Couple Ordered to Stop Holding Bible Study at Home without Permits

Pastor David Jones and his wife Mary have been told that they cannot invite friends to their San Diego, Calif. home for a bible study — unless they are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to San Diego County.

“On Good Friday we had an employee from San Diego County come to our house, and inform us that the bible study that we were having was a religious assembly, and in violation of the code in the county.” David Jones told FOX News.

“We told them this is not really a religious assembly — this is just a bible study with friends. We have a meal, we pray, that was all,” Jones said.

A few days later, the couple received a written warning that cited “unlawful use of land,” ordering them to either “stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit,” the couple’s attorney Dean Broyles told San Diego news station 10News.

foxnews.com/story/0,2933,522637,00.html?test=latestnews

So Christians can’t have bible studies in their homes but Atheist can put signs on bus claiming God is not real? What has happened to this world?

All I want to know is how many is a few friends, how often, and are they singing with a sound sytem? If its every Wed and Sun, thirty or more people, and a sound system. Yeah I as a neighbor would not like that and would agree with the need of a permit. It will be interesting to see more facts in this case. Call me a doubting Thomas, but police usually only get called if they are distrubing neighbors.

From the linked “full story” article

The county employee notified the couple that the small Bible study, with an average of 15 people attending, was in violation of County regulations, according to Broyles.

So, I doubt a sound system was employed. I am a doubter too but there is also a chance that this pastor angered someone and this is a vandetta. Bad precedent.

And another tidbit:

A local pastor said the County has cited him for hosting a weekly Bible study in his home. The County said visitors who drive to those meetings are affecting traffic in the neighborhood.

So are all gatherings of 15 people in a private home problematic? I have had Christmas parties and bar-B-ques bigger than that!

I think I heard some time ago in the distance the words “Let the Christian Persecution begin”. So this doesn’t surprise me. Our small faith gatherings would qualify as the same sort of thing.

We regularly have family gatherings were there are anywhere from 10 to 16 people on my dh’s side of the family. On my side it can be as many as 30 people.

My mother did have an incident with a neighor one time that they would let their friends and family park on my mom’s property (no curbs). My mom called the police and the police went over and told them the cars had to stay on THEIR property they could not park on anyone else’s property. It’s possible that may have been what started this?

Having said that:

As long as they are being peaceful and it’s in their home than I say that the San Diego most likely stepped over the line and this is unlawful according to the US Constitution and the couple should certainly challenge this in court.

Ok, I just read the poster above. We can very EASILY excede this at a typical family gathering! The pastor and his wife definitely need to challenge this!

How often do you have them? Everyweek? Three times a week? Would you mind your neighbor having that many parties a year?

I personally do not mind my neighbor having the occasional party but I will get upset and complain if its three times a week and I cant get out of my drive way. Also I would like to know if money exchanged hand during these times, a call for donations if you would.

But would you be any happier if the parties continued as long as the county’s palms were greased? Disturbing the peace isn’t an issue here. It is the county saying a permit (and fees) are required. And the link said they were weekly meetings - same as my Bible study.

(BTW, during Football season weekly parties by my Aggie neighbors are quite common. :D)

You better apply for your permit before the season starts again.:slight_smile: It is ridiculous that any government entity can tell you what you can and cannot do as far as meetings in your own home. How far we have fallen.

Here is a bit of background on the situation:

A local pastor said the County has cited him for hosting a weekly Bible study in his home. The County said visitors who drive to those meetings are affecting traffic in the neighborhood.

Pastor David Jones has been hosting weekly Bible studies at his Bonita home during the past five years. About 15 people attend the meetings, he told 10News.

Jones said a visitor to a neighbor’s house called the County after a Bible study member hit the visitor’s car while leaving. Shortly after, a county code enforcement officer gave him a citation that said he needed a permit to host the weekly Bible study meetings, he said.

Jones and his attorneys sid he shouldn’t have to get a permit for what he does inside his house. “We think it is clearly permissible. We think this is a violation of our constitutional rights,” Jones told 10News.

A County spokeswoman says the County is concerned with parking and its impact on the neighborhood.

10news.com/news/19585458/detail.html

That’s what I thought. Like I said above my mom ran into this same situation years ago. Neighbors that had weekly gatherings of family and friends, about the same number as what this couple had. As long as they stayed off of other people’s property it wasn’t a problem.

Yeah, but how often? I think that’s key.

If this pastor is having them every week, weeeeeeeeeellllll… that can get problematic. Christmas happens only once a year. (Unless you’re have a Christmas party every week for three months prior… which I doubt. :wink: )

As long as the couple can take care of the parking it really shouldn’t be a problem. My mom’s neighbor ended up putting in a parking lot in their front yard by the street. I kid you not! Solved the problem that my mom had with them parking in her yard. My mom got her grass back. The neighbors got to have their weekly gatherings and everyone was happy. :slight_smile:

I do not disagree with this. :slight_smile: Add to that, provided that the neighbors are not being disruptive too. :wink:

Inconvience is not a reason for the county to crack down on this.
If it is a small group meeting much as they have in many Catholic parishes, and they do meet weekly perhaps they could rotate the meeting place as we do. But if not, frankly the city/county has no business getting invlolved in this unless a law is being broken. Our right to have company in our own homes and to park on public streets where parking is allowed should not be a situation for the city/county officials. I have a neighbor that all through football season has weekly family get togethers with at least 5-10 cars in a very small neighborhood of only 34 homes and one street which curves around to one outlet.
I might think at those times how I wish there were not so many cars parked here. But I certainly would not call the city and ask them to stop them.
Instead I am glad they seem to have such a close family and friends. And most especially that they are pleasant neighbors who do not throw drinking/drugging parties.
I guess the thing is if this pastor is haiving Bible studies with sober, pleasant peopl then that’s a good thing in my mind. In spite of the parking situation.:slight_smile:

Perhaps I am wrong, but I am still convinced that if this were, say, a muslim prayer group, or even an atheist group discussing evolution, there would be no such permit required.

Sorry, if this is a free country the state should not be threatening them to stop at the point of a gun. It’s outrageous.

I read this story on a San Diego news website hoping to find something a bit more balanced than Fox, et al. A couple of things struck me. One, the issue of parking and safety – specifically, ensuring access for emergency vehicles. I live in L.A. where parking and zoning are also big issues. We have deadly fires here. A few years ago, wildfires in San Diego County killed a lot of folks, some while they were in their cars on neighborhood streets as they tried to escape the oncoming fire storm – some never made it to their cars. This is a cul de sac – one way out. Perhaps this crossed the mind of the neighbor who complained. It seems like a valid concern.

Parking is a valid concern on it’s own in most California cities and urban area. Many streets are narrow, some have parking restrictions limited to residents who must get parking permits. Zoning becomes an issue because residential are designed to be low traffic and congestion free as much as is allowed. The desire and demand for this will increase with the price of the property. I don’t know what kind of area this is, what price range the houses are in, etc., so I can’t say for sure how big a role this plays. If neighbors are suggesting that these meetings are large enough to require church zoning. We had a similar issue on a very expensive neighborhood in L.A. a few years ago, except it involved meetings of Hasidic Jews (of course, in this case the concerned neighbors were labeled as anti-Semites instead of anti-Christians). But it could be ongoing Tupperware parties that constantly increased congestion and parking. The neighbors could say you were operating a retail business out of your home. I guess they’d be labeled anti-Capitalist.

The point being that there are sometime legitimate concerns about property use, which is why we have zoning laws. Property rights, like civil rights, are limited when they infringe on the rights of others or increase the possibility of public harm (emergency vehicles, etc). Most folks would complain if I decided to set up a strip club or a garbage dump in my house or back yard, yet if you believe in unrestricted use of private property then you’d have no right to complain.

I don’t see anything in the Constitution that says that the freedom to practice your religion only exists as long as your neighbor can find a parking space. The reasoning behind the city’s decision is sound but the method of enforcement is all wrong.

If the issue is parking then the little house church can solve this by car-pooling. Should be room for four or five cars.

Good points Swan - I thought about the safety issue too.

This is right, then there wouldn’t be an issue.

Not knowing what the ordinances are for this county I can not say if this is religious persecution or not. If the ordinances are specific to churches then we need to know what it says to really say it is religious persecution. There is much about this story we do not know.

I seem to recall that if you are going to have a big party, say a Wedding Reception, in your backyard you need to get a permit for it. Expressly because of parking and the possible noise it will create so the police and fire rescue are aware of it.

Brenda V.

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