Anglican Samizdat

May 28, 2009

Couple Ordered to Stop Holding Bible Study at Home Without Permit

Filed under: Christianity,The fall of the West — David Jenkins @ 5:50 pm
Tags: ,

This is not in Communist China, it’s in San Diego:

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.

But the major use permit could cost the Jones’ thousands of dollars just to have a few friends over.

For David and Mary Jones, it’s about more than a question of money.

“The government may not prohibit the free exercise of religion,” Broyles told FOX News. “I believe that our Founding Fathers would roll over in their grave if they saw that here in the year 2009, a pastor and his wife are being told that they cannot hold a simple bible study in their own home.”

“The implications are great because it’s not only us that’s involved,” Mary Jones said. “There are thousands and thousands of bible studies that are held all across the country. What we’re interested in is setting a precedent here — before it goes any further — and that we have it settled for the future.”

The couple is planning to dispute the county’s order this week.

If San Diego County refuses to allow the pastor and his wife to continue gathering without acquiring a permit, they will consider a lawsuit in federal court.

A salutary wake-up call for Christians: our faith is under attack on all fronts. We are thrown out of our buildings and now we can’t even meet in our own homes.

In spite of being an incorrigable misanthrope, I have an overwhelming urge to hold a large bible study in my home.



  1. Just how many people are in this Bible Study Group–or, more to the point, how many vehicles are filling up the neighborhood when these (weekly?) groups meet?

    The other residents have the right to peace and quiet in their own homes, as well as their share of neighborhood parking spaces–after all, they are paying property taxes for the privilege.

    If this is a once-a-month event of eight people or less, the pastor’s complaint is reasonable.
    However, if he is drawing more than five or six vehicles to park on the neighborhood streets on a weekly basis, in a neighborhood zoned residential, I think the residents have a right to complain.

    Carpooling might help the situation.

    Comment by eibren — May 28, 2009 @ 10:09 pm

  2. This is vile beyond belief. The state imposing a burdensome tax on religious meetings because the neighbors are complaining ? Unbelievable.

    Comment by Bill Riggs — May 28, 2009 @ 11:38 pm

  3. The group averages 15 people per week. The pastor owns the vacant lot next to his home and had his guests park there, so this is not a traffic issue.

    This is a weekly event (Tuesdays) and has been going on for 5 years.

    Comment by Ken — May 29, 2009 @ 7:51 am

  4. I should point out that this is not only a serious issue for Christians, but for all religious folks across the nation. I know many in the pagan community have already come out in vocal support for the Jones’s, because all small home-based religious groups are threatened by this. As a pagan myself, who holds regular worship at my own home, this is a very chilling development and one which must be resisted on a broad interfaith level.

    Comment by Joseph — May 29, 2009 @ 8:53 am

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