September 21, 2011
In Orange County, California, it is illegal to hold a religious meeting in your home.
This is what Chuck and Stephanie Fromm, of San Juan Capistrano, discovered when they were fined $300 earlier this month for holding a Bible study class on their property.
Officialdom in the county said the couple were singled out because it is considered illegal to hold “a regular gathering of more than three people” on private property. Officials stated that the Fromms require a license to hold meetings in their home.
San Juan Capistrano authorities claim home Bible study is not allowed because it is a “church,” and churches require a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) in residential areas.
The Fromms face additional fines of $500 per meeting for any further “religious gatherings” in their home, according to the Pacific Justice Institute.
The city’s action is a brazen violation of the First Amendment, which guarantees free worship without government intervention.
PJI and the Fromms plan to appeal a decision made by the city to uphold the fine and restriction to the California Superior Court in Orange County, according to KCOY 12 News, a Fox affiliate.
Ironically, the city of San Juan Capistrano was founded as a mission in the late 1700s by Catholic priest Junipero Serra. A local chapel established by Serra is the oldest standing building in California.