City Approves Model Policy to Protect Home Bible Studies
San Juan Capistrano, CA – A Southern California city that sparked national outrage after fining and threatening a home Bible study group has now taken steps to prevent future conflicts, and legal experts say the move could become a model for cities across the country.
The City Council of San Juan Capistrano voted unanimously late Tuesday night to adopt changes to its zoning code, based on recommendations by Pacific Justice Institute. After PJI went to court earlier this year to defend the Fromm family, who had targeted by the City’s actions, the City reversed course and refunded the fines it had levied against the family. After refunding the fines, the City began the difficult task of amending its Municipal Code and worked together with the Fromm family to find a solution.
PJI President Brad Dacus issued a video comment on the latest developments, praising the City for following PJI’s recommendations so that code enforcement officers will not seek to shut down small home Bible study groups in the future. Go to: http://youtu.be/3Z0Iu1jyxTY. Dacus is also encouraging concerned citizens across the country to check with their local officials to make sure that home bible studies will be protected in their communities. PJI offers free legal assistance to people of faith whose cities are hostile to their religious practice.
The changes adopted by San Juan Capistrano conform to the California Building Code, which does not apply church building standards to home-based groups with less than 50 attendees. As a result, small home-based religious groups in the city will be treated like similarly-sized secular gatherings and will not be required to get costly use permits.