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-California City Fines Home Bible Study

by Dr. D ~ September 21st, 2011


A couple in San Juan Capistrano, California have been fined for holding a Bible study in their home. The city officials also demanded that the home Bible study group stop meeting unless they get an expensive Conditional Use Permit.

Chuck and Stephanie Fromm were fined $300 earlier this year after an atheist in their neighborhood complained about the Bible study held at their house once or twice a week. According to the city, a ‘Conditional Use Permit’ must be obtained if more than 3 people regularly gather together in a home. The Fromm’s home fellowship has attracted up to 40 people at times. Officials also threatened to fine the Fromm’s $500 per meeting if they continue.

A Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for residential areas can end up costing $100,000’s due to an extensive process which includes;  engineering and traffic studies, architectural designs, seismic retrofits, and a required number of public hearings.

It should be noted that the homes in the Fromm’s neighborhood are large estates on 1 or more acres. Parking has really not been a problem and most of the neighbors support the Fromm’s.

Pacific Justice Institute has taken up their case and is appealing the decision in the California Superior Court in Orange County. Brad Dacus, PJI president commented with the following:

“Imposing a heavy-handed permit requirement on a home Bible study is outrageous. 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.”

Also, I found this quote from Dacus on a ‘Focus on the Family’ website:

“It’s interesting that they would choose to enforce this against this couple having people over to their house for prayer and Bible study. We’ve heard no reports of them enforcing it against men who get together to watch football games on Sunday or couples playing bridge.”

“If the city is able to succeed in shutting this home group down, we could see similar acts of persecution executed at the whim of any city, anywhere in America. We read about how China, Iran and the other countries around the word invade homes and shut them down when they’re caught reading the Bible or praying, but this is not some foreign country. This is San Juan Capistrano, Calif.”

Response: This case is definitely outrageous. A permit is necessary for gathering of 3 or more? What about Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts? They are obviously violating this rule also. There are all sorts of groups meeting regularly in homes. The quotes from Brad Dacus are particularly poignant. It is an important case and we will be following it for sure.

Since I live in the area (South Orange Co.), I do know a number of folks who live in San Juan Capistrano but I sure won’t mention any of their names since they’re all involved in home Bible studies themselves.

Knowing the city as I somewhat do I would venture to say that nearly every church there has several home prayer groups and Bible studies going on during the week somewhere in the city. Good luck to the city officials trying to shut them all down.

It is amazing to me that the city wants to proceed with this case. San Diego County, with far more resources, was smart enough to back away from a similar situation in 2009 when one of their officials tried to shut down a Bible Study and found that they had bitten off far more than they could handle. The phones literally rang off the hook in every elected official’s office until it was resolved.

Once this case receives the national attention it deserves, there are going to be a lot of regrets down at city hall in San Juan Capistrano – a city that was ironically founded around a Christian mission.             *Top

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9 Responses to -California City Fines Home Bible Study

  1. Brian

    Something similar has been happening in Gilbert, Arizona.


    I am not sure of the outcome of the Gilbert situation.


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  4. Dr. D

    The Gilbert situation was resolved 2 week later with the help of the ADF. There was also one at the same time in Rancho Cucamonga, CA that was also resolved through the help of PJI.
    There seems to be a rash of these all across the country.

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  6. John

    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.

    I lived in California for a while, they (the government) is unfamiliar and unwilling to abide by this simple sentence. Better move to Texas.

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    this:FacebookEmailPrintTwitterDiggStumbleUponMoreRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Home Bible Study, Uncategorized and tagged blogaday2011, California, Christianity, Residential area, San Juan Capistrano California, Supreme Court of the United States, Zoning by Chuck Ring. Bookmark the permalink. […]

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