OC Couple Threatened With $500-Per-Meeting Fines For Home Bible Study

MISSION VIEJO (CBS) — An Orange County couple has been ordered to stop holding a Bible study in their home on the grounds that the meeting violates a city ordinance as a “church” and not as a private gathering.

Homeowners Chuck and Stephanie Fromm, of San Juan Capistrano, were fined $300 earlier this month for holding what city officials called “a regular gathering of more than three people”.

That type of meeting would require a conditional use permit as defined by the city, according to Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), the couple’s legal representation.

The Fromms also reportedly face subsequent fines of $500 per meeting for any further “religious gatherings” in their home, according to PJI.

“We’re just gathering and enjoying each other’s company and fellowship. And we enjoy studying God’s word.” Stephanie Fromm told CBS2.

After city officials rejected the Fromms’ appeal, PJI, which represents other Bible study participants, will appeal the decision to the California Superior Court in Orange County.

“This is also about a city trying to get a family to pay fees – to pay fees and pay money to them – just to be able to have friends over to read the Bible,” attorney Brad Dacus of PJI told CBS2.

Neighbors have written letters to the city in support of the Fromms, whom they said have not caused any disturbances with the meetings, according to PJI.

“The Fromm case further involves regular meetings on Sunday mornings and Thursday afternoons with up to 50 people, with impacts on the residential neighborhood on street access and parking,” City Attorney Omar Sandoval said.

The city of San Juan Capistrano was founded as a mission in the late 1700s by Catholic priest Junipero Serra, who established a local chapel that remains the oldest standing building in California.

Officials with San Juan Capistrano did not respond to requests for comment.

Comments

One Comment

  1. Jimster says:

    this is yesterdays news!

  2. A Christian Woman says:

    Shame on the City of San Juan Capistrano. This is wrong on so many levels!

  3. Lynden Rodriguez says:

    What is wrong with these people. This is a flagrant violation of the couple’s Civil Rights, not to mention freedom OF religion – not freedom FROM religion.

    1. Duh! says:

      Where in the article did it say that they were being denied the right to worship whatever religion they choose?

  4. Karmic says:

    How would you feel about a regular meeting of muslims next door to you to “study the koran”? Would you feel the same way? Would you believe that they were having their rights violated?

    1. Kicker00 says:

      Yes, I would still say their Civil Rights were violated. Let’s not belittle this to a religous belief debate, but call it what it is. It would not matter if they were Christian, Catholic, Mormon, Muslim, or Budist…it is still a violoation of anyone’s Civil Right. If this couple were hosting gatherings weekly to honor law enforcement or military would they be cited, I think not. Leave these people be, they are not harming or bothering anyone!

    2. David0001 says:

      The Believers would have picketed on the lawns of any Muslim study group in their neighborhoods. the city has to lay the hand of law evenly. Most folks do not attend church in these modern times and do not view religion as being as important as those that do engage in such social activities.

    3. Robert Allen Reider Jr says:

      Biggot! Freedom of religion is THE Founding principal of this Nation. And until we change the constitution requiring Christian only worship of all citizens it always will be.
      This is an absolute violation of Constitutional Premise and Right as well as a violation of the rights to free speech and of peaceable assembly. Get a lawyer folks you have a civic duty to remove these folks from public service now and forever. Hopefully that will serve as a warning to others who are bothered by the idea of religion, ANY religion.

  5. rich says:

    yes karmic i would still think they had their rights violated i may not agree with the muslim faith but if all they are doing is peacefully studying their faith then they have a right to do so just as any faith has the right to study theirs

    1. Astonished says:

      Thank you, you beat me to it. This is America and America was founded on the premise that people have the freedom to worship their religion without persecuition. Even Muslims. By-the-way Karmic, not every person who follows the Muslim religion is violent. Just like not every Christian is violent, dispite Christianity’s history of violence.

    2. rich says:

      here is an idea. if you can not host more then 3 people for a faith based gathering with out it being called a church, can you then host a gathering of more then 3 people where liquor is served and music is played and not call it a bar?? lets get real people if they are not disturbing the peace and mearly have some friends over who are of a like mind with their faith what have they done wrong??

      1. bugman says:

        i agree with you with family we get together on week ends birthdays holidays and my mom and friends always talk about church does this mean her house is a church ?bugmanb

  6. CarmaDogma says:

    It is appalling, but couldn’t they just pay the city off with the permit fee they are asking for? The city is just looking for the loose change in the seat cushions, I don’t think they are trying to persecute Christians. Code officials are out there in force these days to rake in cash cities have lost in the economy. Watch for more situations like this in the future.

  7. T says:

    This isnt right !! Once you close your front door – it shouldnt matter how many people are in your house or what they are doing if it isnt illegal , (which they are saying this is.) Not disturbing the neighbors, doing something GOOD and they are trying to tell you its wrong ?????? Pray for them ….
    Matthew 5:44
    New King James Version (NKJV)

    44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,[a]

  8. Silly Me says:

    I had a similar problem with my HOA, I was told I would be fined $50 every Friday if I kept having Bible Study in my home. We bother no one. However, everyone is ok with one neighbor blowing up their music and no one complains. So, sad.

    1. Duh! says:

      You hit the nail on the head.
      No one complains about blaring music.
      Yet someone had to have complained about your bible study, otherwise how did the HOA find out about it?

      You should start complaining about the loud music.

  9. David0001 says:

    Would you believers be sooo supportive if it was a gathering of people to study the satanic bible or would that be different? If so explain how? why?

    1. Astonished says:

      Again, this is America. As long as they are not breaking any laws, or using the home for an abattior to sacrifice animals, I really don’t have the right to protest against it. The study of Satanism isn’t always about bloodshed and death. In fact, I would be more in my rights (and more likely) to protest the out-of-control beer bash and smackdowns my neighbors have every weekend.

      The city’s description: “a regular gathering of more than three people” also describes a bridal or baby shower or a Bar Mitzah. Should those be illegal too?

      1. David0001 says:

        IF YOU HAD ONE EVERY WEEK YES IT SHOULD BE ILLEGAL.

      2. wgaf says:

        DAVID0001
        Obviously you don’t have any friends, with good reason …. dumbsh!t.

  10. rich says:

    david as i said above i may not agree with that faith but if they are not doing illegal stuff like animal sacrifce which i know some satan types do then NO i would not object to their gathering. the whole point here is this if the group is not making lots of noise, if you can not hear in your home what they are doing in their home then why should anyone gripe about what they are studying??

  11. TTD says:

    Absolutely not, Orange County is getting beside themselves and are playing with the first amendment. The right to hold bible study or hold a study group should not be curbed in anyway. More than three people, seriously OC, don’t tell me what I can do in my house when it comes to religion. Off limits OC.

  12. Astonished says:

    David0001

    Why? Just because you don’t like them?

  13. Bob says:

    “a regular meeting of 3 or more people” requires a permit?? What about book clubs, Superbowl parties, jewelry parties or even “regular” family gatherings?

    A group getting together to study the Bible is not a “church” as the city is claiming. They don’t have a tax code, etc. So technically, they are not a church.

    It’s too bad the city officials have to single-out Christians. I don’t think they would do this to Muslims or Jews who get together in groups in private homes.

  14. mister s says:

    I’m a member of American Atheist, and even I know this is Bulls*it.

  15. wgaf says:

    One neighborhood b!tch gets her panties in a bunch and the city council can’t rush to kiss her ass fast enough. Is there any wonder that cities are in such dire financial straits with such aS$wipe morons in charge.

    1. Duh! says:

      Then why don’t you run for city office?

Comments are closed.

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