“So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” — Acts 19:20
In a case of legal justice for the Christian faith, the Southern California City that had fined and banned Christians Chuck and Stephanie Fromm from holding home Bible studies without a permit, has now reversed its stance and refunded the money from the fines back to the Fromms. As first reported on Beginning and End, the Fromms were issued a fine for holding home Bible studies without a “permit” by their local government in San Juan Capistrano. The Fromm’s would hold Sunday morning Bible study sessions at their home with attendance sometimes reaching 50 people. Their house is approximately 4,300 square feet, sits on several acres of land and is adjacent to an abandoned lot. There were no issues with parking or noise disturbance, yet the city still insisted that the Bible study was illegal because they did not have a “use permit.” Yet the Fromm’s neighbors who threw large birthday parties or gathering for sporting events were not required to do any such thing.
The Fromms, along with the Pacific justice Institute, a legal foundation that takes on cases for the right of freedom of religion for Christians, took the town government to court. As the case was getting set to commence the city opted to reverse its position and no longer require the Fromm’s to have a permit for their home Bible study. Additionally,they returned the money from the fines.
Karen P. Brust, San Juan Capistrano City Manager, who had been working with the Fromms, also stated, “City staff will commence the discussion with the Planning Commission…about the issue of the need to clarify the Land Use Code with respect to places of public assembly and gatherings at single family residences.”
The case of the Fromms was an example of the increasing persecution against Christians in the United States. But God had other plans. Continue to pray for the Fromms and for legal groups like the Pacific Justice Institute to continue to work in the courtrooms for the rights of Christians to express and practice their faith freely. And give praise and thanks to God for this legal victory.
Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, noted that the resolution was a timely reaffirmation of core religious values. “From the landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock, through the founding of San Juan Capistrano as a mission, the freedom to worship God has been a bedrock American principle. This victory is an important reminder of that principle.”
Michael Peffer, who heads PJI’s Southern California office and handled the case, added, “We will continue fighting to ensure that SJC and other cities put freedom first—especially when it comes to informal gatherings in private homes.”