A California couple is suing their municipality to have the right to have Bible study with friends in their home. They have already been fined twice for holding the gatherings without a permit. The city informed them that the next violation and any subsequent ones will cost them $500 each. The Fromm’s are represented by Michael Peffer of the Pacific Justice Institute in Santa Ana. Trial date is set for October 7, 2011.
Stephanie Fromm hosts a Bible study on Wednesdays that draws about 20 people, while Chuck Fromm’s Sunday-morning gathering draws as many as 50. But in the neighborhood of large homes on even larger lots—the Fromms live in a 4,700-square-foot home on a parcel that also has a corral, barn, pool and huge back lawn—Stephanie Fromm said parking was never a problem. Neither was noise, she said.“There’s no singing or music,” she said. “It’s meditative.” But according to city records, a code-enforcement officer gave the Fromms a verbal warning about the meetings in May. Citations were issued in May and June, according to city records. San Juan Capistrano City Attorney Omar Sandoval said the city had not yet been served with a copy of the legal action, so he could not comment. The Fromms’ citations say they violated section 9-3.301 of the Capistrano Municipal Code, which prohibits “religious, fraternal or non-profit” organizations in residential neighborhoods without a conditional-use permit. The footnote on the section says it “Includes churches, temples, synagogues, monasteries, religious retreats, and other places of religious worship and other fraternal and community service organizations.”
Follow me on Twitter: @StacyOnTheRight