.

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  17. CzarChasm *

    Since it is not stated in the story, I get the feeling that there is a lot of overflow off the Fromm’s “acreage.” If this was all contained on the property with no adverse effects on the neighborhood, the story would have mentioned it.

    I really can’t believe we’re talking about potential parking violations, which as you say, have to be assumed, instead of expressing the well-deserved…..ahem…..righteous indignation that should be being directed at the City of San Juan Capistrano over the very clear and unambiguous constitutional issues raised by the story. But OK, that’s the depth I chose to wade into when I accepted Jim’s offer to author, so I’ll play in the kiddie pool some more, as well as try to coax some of y’all into the deep end.

    As Jim correctly pointed out, if there’s parking violations occurring at the Fromm’s property, the City has every right, even the responsibility, to tow the vehicles, period. Bible study has absolutely nothing to do with that circumstance though, and trying to force private citizens to pay exorbitant (or even cheap) *protection money* to the City so they can continue to exercise their 1st Amendment rights on their own private property without being harassed until the next annual license fee comes due cannot, without completely bastardizing the 1st Amendment into something totally unrecognizable, be constitutional. If it’s a parking problem, send in the tow trucks. If it’s a noise problem, cite the offenders, whether it’s the Fromms or their guests, and make them pay increasing fines for each new violation. Once the City even mentions the religious aspect of their gatherings as a basis for the fines though, they have crossed the line. This is middle school American government type of stuff here. I’m completely baffled at being one of only a couple or three Americans who apparently have any understanding whatsoever what the words “make no law” and “or prohibit the free exercise thereof” even mean, and that’s before even considering property rights or freedom of assembly rights. Baffling indeed.

    CC

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  18. CM

    Funnily enough I’ve been working on this EXACT issue recently Harley. I’ve been representing an established gun club which now has ‘neighbours’. They operated under a previous consent but a neighbour has done some investigating and discovered that the gun club only had planning consent to operate up to a certain point. The popularity of the club has grown and they exceeded their limits years ago. Unless someone complains, these things often don’t get discovered. So the neighbour alerted the Council, who told the gun club that they need to get a new consent.
    I got the club the new consent in the end.
    These are all planning related matters. There is certainly a recognised grey area (in the profession) in terms of how to differentiate between, for example, informal weekly parties and formal weekly events.

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  19. CM

    It really amazes me how irrational people get about religious folk.

    Where is the evidence that this is about religion per se? The only people who seem to be making it about religion (or parking violations for some reason) are those on the receiving end. As the story says, “city code section 9-3.301 prohibits religious organizations in residential neighborhoods without a conditional-use permit”. Such a permit would be required for a wide range of non-residential activities which have the potential to adversely affect neighbours. As each activity is likely to have different effects, there’s likely to be different assessment criteria that apply to each one. Same system applies everywhere in the Western world.

    Sure you can argue that city planning is anti-constitutional. But that’s different from arguing that the City is anti-religious.

    EDIT: If they can demonstrate that what they are doing won’t have adverse effects on their neighbours (parking and noise), there is no reason why it should be expensive or any sort of a drama. However if they can’t demonstrate that, they’ll need to do some work and spend some money. Or do it some place else.

    The ‘story’ is a classic beat-up based on wilful ignorance. If they want to make an argument that town planning rules are all unconstitutional, fine, but that’s not what they’re doing at all.

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  20. CM

    BTW the relevant ordinance can be found here:
    http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientID=16607&stateID=5&statename=California
    On left hand side click on ‘TITLE 9 – LAND USE’.
    Then in the middle click on ‘CHAPTER 3 – ZONING DISTRICTS AND STANDARDS’.
    And then on ‘Article 3. – Base District Regulations/Standards’
    It’s the first one on that page – 9-3.301
    You can clearly see the table of activities if you scroll down a little. As outlined, there are all manner of activities. Nothing special about religious activities. Or the method of regulating land use.

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  21. blameme

    Awwww. Wittle athiest gets his wittle feelings hurt with “alleged.” Well, if you can show supporting information of these militant Christians who invaded your home, please do. Otherwise, go fuck YOURself.

    Also, I love getting you upset. It must be a sin cause it feels soooooo good.

    I will be praying for you SO and there is nothing you can do about it!!!. HAHA!!

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  22. blameme

    As Jim says, you are authoritarian. This, plus wanting to euthanize people with Down’s Syndrome should pretty much make all your “libertarian” claims null and void.

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  23. CzarChasm *

    Well, your Google foo is impressive, but you definitely need some work on word searches within a page. Go back to the link you just directed us to and search on the word “religious.” Just like the article says, the City is defining groups of friends of a private property owner as a “religious organization” per the definitions at the bottom of the page, but which you obviously failed to consult and/or consider when you say there’s “nothing special about religious activities.” The problem isn’t that the City has zoning regulations for a synagogue, mosque, church or whatever, it’s that they’re trying to lump a group of private citizens who meet at a private residence in with synagogues, mosques and churches while they receive none of the legal benefits of being a religious organization, such as tax-exempt status for instance.

    Seattle Outcast boldly proclaimed that these meetings *are* a business enterprise. If that were so, and it were shown to a degree of high probability, I would soften my stance on the government inserting itself in the gatherings from strictly a zoning perspective, but I find that claim highly dubious. Not as dubious as the claim that friends meeting at another friend’s home for Bible study sans any such showing, automatically places that residence under the authority of the same religious organizations zoning regs as the physical location of a synagogue, mosque or church though.

    As such, this is clearly an attempt by the City to regulate the worship practices of private citizens on private property. That is unconstitutional. No matter how many times someone repeats that they’d be bugged if 50 people were coming to their neighborhood twice a week to visit one of their neighbors, that doesn’t come close to overcoming the clear and unambiguous 1st Amendment violations committed against the Fromms by the City of San Juan Capistrano in this story. But one would have to have a much more intimate knowledge of our Constitution than the overwhelming majority of foreigners possess to understand the difference in America between zoning code enforcement and individual, unalienable, constitutional rights, which, again, is why I asked Americans what they were thinking about it.

    CC

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  24. Seattle Outcast

    Awwww. Wittle athiest gets his wittle feelings hurt with “alleged.” Well, if you can show supporting information of these militant Christians who invaded your home, please do. Otherwise, go fuck YOURself.

    Also, I love getting you upset. It must be a sin cause it feels soooooo good.

    I will be praying for you SO and there is nothing you can do about it!!!. HAHA!!

    How do I know I have an IQ double yours?

    I’m not upset, I’m merely pointing out what a juvenile little prick you are. Go ahead and pray, I’ll take a dump later that will be smarter than you are.

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  25. CM

    Well, your Google foo is impressive,

    Well thanks, but part of my job involves looking at stuff like this on a daily basis, including searching for provisions online where we don’t have hard copies in the office.So I generally know my way around a local authority website, even a foreign one.

    but you definitely need some work on word searches within a page. Go back to the link you just directed us to and search on the word “religious.”

    I did exactly that, to ensure there wasn’t anything else relevant that I was missing. Again, standard practice (and in fact even when we have hard copies I generally use online versions because of the ability to search and find things more quickly).

    Just like the article says, the City is defining groups of friends of a private property owner as a “religious organization” per the definitions at the bottom of the page, but which you obviously failed to consult and/or consider when you say there’s “nothing special about religious activities.”

    Not sure what the “bottom of the page” reference relates to? Councils generally try to come up with a table which covers all uses/activities, and provide some guidance about what their definitions include. In this case “Religious, fraternal, or nonprofit organizations (nonprofit)” “Includes churches, temples, synagogues, monasteries, religious retreats, and other places of religious worship and other fraternal and community service organizations”.
    Clearly this place is being used as a place of religious worship.

    The problem isn’t that the City has zoning regulations for a synagogue, mosque, church or whatever, it’s that they’re trying to lump a group of private citizens who meet at a private residence in with synagogues, mosques and churches while they receive none of the legal benefits of being a religious organization, such as tax-exempt status for instance.

    This is the crux of a matter. When does it become a problem? There needs to be some trigger point when the Council become involved. In this case the ordinance is triggered by a complaint, and a neighbour has complained (Capistrano’s code-enforcement department is reactive, meaning officers only respond to complaints). So the Council are required to investigate and make a determination in terms of whether there is a breach of any of the relevant codes). Nothing to do with religion.

    In this case they’ve found that at least twice a week a load of people (20 midweek and up to 50 in the weekend) are meeting for religious purposes. It would be pretty hard to argue that it doesn’t meet the definition. That’s more than a simple at home Bible study. The guy publishes a religious magazine (which by itself probably means nothing especially if none of this is done at the residence, but does assist in providing some context – he’s not just a regular Joe Blow having some friends over regularly to read the bible). And in terms of actual effects, it probably doesn’t help that they live at the end of a cul-de-sac (click on Satellite and their place is obvious as it has a pool), so all vehicles have only one way in and one way out, so they travel past all the neighbours twice for each event. They’ve been warned since May and have choosen to do nothing. They haven’t been asked to stop entirely, just that they need to apply for the required consent (which anyone else would need). If the Fromms are bringing in an extra 70 people each week, let’s say an extra 35-40 cars, then they have definitely violated the privacy of that neighborhood. People spend a considerable amount of money on property and to live in areas such as this. They buy knowing what the rules are (or they should know) and what sorts of things they can expect to occur, and not to occur, next door. The neighbours in this situation would have an expectation that by living there they would be protected against the traffic situation.

    Not as dubious as the claim that friends meeting at another friend’s home for Bible study sans any such showing, automatically places that residence under the authority of the same religious organizations zoning regs as the physical location of a synagogue, mosque or church though.

    Well that’s an argument to get into with the Council. Hire a planner to do so and let them hash it out. If it can be demonstrated that it doesn’t meet the definition (because it’s “friends meeting at another friend’s home for Bible study”) then the Council should accept that. But the numbers tell a different story.This is at a scale beyond friends meeting for Bible study.
    What I’ve found over the last few years is that Places of Assembly (our local planning definition) can occur in the unlikeliest of places. I’ve recently represented a fundamental church group in getting consent to operate in an office building at the back of an industrial park and right next to residential dwellings. I managed to navigate my way through all the red tape and got them the planning consent without needing to go to the neighbours to get their approval (I’m not boasting, just making an additional point that it’s possible to not spend a fortune and years). I’ve also assisted a group set up a Sikh Temple in an industrial building. So these things happen anywhere these days.

    As such, this is clearly an attempt by the City to regulate the worship practices of private citizens on private property. That is unconstitutional.

    Where has it been shown that they would treat any other activity , which attracted as much traffic etc, any differently? You need to demonstrate that before you can say that this religion has any bearing on this whatsoever. That’s why, in the absence of such a demonstration, I say this is really an issue about whether planning controls are unconstitutional. Which is certainly a legitimate issue I’m sure.

    But one would have to have a much more intimate knowledge of our Constitution than the overwhelming majority of foreigners possess to understand the difference in America between zoning code enforcement and individual, unalienable, constitutional rights, which, again, is why I asked Americans what they were thinking about it.

    I don’t have to have ANY knowledge of the US Constitution to make the points I have (from a position of some knowledge about my profession). Your issues aren’t about a particular City Council trying to stop religious worship, they’re about any government authority being able to dictate what any people can do on their own land. But if you want to keep ignoring that so you can keep telling me I don’t understand because I’m not a Consitutional expert, fine.

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  26. CzarChasm *

    Not sure what the “bottom of the page” reference relates to?

    When you get to the page your instructions end at, they direct the reader thusly for “notes:”

    Table 3-1
    Uses in Residential Districts
    (please refer to end of table for notes)

    “Bottom of page” and “end of table” are/were synonymous to my way of thinking, that’s all.

    Nothing to do with religion.

    And then the very next sentence of the next paragraph says:

    In this case they’ve found that at least twice a week a load of people (20 midweek and up to 50 in the weekend) are meeting for religious purposes.

    Double-speak much?

    That’s more than a simple at home Bible study…
    The guy publishes a religious magazine (which by itself probably means nothing especially if none of this is done at the residence, but does assist in providing some context – he’s not just a regular Joe Blow having some friends over regularly to read the bible).

    See, this is one of the problems with your lack of constitutional understanding. The government doesn’t get to scrutinize and micromanage every little aspect of an individual’s or family’s religious practices. The fact that he publishes a religious magazine is MORE evidence that the government has no business in this, not less. And 50 seems a rather small number of friends of a religious person who presumably attends church, does missionary work, or any number of other religious activities which would put the Fromms in contact with hundreds of like-minded people who might enjoy partaking in the their hospitality from time to time. I seriously doubt if the ones who show up for their Bible study sessions are the same ones every time. In any case, the government has no business whatsoever taking into consideration how many like-minded friends they have at their home to exercise their religious freedom rights.

    Where has it been shown that they would treat any other activity , which attracted as much traffic etc, any differently?

    Very few other activities are specifically protected by a constitutional amendment, so the point of your question is moot. As soon as a government entity starts regulating religious activity, the burden of showing a compelling government interest in regulating it in any capacity increases exponentially, and parking and noise violations that may push up against some city ordinance hardly crosses the threshold set by a specified constitutional right. The individual’s rights to freely exercise their religion is far superior in this country to a local jurisdiction’s wish, or even need, to control parking, traffic and/or noise. That’s just as true in a cul-de-sac as it is on a main thoroughfare with tons of public parking available.

    I don’t have to have ANY knowledge of the US Constitution to make the points I have (from a position of some knowledge about my profession).

    Your professional experience was gathered without a legal requirement that you abide by a Constitution such as ours, so this statement is just wrong.

    Your issues aren’t about a particular City Council trying to stop religious worship, they’re about any government authority being able to dictate what any people can do on their own land.

    I’ll grant that the word “dictate” as regards our system of government is one which would strike many Americans as anathema to their understanding of how our system is supposed to work, but let’s focus instead on what’s missing from this statement, rather than the (intentionally?) hyperbolic choice of words you used. If you stated it thusly, “…they’re about any government authority being able to dictate what any people can do on their own land concerning the protected right of free exercise of religion, then you would be stating what “my issues” are accurately.

    But if you want to keep ignoring that so you can keep telling me I don’t understand because I’m not a Consitutional expert, fine.

    It is clearly you who is ignoring the crux of the issue, and it is precisely because you don’t understand our Constitution, expertly or otherwise, that you continue to try to deflect from it. Your experience has no relevance whatsoever in this discussion, because you, either as a government employee or a liaison between government and entities seeking permits and licenses from your government, are not bound by law to consider the Constitution like your American counterparts in your profession are. I will admit though, that it’s an interesting coincidence in relation to this discussion that you have the job you do, and I can imagine that it stings a little to be dismissed as unknowledgeable when you feel your experience should count for something here. But it just doesn’t. In regards to the free exercise of religion, our Constitution makes your experience moot. I don’t “want to keep ignoring” anything about your experience. I’m just telling you like it is.

    CC

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  27. JimK

    Pulling a new comment level:

    Czar, I agree with you on this one. 100%. It seems prima facie unconstitutional if for no other reason than it seems – based on what we know – to be government attempting to break up law-abiding individuals practicing their religion outside of a formal church setting.

    BUT.

    You’re gonna have a hard time selling that. Most people, especially ’round these parts, don’t give two thin rat ass hairs about any organized religious group getting the shaft from government. Either we’re atheist/agnostic, or if someone is religious, they’re a different kind, so that other group can go pound sand. Or, as we’ve seen, they’re total authoritarians and want the full force of government brought to bear on things they don’t like, and the Constitution be damned.

    First rule of public speaking: Know your audience. So, you just need a new sales pitch. There are multiple First Amendment issues at play here, and I think the right to assembly is the easier sell. After all, that’s a basic right any or all of us might need to exercise in the future. And if we keep allowing the camel’s nose under the tent by giving the government ready-made excuses to break up lawful, peaceable assemblies…by default we give up that right. A right not exercised is a right lost.

    Simple assembly. To my mind, that’s the real hidden danger of cases like this, that the government has been chipping away at the right to assemble for years now. Eg. “Free Speech Zones.” We let that one slide under Clinton & Bush and now it’s the expected, default behavior.

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  28. blameme

    Dear Lord, bless SO. Amen. Oh, and all of the down’s syndrome people he wants to have euthanized. Amen.

    BTW, my IQ is 147 on a bad day. And, I am true to my thoughts – such as being a libertarian, I think all people should be free to assemble to pray, or to hate on God as they see fit. You, though you seem to think you are smart, do not seem to understand libertarianism. You just want YOUR rules enforced on others, not less government.

    That reminds me. Please Lord, bless SO with the wisdom to see his many shortcomings. If you could bless him with a mirror, I believe his start on a righteous path would begin. Amen.

    Oh, and Lord, please help SO provide us with evidence of his poor wittle home being invaded by the ol’ meanie weanie Christians. Amen.

    Smooches SO. Smooches!!

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  29. Jim

    Just wanted to comment real quick on this:

    Clearly this place is being used as a place of religious worship.

    Perhaps it is because of my background, but there is nothing clear about this to me. Much of it depends on your definition of “worship” I suspect.
    For me, worship has a specific function and is defined by our church as needing to meet certain criteria. The “Worship Service” has clearly defined components that are rarely, if ever, met at a home bible study. Bible studies are often led by laymen and are used for *study* as opposed to *worship*. For someone outside the religion, I can see how this distinction may not mean much, but it is rather important for those participating.
    Further, I have seen many “small” home bible studies that easily pull in 20 people or more a session, and it would be more if there were not multiple home bible studies available in the same congregation.
    And in regards to:

    Bible Study? Are they too stupid to read the Bible without someone holding their hand?

    It is more a matter of fellowship and being able to learn more about discussing than reading alone. Why do book clubs exist? You don’t *need* to sit around discussing any book you have read, but sometimes the effort of putting your thoughts into words other people can understand or relate to helps you to better understand your own thinking. Much the same way people discuss on forums, like when talking about the Constitution…

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  30. Seattle Outcast

    Just how many people have you annoyed by knocking on their doors with your special retarded brand of religion to sell?

    You just want YOUR rules enforced on others, not less government.

    Links or STFU….

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  31. sahrab

    Damn Christ Punching Atheists and the never ending war on Christianity!

    This regulation is nothing more than a poorly worded law about parking than any attempt to go after any religion, including Christianity (hyperbole much?)

    We can tell this when we read the regulation:

    Religious, fraternal, or nonprofit organizations (nonprofit)

    Includes churches, temples, synagogues, monasteries, religious retreats, and other places of religious worship and other fraternal and community service organizations.

    This law applies equally to Chrisitians, Jews, Christ Punchers, PETA or Gay Pride. This isnt on the same scope as a Super Bowl party, birthday parties, or bridal showers as they dont fit the definition.

    According to this article, Stephanie holds one study during the week which is attended by about 20 people, and Chuck holds one on Sundays with about 50 people. It really doesnt matter about the number of cars used for the two seperate Bible studies, the Fromm’s meet the definitions cited, in multiple ways, in the regulations (as both a Religous, Fraternal and maybe even a Community Service organization)

    As you (should know) the Constitution enacts limits upon the Federal Government and its interaction with Citizens.

    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

    Congress didn’t make a law, the city enacted an ordinance. That being said, the law should be ruled as unconstitutional because of how poorly written it is. The best defense for the Fromm’s was to simply call the Bible study a book club

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  32. blameme

    None – I don’t believe in spreading Christianity that way. I try to live my life a certain way, and if people want to talk to me about why, then I explain. Beyond that, what they believe is none of my business.

    As for the link, look above in the thread. JimK called you out too.

    Please, Lord, give SO the ability to scroll upward and read his own rantings. Amen.

    Please also, take care of those Down’s Syndrome people that SO wants to send your way stat. Amen.

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  33. CzarChasm *

    BUT.

    You’re gonna have a hard time selling that. Most people, especially ’round these parts, don’t give two thin rat ass hairs about any organized religious group getting the shaft from government. Either we’re atheist/agnostic, or if someone is religious, they’re a different kind, so that other group can go pound sand.

    This is fairly amazing to me Jim. Not the atheist/agnostic part, as I am decidedly agnostic myself. I know, “decidedly agnostic” is a blatant oxymoron. It’s meant as kind of a joke, but it’s also true in that I have actually tried to find it in me to believe without success, but I also can’t find it in me to say, “I know God is a myth.” So decidedly agnostic it is then. My arguments haven’t been of a religious nature at all because of my complete and total lack of a religious background or of a definable religious belief system. I have only argued the law as I understand it, and what I find fairly amazing about what you say here, is that my observations of “Right Thinking” people is that they generally consider themselves law-and-order types, even if the basis for such goes no further than the law itself (as opposed to being based in religious morality etc.). So when you say that “we’re” uncaring about people getting shafted by the government, while at the same time agreeing that the government entity in question is breaking the law, well, if true, that’s a sad commentary on the character of the group you have attracted here. I have no idea if most would concur with your statement about them not caring about rights being violated as long as it’s rights that they don’t wish to exercise themselves. If you are right about that though, I would have to say that the name of your blog is a woeful misnomer.

    First rule of public speaking: Know your audience. So, you just need a new sales pitch. There are multiple First Amendment issues at play here, and I think the right to assembly is the easier sell.

    Jim, I’m not selling anything. I’m staking out my ground. Take it or leave it. Agree or disagree, I don’t care, but I won’t adapt or moderate what I consider to be extremely important constitutional precepts and ideals just to appeal to a wider audience. I believe and I say the same things whether I perceive my readership to be zero or thousands.

    That said, I agree that there are multiple 1st Amendment issues at play in this story. If you’re interested in “selling” one issue over another, have at it, chances are I’ll express agreement with you. Hard sell or not though, I’ll continue to focus on the issues that I personally find the most compelling, if I continue with this at all that is. It really has gotten rather ridiculous. Aside from that though, I’ve got a surgery scheduled for tomorrow morning, and I expect to be kind of out of it for at least a couple of days afterwards anyway. I’ll probably party till I puke (literally) on pain meds, and clearing the fog just to argue with people who “don’t give two thin rat ass hairs about” their fellow Americans’ rights being trampled just because they don’t believe in the same things as they do sounds rather like a waste of effort.

    CC

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  34. CM

    So your argument is that any activity related to religion can have any effect upon neighbours and Constitutionally, there is nothing that anyone can do about it, because it’s specifically protected under the Constitution?
    So they could have 100 cars arriving daily and the rest of the people in the street would just have to put up with it?

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  35. CM

    Exactly sahrab, the govt isn’t looking to control religion (they’re not trying to “scrutinize and micromanage every little aspect of an individual’s or family’s religious practices”) they’re looking to control the environmental effects of an activity. The activity happens to involve religion. But in assessing the proposal the religious parts are completely irrelevant. The traffic and noise issues are 100% relevant.

    Sure, maybe the city needs to change the wording and take out the word ‘religious’ and replace it with something similar (something vague) which triggers the same requirement. But it’s semantics at the end of the day, because the religious componnent isn’t relevant, its the generated environmental effects that are.

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  36. Tool

    Someone needs to study their case law just a bit before saying things this ridiculous:

    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

    Congress didn’t make a law, the city enacted an ordinance. That being said, the law should be ruled as unconstitutional because of how poorly written it is. The best defense for the Fromm’s was to simply call the Bible study a book club

    Sorry, but the case ” Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993)” blows that notion out of the water. The fourteenth amendment has applied the constitutional bill of rights to state and local governments. Even city ordinances. The aforementioned decision was a supreme court case which struck down a city ordinance interfering with the free exercise of religion precisely for the reasons mentioned by Czar Chasm. BECAUSE the bible club is explicitly religious, it is granted a level of protection from government intrusion that a frat meeting or book club would not. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=508&invol=520

    That is the relevant case law concerning San Juan Capistrano’s blatantly unconstitutional city ordinance when used to fine people for having bible studies.

    it’s semantics at the end of the day, because the religious componnent isn’t relevant, its the generated environmental effects that are.

    To CM, the religious component is absolutely relevant, because the government must have an extremely compelling interest to interfere with an exercise of religion, traffic and noise usually don’t meet the threshold of granting the government power to interfere with constitutional rights. The Supreme Court has stuck down multiple local ordinances restricting the free exercise of religion, even laws concerned with “generated environmental effects.” This excerpt is straight from the Supreme Court case I referenced above.

    in Fowler v. Rhode Island, supra, we found that a municipal ordinance was applied in an unconstitutional manner when interpreted to prohibit preaching in a public park by a Jehovah’s Witness, but to permit preaching during the course of a Catholic mass or Protestant church service.

    San Juan Capistrano’s ordinance permits the use of churches for worship but not homes, very similar issue. I would be absolutely shocked if this ordinance was not struck down.

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  37. CzarChasm *

    Good grief. Have you actually read what I’ve written? If there are parking violations, bring a fleet of tow trucks, impound every car that is in violation, and even make the fines or impound fees progressively higher for each violation of each owner. Same with noise violations, as long as they’re not trumped up just because the City ends up losing the case, if they indeed do.

    BUT DON’T FINE PRIVATE PROPERTY OWNERS AND/OR THEIR GUESTS FOR STANDING ON THEIR RIGHT TO FREELY ASSOCIATE AND PRACTICE THEIR RELIGION, PERIOD!

    Are you really so dense that you can’t understand the distinction between traffic, parking and noise enforcement, and illegally regulating the free exercise of religion? One hardly has the right of *free* exercise if they’re extorted by the government for a *permit* to exercise a fundamental right. This isn’t that hard CM, unless being a free citizen with enumerated fundamental, unalienable protected rights is such a perplexing thought because you’ve never lived under such a system that you simply can’t grasp it.

    Whatever, I went to the Pacific Justice Institute website a little bit ago, and noticed something that I hadn’t seen before:

    Fromm was told by a hearing officer that regular gatherings of more than three people require a conditional use permit.

    So this isn’t even about traffic. A gathering comprised of Mr. & Mrs. Fromm and just two of their Bible study friends on a regular basis would invoke the permit requirement according to that hearing officer. You want to require a permit for the neighborhood book club gatherings of four or finve people? Go right ahead Capistrano. Demand permits for four or five high school students getting together regularly to do homework? No problem, g’head. Got a neighbor whose bar-buddies come over every Sunday and Monday to watch football on his giant HD flat screen TV? The City is within its rights to demand a license for such infrastructure-taxing activities. But in order to regulate the free exercise of one’s religion, a government entity must show a *compelling* governmental interest, and four people sipping soft drinks in a cul-de-sac whilst studying their Scriptures hardly presents the City with such an interest. Neither does 50 or a 100 people, with the caveat that their vehicles may well create a compelling interest for which the City can act upon without ever needing to consider that the occupants of the property are gathering to practice some aspect of their religion.

    CC

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  38. CM

    in Fowler v. Rhode Island, supra, we found that a municipal ordinance was applied in an unconstitutional manner when interpreted to prohibit preaching in a public park by a Jehovah’s Witness, but to permit preaching during the course of a Catholic mass or Protestant church service.

    But in this case the ordinance doesn’t prohibit the activity, in any residential sub-zone (whereas some activities ARE prohibited in some sub-zones in the ordinance). In all residential sub-zones, a conditional-use permit is required.
    Or is requiring the permit somehow interpreted as ‘prohibiting’ the activity?

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  39. Tool

    Although the activity isn’t prohibited, it is still being restricted. If the local government can demonstrate a clear and compelling interest as to why religious practices need conditional use permits and no other law will suffice, than perhaps the ordinance won’t be struck down. The Supreme Court usually will still strike down onerous restrictions on constitutional rights even if they aren’t outright prohibitions. For example requiring protestors in cities to pay for the police protection during marches wasn’t an outright prohibition, but it was such an onerous restriction the court struck it down.

    Forsyth County, Georgia v. The Nationalist Movement, 505 U.S. 123 (1992)
    http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1992-06-20/news/1992172091_1_forsyth-county-supreme-court-nationalist-movement

    Regarding financial restriction to freedom of speech and assembly, the Supreme Court said:

    “Speech cannot be financially burdened, any more than it can be punished or banned

    The same is true for practicing religion.

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  40. CM

    If there are parking violations, bring a fleet of tow trucks, impound every car that is in violation, and even make the fines or impound fees progressively higher for each violation of each owner. Same with noise violations, as long as they’re not trumped up just because the City ends up losing the case, if they indeed do.

    Significant effects can arise from activities without specific parking violations being triggered. Parking violations dealing with individual cars, not the cumulative effects of many A large number of vehicles all making two movements along a quiet road can probably create a greater adverse effect than a few individual parking violations.
    Sounds like they’re not making any noise as part of the activity (other than that associated with vehicles).
    I’d be interested in why it would be ok to restrict them by issuing parking and noise violations but not via an ordinance that looks at parking and noise violations in a more integrated manner. Really, what is the difference?

    Are you really so dense that you can’t understand the distinction between traffic, parking and noise enforcement, and illegally regulating the free exercise of religion?

    As I already stated, does this mean, in your mind, that the effects from religious activities (so long as they comply with parking and noise enfocement) are immune from any sort of regulation? So they could invite 1500 people to their place every week and the neighbours should just have to put up with it, so long as people are parking legally and noise emanating from the property meets the applicable noise standards?
    Your interpretation means that religious assembly is granted rights way beyond any other sort of activity. That’s not ‘protecting’, it’s elevating, to the point where others need to sacrifice their amenity to accomodate it.

    Are you really trying to tell us that if a person moved in next door to you and started having two sessions a week of 300 people, cramming the road with cars, significantly reducing your privacy and the value of your property, that you’d expect that nothing could or should be done to consider whether it’s an appropriate use of a residential property?

    One hardly has the right of *free* exercise if they’re extorted by the government for a *permit* to exercise a fundamental right.

    How does it meet any reasonable meaning of extortion? Like with any activity which can potentially create effects not usually associated with residential, the process is designed so that the specifics of the particular case can be looked at.

    Fromm was told by a hearing officer that regular gatherings of more than three people require a conditional use permit.

    Unless we know more about this, anything we say is speculative. If it’s not in the ordinance, the only alternative is that the City have internally determined on a threshold/trigger. But more than three sounds extremely low.

    …with the caveat that their vehicles may well create a compelling interest for which the City can act upon without ever needing to consider that the occupants of the property are gathering to practice some aspect of their religion.

    Catch 22. In order to determine whether there is a compelling interest, the City needs information about their religious practices (how often, how many people, what noisy activities will occur, where will people park, etc). How do they get that, other than by way of information requirements associated with a permit application. The permit application is simply a mechanism.
    Unless you honestly believe the City are interested in the religious details (i.e. they want to make moral/religious judgements), and they’ll determine whether to grant the permit based on those? If so, what is the basis for believing that? What has taken place that would give you that impression?

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  41. CM

    Thanks.
    I read the summary at the beginning of the case you linked to. I see one reason the Court reversed the judgement was:

    Each of the ordinances pursues the city’s governmental interests only against conduct motivated by religious belief, and thereby violates the requirement that laws burdening religious practice must be of general applicability.

    In this case there is no evidence that the ordinance, which deals with a wide range of possible activities people might want to undertake on residential land, only pursues the governments interests against conduct motivated by religious belief. Clearly it doesn’t.
    The law in this case is of general applicability. They’d look at noise and traffics effects associated with a whole range of activities that are likely to generate the same type and level of effect.

    The ordinance also seems to be neutral, which is what two other reasons are related to. There is no specific gerrymandering involved.

    Would you disagree, based on what we know?

    The other issue is that we’re only getting information from one side, in addition to what we can read in the ordinance. There might be other relevant information that makes a difference.

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  42. CzarChasm *

    Great posts Tool. Thanks for the case law. I spent a minute looking for some, but I’m not real good at searching legal sites and reading through rulings ain’t exactly my idea of fun anyway. Anyway, welcome to the party, glad to have you.

    CC

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  43. Tool

    Hey Czar no problem, I actually posted a bit for the last several years, just not on the newest RTFLC.

    CM, in reference to the Church of Lukumi Babalu case, my main point was to illustrate the silliness of Sahrabs argument. The bill of rights applies to all U.S. governments, federal, local and state. You are correct in pointing out that the lack of neutrality in restricting religious freedom often leads to the overturning of a law (as in the Lukumi Babalu case).

    However, San Juan Capistrano’s ordinance could be overturned on two separate constitutional ground .

    1) The law could be construed to favor established religious organizations which practice worship in churches, as opposed to homes. This was my point in referencing Fowler v. Rhode Island. The Supreme Court could very well interpret the need for conditional use permits to engage in home religious ceremonies as treatment which is unduly restrictive of particular religious groups. Even though San Juan Capistrano does not explicitly prohibit gatherings, financial restrictions (conditional use permits) will most likely be interpreted as restrictions.

    2) The second and I believe more likely reason for this ordinances overturn, would be the requirement that religious practices need a conditional use permit in residential neighborhoods at all. The Forsyth case illustrates that Supreme Court justices take a fairly dim view of financial burdens to 1st amendment rights.
    In the Forsyth case, the local government had a very compelling interest to regulate speech, as the protestors were white nationalists bent on inciting controversy and violence. Even in that case the Supreme Court rejected the local government’s financial restrictions freedom of speech. I doubt a bible study of 40 people demonstrates a clear and compelling government need to restrict and regulate freedom of religion.

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  44. CM

    Thanks Tool. You’ve advanced the discussion considerably.

    I doubt a bible study of 40 people demonstrates a clear and compelling government need to restrict and regulate freedom of religion.

    What about 100 people? 200?
    Presumably it’s matter of fact and degree. Much as it is with the City trying to set ordinances which protect residential amenity (which contributes a signiifcant part of value) and which seek to provide some degree of certainty for those wishing to carry out activities and also for neighbours.
    I’ll have a look at Fowler v. Rhode Island.

    To a foreigner (and a town planner) it seems strange to me that something involving religion would be given special privileges ahead of any other activity that might have exactly the same environmental effects. I fully admit that I’m no expert (or anything close) on the US Constitution, but I would have thought that the intent was to ensure that people practicing religion wasn’t restricted BECAUSE it was religion (as well as ensuring that one religion was treated no different under the law to any other). I.e. it protects their rights to do so, not elevates their right to do so above alternative possible activities.

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  45. Tool

    To a foreigner (and a town planner) it seems strange to me that something involving religion would be given special privileges ahead of any other activity that might have exactly the same environmental effects

    Well, religious freedom along with speech, assembly and many others is viewed legally as a protected right in America, thus any government attempt to regulate said freedom will result in stricter scrutiny from courts. As strange as it seems, rights like the ability to practice (or not practice) religion and own firearms in a persons home are elevated above “activities,” like being able to play sports or conduct auctions at a house. The logic being that the specific rights guaranteed under the Constitution are necessary for a healthy and free republic to function properly, free from government intrusion. You won’t see the Supreme Court overturning state hands free cell phone laws regardless of how intrusive the laws seem to some people.

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  46. CM

    I’d be pretty pissed off being a neighbour in that street and having no option but to put up with all the traffic or to move. Especially as they may decide to double the numbers if there is nothing stopping them. The neighbours just take the hit because religion is deemed more important than anything else. Weird to have to legitimately consider the possibility of this happening when buying a property.

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  47. CzarChasm *

    I’d be pretty pissed off being a neighbour in that street and having no option but to put up with all the traffic or to move. Especially as they may decide to double the numbers if there is nothing stopping them. The neighbours just take the hit because religion is deemed more important than anything else. Weird to have to legitimately consider the possibility of this happening when buying a property.

    Yeah, freedom’s just a pain in the ass, ain’t it though? LOL

    Edited To Add:
    Bringing one question from above down here:

    As I already stated, does this mean, in your mind, that the effects from religious activities (so long as they comply with parking and noise enfocement) are immune from any sort of regulation?

    I would imagine most of us here, who JimK described as agnostics or atheists, wouldn’t know the first thing about the “effects” of religious activities. Only those who either benefit from their religious activities while they’re alive, or find that they were right about choosing that path after they’re gone, will ever know the effects of their religious activities.

    I guess I understand your question though, though I wouldn’t only limit the laws that can be enforced to just parking and noise. At the point in the discussion at which you asked that question, you obviously didn’t get it, and I’m not sure if you do now, but the only thing a government entity can’t do in enforcing a given jurisdiction’s laws is base either the law or the decision to enforce it on the fact that a religious activity is taking place. Presumably, parking restrictions in residential areas are equally enforced. Knowledge of the activity the driver of the illegally parked car is engaging in is rarely known, and certainly not needed for enforcement to ensue by the ticketing cop or the tow truck driver. The part of the law which you yourself linked to specifically states that it is basing its restrictions on religious groups, which, as far as zoning goes, likely has legal precedent that allows such restrictions. But using those same presumably legal zoning laws to justify restricting private citizens from inviting friends (or even perfect strangers for that matter) over to their private property to engage in religious activity is blatantly unconstitutional.

    So they could invite 1500 people to their place every week and the neighbours should just have to put up with it, so long as people are parking legally and noise emanating from the property meets the applicable noise standards?

    Well, as long as we’re going to get into stupid hypotheticals that have zero to do with the case being discussed, let me say this about that. The Fromms can have all 315,000,000 Americans over to their house to study their Bibles if they want to. Admittedly, parking’s going to be a real bitch, the sewer system will quickly be overwhelmed, new asphalt will have to be laid while they’re inside studying and then laid again after they leave for probably a 50 or 100 mile radius from the Fromm’s home, and the good citizens within the entire City Limits of San Juan Capistrano are going to be pissed off, not just the neighbors on that one road, but yeah, the Fromms can invite anyone they want to to their property any time they want to. If the neighbors/town/county/state citizens don’t like it, move to someplace where someone like you gets to decide how much freedom they’re allowed to have on their “own” property. I’m fine where I’m at, even at the risk that one (or more) of my neighbors might choose to live differently than I would if I ran their home.

    CC

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  48. sahrab

    And this is why context is important

    Sorry, but the case ” Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993)” blows that notion out of the water.

    It’s pretty simple. The First Amendment didn’t have anything to do with what local or state governments could do. By and large, modern Americans don’t get this because we have a completely different perspective on governmental organization, and have lived our entire lives under a very different system of governmental organization. The Bill of Rights (i.e. Amendments 1-8) were not meant to, and did not, place limitations on states – states, to the extent that they wanted to, placed limits in their own constitutions or laws. The Bill of Rights spoke to what the federal government could not do

    Many States could, and did, establish religion (i believe California did at some point).

    Your case example is not pertinent, the statu[t]e forbade the “unnecessary killing of an animal in a public or private ritual or ceremony not for the primary purpose of food consumption. In this case, the statu[t]e was directly aimed at religious cermenony. Which is why, using the 14th amendment, the Supreme Court overruled it because the law applied specifically to the Church (Santeria).

    This instance, San Juan Capistrano, does not target a selct group (like your example) and applies uniformly.

    the religious component is absolutely relevant, because the government must have an extremely compelling interest to interfere with an exercise of religion

    Both the federal Supreme Court and State Supreme courts have ruled that Religion does not trump law. A good example, and more relevant to the conversation (unlike your example) is Prince v. Massachusetts

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  49. CzarChasm *

    Obviously, the ridiculous example was CM’s, but yes, there is a number that would create a compelling public interest. But 50 ain’t even close, as all kinds of activities like birthday parties, frat parties, funeral services, weddings and on and on and on, routinely exceed 50 people in residences everywhere in this country. My “ridiculous” example was simply an exaggeration of CM’s stupid one.

    CC

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  50. sahrab

    Would it be a Birthday Organization?

    If so then it would be subjected to the same laws as the Fromm’s (per the statu[t]e)

    If its a Birthday party then its not.

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  51. CzarChasm *

    You’re being as ridiculous as CM now. So you’re saying that all it takes to establish an “organization” which would fall under the authority of the statute being illegally used in this case, is a plan by a group of friends to get together on specific days of the week? OK, but you’re gonna piss off all those Monday Night Football “organizations.” Under this theory, 20 people who end up at a friend’s house and have a great time together and somebody says, “Hey guys! I’ve had a blast tonight! I love you people! Let’s do this every Saturday night!” BOOM! Ya got yourself an “organization” subject to the zoning laws that were clearly intended to control planning and managing building, traffic, noise etc., and clearly not intended to control friendly get-togethers in citizens’ homes.

    You really hate freedom, don’t you?

    CC

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  52. sahrab

    I’m sorry but your the one that has made the ridiculous claims from the beginning.

    (1) City Demands Christians blah blah – Unlike your claim, there is/was no attack on Christianity, the reality is the City demands any organization pay a permit.

    (2) A city ordanance is in violation of the Constitution – Reality the Constitution limits the Federal Government (a Constitutionalist would know this)

    (3) Wrap something in a Religious blanket and you can trump and supercede the rights of others – Reality Relgion does not trump law

    Wait…. holee crap

    Werent you the one that tried to claim that States should be allowed to purposely deny rights and priveledges to a specific subset of Law Abiding Tax Paying citizens solely based on a vote?

    While this incident is different (because it effects EVERY Organization), your now upset because a Local Government, who applies its laws uniformly, is enforcing the will of the people that elected them?

    Jesus Christ Hypocrite much?

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  53. Tool

    Sahrab, the constitution was considered narrowly limited to the federal government before the 14th amendment was passed. For a “constitutionalist,” you really seem to avoid the text of the 14th amendment.

    Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    Local governments, cannot restrict peoples freedoms claiming they are not bound by the Constitution. I have already shown 3 examples where municipal ordinances were overturned by the Supreme Court. Read some Constitutional case law on that please, just look at the links I provided. The entire point of the 14th amendment was so people who said “The Constitution only bounds the Federal Government” no longer could use state and local ordinances to deprive people of Constitutional rights.

    attack on Christianity, the reality is the City demands any organization pay a permit.

    Please read what the Supreme Court said in Forsyth v. Nationalist Movement. Financial restrictions on 1st amendment freedoms are usually struck down even with compelling reasons. In the Forsyth case, the County was asking for people to pay for protests when their activities were generating serious social tension.

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  54. sahrab

    I dont recall making the claim i was a constitutionalist but thanks!

    I dont avoid the text of the 14th, i’m pretty damn sure i set the context of my response by discussing the original Bill of Rights, but hey i’m a Constitutionalist now and its not necessary to go over that again. We’ll ignore my first post that stated this should be overturned as unconstitutional.

    The problems with your cited case law’s are they should have been over turned as they were crafted specifically to infringe upon Religion. That is not the case in this instance.

    And unlike your specifically tailored examples of Case Law, i cited case law that is directly related to this thread and the understanding that Religion does not trump Laws. What your arguing for is allowing anyone to break any laws under the guise of some Religious practice, and free from prosecution because they wrapped themselves in Religion “blanket”.

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  55. CM

    My point is that there is obviously a line/threshold somewhere. CC is still trying to paint this as a black and white issue, when it clearly isn’t. He’s also STILL trying to pretend that the city is trying to specifically control religion, when none of the evidence supports that. There is no evidence that they’re after them because the activity is religious. Along with the Fromms and their supporters, he’s just speculating.

    Yeah, freedom’s just a pain in the ass, ain’t it though? LOL

    I wouldn’t consider having high volumes of traffic up my road all of a sudden on a twice-weekly basis (or whatever it is in whatever example you can come up with that just falls short of a ‘compelling public interest’) as freedom. I would be suffering the effects of the tyranny of religion being beyond the laws that would otherwise apply to any other activity that created the same nuisance.

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  56. CzarChasm *

    (1) City Demands Christians blah blah – Unlike your claim, there is/was no attack on Christianity,

    I copied and pasted the title of the article I linked to. Except for that, I have not based one single word of my arguments on Christian persecution, which is why I ignored your first rant. It obviously wasn’t directed at me because I haven’t said a word about what you now refer to as “my claim.”

    the reality is the City demands any organization pay a permit.

    “Any” organization is subject to the laws in question? The section of the law being discussed is about nothing but religious, fraternal or service organizations, with the words “non-profit” in parenthesis, suggesting at the very least that they’re attempting to regulate something that has an organizational structure, mission statement etc., even if the words “non-profit” wouldn’t necessarily limit the scope of the law to full-blown 501-C3 organizations who enjoy tax exempt status etc. Whatever, private citizens choosing to meet on the same day(s) of the week on private property hardly falls within the scope of this law, neither the spirit nor the letter.

    (2) A city ordanance is in violation of the Constitution – Reality the Constitution limits the Federal Government (a Constitutionalist would know this)

    Good grief. Tool tried to alert you gently as to where you were going wrong with this line of BS, but you do realize that the 14th Amendment is a part of the Constitution too I trust? The very first of five clauses to the 14th says unambiguoulsy:

    1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    If your reading comprehension skills are so lacking that you do find the bolded sentence to be ambiguous, do a modicum of your own homework by searching on something like “precedents – privileges and immunities clause 14th amendment.” Then sit back away from your computer screen so as not to mess it up as your head explodes when you read the truth that has escaped you for so long now.

    While this incident is different (because it effects EVERY Organization)

    EVERY Organization? Then you should have no trouble documenting all the Monday Night Football “Organizations” that meet every week at the same time at the same house, and who have been subjected to expensive traffic and engineering studies plus the licensing fees.

    See, the fact is, it’s obvious you haven’t read much of the details of this topic. The law in question does not apply to EVERY organization, it ONLY applies to religious, fraternal and service organizations, and the clear intent is to regulate zoning issues for physical locations where large groups of people congregate on a regular basis. Well, maybe large groups, maybe not, as one city official was cited as saying that “more than three people” constituted such an organization according to the Pacific Justice Institute linked to in my OP. In any case, you really should actually read the back-story before commenting so ignorantly, and in such a personal way, towards those who obviously have.

    As far as the Prop 8 discussion to which you refer, your understanding of the concept of “will of the people” is as lacking as your understanding of the privileges and immunities clause of the 14th Amendment. California has a referendum procedure built into its constitution. Getting a law on the books via that process is arduous, expensive and time-consuming to say the least, but a law passed via referendum is no less a law than one passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor. Prop 8 was the answer by The People to an activist ruling by California courts that forced gay marriage on them against their will. Only a complete ignoramus would contend that a handful of judges is a superior representation of the will of the people over a referendum vote that originates with The People, is ushered through the arduous process by The People and is passed by a 52% to 48% vote of The People.

    I ask again, you really hate freedom, don’t you?

    CC

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  57. sahrab

    YOU FUCKING IDIOT, what is the Title of this Thread?

    City Demands Christians Buy Permit For Home Bible Study

    No you werent trying to frame this as a War on Christianity argument, especially with your leading sentence

    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?

    What were you defending if it wasnt the poor Christians?

    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?

    More hyperbole from you about the War on Christians

    Hell you were so sure that this was the City going after Christians you even included this excerpt

    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.

    do realize that the 14th Amendment is a part of the Constitution too I trust?

    Every other claim you attempted to make, about my argument, has been responded to. You replied after i responded to Tools posts so there truly isnt a reason you didnt include them… Other than attempting to divert attention to the fact that your entire premise (City going after Christians) is false

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  58. CM

    Then you should have no trouble documenting all the Monday Night Football “Organizations” that meet every week at the same time at the same house, and who have been subjected to expensive traffic and engineering studies plus the licensing fees.

    As discussed, this code-enforcement department is reactive, meaning officers only respond to complaints. Any group that meets twice a week and brings in up to 70 people could trigger a complaint, and the City could consider it a fraternal or nonprofit organisation under the same clause. Religion is only part of that same clause.

    Fraternal: “The only true distinction between a fraternity and any other form of social organization is the implication that the members freely associate as equals for a mutually beneficial purpose, rather than because of a religious, governmental, commercial, or familial bond, although there are fraternities dedicated to each of these topics”

    What you need to do is to demonstrate that something like this has happened in this jurisdiction, and a complaint has been made, and the City has decided that it couldn’t take action. Then you’d have a possible case of people being treated differently because their meeting was religious.

    I copied and pasted the title of the article I linked to. Except for that, I have not based one single word of my arguments on Christian persecution

    It’s perfectly reasonable for the City to have taken these steps without it being religious persecution. However you clearly accepted the claim (based on one half-assed article from WND) that this IS religious persecution.

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  59. Xetrov

    It’s pretty simple. The First Amendment didn’t have anything to do with what local or state governments could do.

    CANTWELL et al. v. STATE OF CONNECTICUT 1940

    The state is likewise free to regulate the time and manner of solicitation generally, in the interest of public safety, peace, comfort or convenience. But to condition the solicitation of aid for the perpetuation of religious views or systems upon a license, the grant of which rests in the exercise of a determination by state authority as to what is a religious cause, is to lay a forbidden burden upon the exercise of liberty protected by the Constitution.

    Forgive me, but it doesn’t matter what your opinion is. The courts have ruled quite clearly that State and Local Government cannot violate rights guaranteed in the US Constitution.

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  60. CzarChasm *

    YOU FUCKING IDIOT, what is the Title of this Thread?

    The title of the thread is exactly what I said it was, a copied and pasted title of the article I linked to to start the conversation. Did you happen to notice that it’s blue and that if you click on it, you go to another website? (BTW, when I say “click,” I mean you push one of the buttons on that little electronic thing that some people call a “mouse” that you use to control some functions of your computer.) That’s called a “link,” in this case, copied and pasted text made into a hyperlink that goes to a page with those same words at the very top of the page. The title of this thread is the same as the title of that article, which I used to introduce the topic. It’s a common practice at every type of discussion venue I’ve ever visited, but someone else’s words should never be thought to lock the poster into every concept an article might comment on. More on that later.

    No you werent trying to frame this as a War on Christianity argument, especially with your leading sentence

    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?

    What were you defending if it wasnt the poor Christians?

    I wasn’t defending anything or anyone, I was using stealthy innuendo to indict the irrational, obsessive, paranoid aversion to exactly what I described, fundamentalist, Christian orthodoxy. Not being a religious person is one thing, but being anti-religious-people is quite another thing, and I find many of the posts around here, some of yours included, to be just that. I don’t have to defend religious people. The Constitution does that for me.

    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?

    More hyperbole from you about the War on Christians

    The article to which I linked is indeed Christian-centric. I, however, am not, as evidenced by my commenting only on what I sincerely believe is an unconstitutional restriction placed upon people for pursuing their religious practices. That’s called a constitutional argument, not a “War on Christians” argument. It’s rather difficult to make a coherent case against my words referring to a “War on Christians” when none of the words I’ve authored in this thread suggest any such thing. A rudimentary English refresher course might help you out in these types of discussions.

    Hell you were so sure that this was the City going after Christians you even included this excerpt

    Well, I just included an excerpt of your post in this reply. Does that mean that I agree with you about what I’m “so sure” about when obviously I don’t? I mean really, I’ll explain myself regarding my own words, but you have no idea what I’m “so sure” about just because I quote a bit of text of someone else’s words. That’s really quite a leap of ummm….faith on your part. Well, maybe it’s no leap at all, but rather a stumble over your own ignorance.

    Every other claim you attempted to make, about my argument, has been responded to. You replied after i responded to Tools posts so there truly isnt a reason you didnt include them… Other than attempting to divert attention to the fact that your entire premise (City going after Christians) is false

    Actually, there’s a pretty good reason why I didn’t include them. I had a surgical procedure this morning. Besides having a little pain and a decent buzz from the Demerol, I am feeling much better than I expected to be feeling. However, I’m limited in my movement and my stomach has felt like there’s a squirrel running in a wheel in it ever since I got home, so quick trips to and from the porcelain Buddha are out. Also, I’ve fallen asleep a couple of times while I was responding to your rude, profane idiocy, and I’ve had to pick up where I left off either when I got back to the computer or woke up. All in all, I think I’ve done very well. Stayed on topic, haven’t allowed you to bait me into a profanity-fest, and I made what amounted to the exact same argument that Tool did, which I take a fair amount of pride in because it seems rather obvious to me that s/he knows from where s/he speaks, unlike you.

    And oh yes, you “responded” to Tool’s posts regarding the privileges and immunities clause of the 14th by saying:

    I dont avoid the text of the 14th, i’m pretty damn sure i set the context of my response by discussing the original Bill of Rights….

    All I can say to that is, so what? You repeatedly claimed that the 1st Amendment doesn’t apply to this case (you know, as in now, September of 2011, not prior to the passage of the 14th) because Congress didn’t pass a law, Capistrano did. Your context was that you didn’t have a freakin’ clue how the 14th has been applied for around 150 years in this country.

    Your conclusion that I’m an idiot in light of your plethora of sophomoric constitutional misreadings, misunderstandings and outright ignorance, is laughable.

    CC

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  61. CM

    Does a group have to prove itself to be a legitimate religious group? Presumably so, otherwise anyone could set something up using religion as a front in order to avoid ordinance requirements etc?

    Again, I totally get (and respect) that people should be able to gather and practice their religion without the government telling them they can’t, and also the concept of the government not favouring one religion over another. But I am struggling with the logic behind providing large religious meetings with special treatment above other activities that create the same effects. This might be coming from a place of obvious ignorance, but wasn’t one of the reasons to escape England to get away from the practice of religion having a special status above everything else?

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  62. CzarChasm *

    …you clearly accepted the claim (based on one half-assed article from WND) that this IS religious persecution.

    I can accept that all laws that push up against the 1st Amendment are not rooted in an intent to persecute religion or religious people. That doesn’t mean that I am precluded from arguing what I strongly believe is an unconstitutional law that is unconstitutional because of its restrictions on religious practices.

    I signed onto nothing from the article except for what I commented about it. I have not said “persecution,” I have said, “unconstitutional.”

    Maybe you can join sahrab in that reading comprehension refresher and let us know how it’s going for ya’s in your next post, instead of trying to read minds when you’re clearly deficient in the requisite skills to be good at it.

    CC

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  63. Xetrov

    This is all prefaced with being my opinion as I understand the topic of the thread. What I was specifically responding to sarahb on previously is outlined by case law.

    A personal group getting together to study the bible does not equal a religious group in the eyes of this specific law. I would say a formal religion (at least by today’s standards) could be considered something that takes in donations. Does this guy accept donations from those who come to study the Bible at his home? Does he charge a fee for those who participate? If so, i would say this statute could be argued to apply to him.

    My parents were members of a bible study group that happened often in my home growing up (it was held at various members homes). That the government could or would try to stop that practice because they didn’t have the proper paperwork filed I find absolutely ridiculous. That is 100% against the First Amendment, IMO.

    This might be coming from a place of obvious ignorance, but wasn’t one of the reasons to escape England to get away from the practice of religion having a special status above everything else?

    It was one specific religion having special status above everything else. People wanted to practice as they saw fit without Government telling them how they had to do it. EDIT: Hence the statement “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” They didn’t want a “Church of the United States”.

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  64. CM

    Ok thanks.

    A personal group getting together to study the bible does not equal a religious group in the eyes of this specific law. I would say a formal religion (at least by today’s standards) could be considered something that takes in donations. Does this guy accept donations from those who come to study the Bible at his home? Does he charge a fee for those who participate? If so, i would say this statute could be argued to apply to him.

    The problem seems to be the way the definition is worded and how it’s interpreted. I can see why the City want to interpret it the way they do – they want to ensure they have a way of protecting neighbours from situations like this one (where a highly organised event are being set up at the end of a cul-de-sac).

    My parents were members of a bible study group that happened often in my home growing up (it was held at various members homes). That the government could or would try to stop that practice because they didn’t have the proper paperwork filed I find absolutely ridiculous. That is 100% against the First Amendment, IMO.

    Yeah I totally understand that. Again, I think it’s a matter of fact and degree. I think that’s reasonable. Once it gets beyond a certain size, it has obvious impacts outside the subject property. Isn’t it reasonable for that to be considered? If the people hosting have considered it and made provisions and plans so that the effects beyond the property are no more than minor, the City should have some way of simply ticking that off. That would seem to be a way of respecting all relevant issues.

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  65. Xetrov

    Once it gets beyond a certain size, it has obvious impacts outside the subject property. Isn’t it reasonable for that to be considered?

    It’s reasonable.

    I guess the problem I have with it is how the City tried to go about solving the complaint. If it truly is a parking annoyance, or traffic congestion problem, go after that. Don’t tell them they have to have a permit to assemble for a bible study because it’s a ‘religious’ or even ‘fraternal’ organization. Freedom to assemble and exercise Religion are very clearly outlined in the First Amendment. Parking too many cars on the street…not so much.

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  66. CM

    I guess the problem I have with it is how the City tried to go about solving the complaint. If it truly is a parking annoyance, or traffic congestion problem, go after that.
    Don’t tell them they have to have a permit to assemble for a bible study because it’s a ‘religious’ or even ‘fraternal’ organization. Freedom to assemble and exercise Religion are very clearly outlined in the First Amendment. Parking too many cars on the street…not so much.

    In terms of taking action, the City Council simply have the framework and the rules that are on the books. If there is a complaint, they have to investigate it. Then it’s a matter of whether this activity meets that definition. It sounds like they’ve been telling the Fromms what the issue is since May. The Fromms obviously decided to take a stand.

    Here our planning legislation allows local govt to require people to remedy situations which are determined to cause adverse effects, outside of the need to apply for a consent. It’s not often used, because most of the time people need consents and it’s sorted out during that process. If that was the case there, the Council would be able to avoid the fact that a religious meeting is the trigger, and go right to addressing the specific effects which are the issue. That would take the hot-button issue of religion out of the equation.
    Or does anyone honestly believe that the religious aspect to this is of the concern of the City, and that it’s not about up to 140 vehicle trips a week along the length of a quiet semi-rural cul-de-sac?

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  67. CM

    I had a surgical procedure this morning. Besides having a little pain and a decent buzz from the Demerol, I am feeling much better than I expected to be feeling. However, I’m limited in my movement and my stomach has felt like there’s a squirrel running in a wheel in it ever since I got home, so quick trips to and from the porcelain Buddha are out.

    Glad to hear things went well (I’m assuming they did if you feel better than you expected). All the best for the recovery.

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  68. blameme

    Dude – people getting together for a Bible study does not constitute a religious organization – that is the point. The city has no right to ask for a permit as these people are not an organization.

    As CC stated, people getting together regularly does not an organization make. Now, if they are taking donations, filing for tax free status etc – then yeah – they would be a church and I would be the FIRST to agree with you that they should pay up.

    But these are ordinary Americans, meeting at a friend’s house to talk about a “book” they all like. How in the hell is that a church -it isn’t and this makes your bias shine through.

    The city has no legal grounds to demand a permit for people to get together for what amounts to a book club. No organization – just ordinary Americans getting together.

    Just like Monday Night Football, atheists getting together on Sunday night to through darts at a Jesus picture – whatever – none of these are an organization.

    Any true person concerned with government over reach should side on the case of the Bible study group – no matter how much you hate the content of the book they happen to like.

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  69. CzarChasm *

    Thanks. Wasn’t a big deal. Just a bone spur on the ball of my foot. A very routine surgery that carries with it an extremely sparse record of failure, but it does hurt like Hell for a few days afterwards and makes hurrying up to do anything, like getting to the john for instance, quite the challenge. The Demerol makes me fade in and out of consciousness, which is nice for the nostalgic throwback to the 60s and 70s effect, but which this tired old body doesn’t perceive now as “fun” like it did back then.

    Anyhow, thanks for the well-wishes.

    CC

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  70. sahrab

    Religious, fraternal, or nonprofit organizations (nonprofit)

    Includes churches, temples, synagogues, monasteries, religious retreats, and other places of religious worship and other fraternal and community service organizations

    In regardst to religion* the statu[t]e affects Religous, Fraternal or Non-Profit organizations. It does not affect ONLY churches, temples, synagogues, monastaries, religious retreats, or other places of religious worship (what is a bible study again) but those are included in as examples of entities affected.

    *The statu[t]e, no matter what CC attempts to claim, is not targeting Religion, it targets organizations. A distinction he fails to understand.

    The other thing to remember, the City didnt go AFTER the poor Chrisitans, the city reacted to a complaint from the Neighbors. The neighbors have rights as well.

    And once again, we’ll ignore the fact i said the statu[t]e should be overruled.

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  71. CzarChasm *

    Statue

    StatuTe

    In regardst to this thread and the mountainous piles of farcical faux-intellectual punditry, I don’t care who ya are, that’s some funny stuff right there Xetrov.

    CM said yesterday:
    Does a group have to prove itself to be a legitimate religious group?

    This is an interesting question in regards to this discussion CM. For one thing, the Fromms are obviously not interested in being deemed an “organization,” and in fact, no definition of what makes an “organization,” other than the critically amorphous phrase, “…or other places of religious worship,” even exists that could conceivably apply to the Fromms in anything I’ve read either here, or in the various articles I’ve read, or in the statuTe the City is attempting to apply to the family, beyond some arbitrarily-arrived-at number of friends a property owner should be allowed to have over on a regular basis for whatever purpose. The vagueness of the statuTe in this regard is severely complicated, constitutionally-speaking, by the fact that they’re trying to regulate religious activity to begin with. Presumably, since they’re studying the Bible with their friends, they are indeed Christians, so the “legitimate” nature of the religious activity the Fromms are engaging in is not in question at all. The only question is does the City have the legal authority to regulate it, and rather clearly from quite a bit of case law provided you, it does not.

    But I find your question interesting separate and apart from this particular case, because there is law on the books that restricts religious practices, and that has withstood constitutional challenge, that I find in direct conflict with the 1st Amendment on its face. For instance, the issue of polygamy and traditional Mormonism. I don’t wish to practice either polygamy or Mormonism myself, but I have no problem whatsoever with folks who do practice either/or. People go to jail though for practicing polygamy, and there’s even another constitutional problem that I see with it, and that’s that only the men are ever prosecuted.

    Another group of issues revolve around American Indian religious practices that are outlawed and nearly always upheld. Some of the Southwestern tribes used peyote in their rituals and ceremonies. Outlawed and upheld. Some tribes did various forms of self-mutilation. Outlawed and upheld. Most tribes across the country hold that there is religious significance in either animals or parts of animals. Feathers are extremely significant in many of their religious ceremonies or rituals, but don’t let the US Forestry and Game Dept. catch you with an eagle feather, even if it just fell off the bird in flight and you didn’t harm it in any way to get it. You will go to jail. Even certain dances were outlawed because they were seen by the US government, not as a religious ritual, but as incitement to revolt against the government.

    So yes, the US government has a long history of regulating religion and/or religious practices based on either political considerations or their own Judea-Christian values, appropriating authority to regulate religious practices extra-constitutionally, and I personally find that just as wrong, and just as unconstitutional as I find this statuTe being applied the way it is against the Fromms. The goal from the American perspective should be to do better, to live up to the ideals and mandates contained in the Constitution, rather than allowing government to wriggle out from under the restrictions it places on them.

    sahrab said while wandering through the desert that is his mind searching for a coherent thought:
    *The statu[t]e, no matter what CC attempts to claim, is not targeting Religion, it targets organizations. A distinction he fails to understand.

    Hmm….So does the statuTe target the Fromms “organization” under the 1st Amendment as it was prior to July 9, 1868, or after that date when the privileges and immunities clause of the 14th Amendment was in full force and effect? Until you acknowledge that the original Bill of Rights was expanded in its scope exponentially by the passage of the 14th Amendment, your perspective is meaningless to any discussion of law as it relates to the free exercise of religion in this country. Your umm…”contributions” in this thread have been that of a mental-midget, constitutionally-speaking, and a willful one at that as you ignored at least two different referrals to the 14th that were honestly offered to try to get you up to speed so you could join in as an adult conversationalist, rather than the profane, juvenile and ignorant moron you chose to portray yourself as instead. Of course, that doesn’t even take into account your brainless assertions about what the phrase, “will of the people” means in relation to this and another thread.

    To be a hypocrite in the eyes of a blithering imbecilic dunderhead is a trophy I will wear like a valedictorian’s ribbon.

    CC

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