On Persecution and Zoning Laws

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OneNewsNow: “County Puts Kibosh on Home Bible Study” Home Bible studies—do you need government approval to host one?

In a scenario frighteningly redolent of repressed societies, a San Diego pastor and his wife were recently told they needed a permit to host a weekly Bible study in their home. That requirement should alarm not only anyone who attends such a Bible study, but also anyone who values the freedoms of religion and peaceable assembly mandated by the U.S. Constitution.

"This is a land use issue; it is not an issue of religious expression.”

According to Rev. David Jones and his wife, Mary, a code enforcement official of San Diego County visited their home. After asking questions to confirm that the roughly 15-member group met for religious purposes (e.g., asking whether the group prayed), the official cited the couple for a violation of county regulations. He then informed the Joneses that they would need a “major use” permit (which could cost several thousand dollars to obtain) before continuing religious assembly. Several legal organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, came out in support of the Joneses.

Thankfully, San Diego area 10News reports that the situation has been resolved, and according to the county’s chief administrative officer, it was all basically a misunderstanding: “The county has never tried to stifle religious express and never will. This is a land use issue; it is not an issue of religious expression.” However, the Joneses still believe the incident was motivated by the religious nature of the meetings at their home.

Regardless of the true motivation behind this incident, Christians must remember the blessing it is to live in a country where there is no persecution (constitutionally, anyway) of individuals for their beliefs. Incidents such as these are also a reminder for us to pray for our brothers and sisters in the many places where worship, Bible study, and evangelism put Christians in mortal danger (Matthew 5:11).

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