The city of San Juan Capistrano, California, has fined a family for holding regular Bible studies in their home.

Chuck and Stephanie Fromm, who have been hosting Bible studies and other gatherings in their home since 1994, were cited for violating a municipal code which requires a conditional use permit (CUP) for religious, fraternal, or nonprofit organizations that meet in residential areas. The Fromms were fined twice for a total of $300. When they appealed to the city, they were informed that the violations would be upheld and that any future meetings without a CUP would face a fine of $500 each.

The code in question prohibits such groups of three or more people meeting without a CUP, said Chuck Fromm, who is the former president of Maranatha! Music and co-founder and editor of Worship Leader magazine.

"The law says any nonprofit or fraternal organization," he said. "If I'm having five guys over to watch Sunday football every week, that's a regular meeting of three or more people that would require a [CUP]. Now, have they cited anybody for that? No, they're citing a religious meeting."

The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), who is now representing the Fromms, plans to fight to have the city apologize to the Fromms and refund their money, PJI president Brad Dacus said. The organization also hopes to have the policy revised.

"No family in America should ever have to worry about a local government fining them simply for meeting with their friends and family in their own home to read the Bible or pray together," Dacus said. "The city is demanding that this family has to pay money to the city in order not even to have a Bible study, but in order just to seek permission from the city to be able to have a Bible study. That is totalitarian, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Current IssueThe Greatest Threat to the Church Isn’t Islam—It’s Us
The Greatest Threat to the Church Isn’t Islam—It’s Us Subscriber Access Only
A leading Nigerian theologian believes the real danger to Christianity in Africa is in the church.
RecommendedTrump’s Religious Liberty Order Doesn’t Answer Most Evangelicals’ Prayers
Trump’s Religious Liberty Order Doesn’t Answer Most Evangelicals’ Prayers
Prayer breakfast pledge to ‘totally destroy’ Johnson Amendment comes up shy; conscience exemptions from LGBT anti-discrimination rules missing.
TrendingThe Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
The Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
How the former FBI director’s interest in Reinhold Niebuhr shaped his approach to political power.
Editor's PickWe Actually Don’t Need a Trinitarian Revival
We Actually Don’t Need a Trinitarian Revival
Attempts to teach a ‘better’ understanding of the Trinity may do more harm than good.
Christianity Today
City Fines Couple for Hosting Bible Studies Without a Permit
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

September 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.