A Christian couple in Orange County, California were fined by their local municipal government for holding a Bible study in their home in the city of San Juan Capistrano. Chuck and Stephanie Fromm, who hold a Bible study in their home on Sunday mornings with friends, were fine $300 by local officials who informed them that regular gatherings of more than three people in a home require a permit from the city. “We’re just gathering and enjoying each other’s company and fellowship. And we enjoy studying God’s word,” Stephanie Fromm told CBS2. The Fromm’s defended their study and appealed the fine. As the early reports stated:
There was no noise beyond normal conversation and quiet music on the home stereo system. They met inside their family room and patio area. Many neighbors have written letters of support, denying they were disturbed by the presence of the Bible study. The group is not affiliated with any particular church, nor is it seeking to establish a church in the home.
The city denied the appeal ruling that the Bible study is a “church” and thus requires a Conditional Use Permit (or ‘CUP’) in residential areas. The officials then informed the Fromm’s that future gatherings without a permit would result in a $500 fine. The Pacific Justice Institute, a legal advocacy group for Christians, has now agreed to represent the Fromm’s as this case is now being taken to the Orange County Superior Court. In a statement to the press, Brad Daucus, the attorney representing the Fromm’s stated:
“In a city so rich with religious history and tradition, this is particularly egregious. An informal gathering in a home cannot be treated with suspicion by the government, or worse than any other gathering of friends, just because it is religious. We cannot allow this to happen in America, and we will fight as long and as hard as it takes to restore this group’s religious freedom.”
The District Attorney representing the city cited that the large amount of guests for the Bible study took a lot of parking on the street and thus there was an issue that warranted a permit (thus ignoring the legal issue which is whether the study is actually a “church” or not). The Fromm’s stated that most of their approximately 40 friends who come carpool and thus parking is not an issue. Additionally, the Fromm’s only have one next door neighbor and on the other side of their home is an empty six acre lot. One wonders if all of the families inviting over friends and family in droves for Sunday football games are acquiring permits for their regular gatherings? Or how about the parents who organize birthday parties for their children at their homes on a regular basis?
The persecution against the faith will unfortunately only grow as the Bible prophesied. But that will never stop the light of the Gospel from shining all throughout the nations of the world. Pray for the Fromm’s and other Christians who are under persecution for their situations to improve but most importantly, for them to keep the faith.
” Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven..” — Matthew 5