Skip to comments.Illegal Religious Gatherings: Government clamps down on Bible study
Posted on 06/01/2009 7:55:29 PM PDT by Abakumov
Religious freedom recently clashed with arrogant bureaucracy in San Diego County, Calif. Religious freedom prevailed.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtontimes.com ...
so much for “freedom of religion” and “freedom of assembly”.
Or a gay parade in one's backyard.
Hey don't sneeze at one of those gatherings, someone might say "God bless you" and get us all locked up. /sarc
Luckily in this case the good guys won. I read that even the ACLU sided with the pastor. Amazing.
Asking what they do during the meetings sounds like abuse.
But if she had 15 cars parked in front of her house and down the street a few times a week every week, yes, I as a neighbor would get pissed and demand that she move it somewhere that it doesn’t disrupt the neighborhood.
A good way to tell if it is honest enforcement of code is to ask whether it would be okay if the visitors carpooled, making maybe four cars at the house.
You probably don't even need a permit for
a Tupperware Party.
The permit i’m sure, requires a fee.
Anyway the libs in government can tax or
regulate and discourage religious worship
they will do.
One article stated that the pastor owned a vacant lot next door which was used for parking.
Those days may be coming, conducting interstate commerce in one's home. There may be some arcane regulation some power-mad bureaucrat put in to find a way to tax us some more and at the same time, discourage independent entrepreneurs from daring to make some money on the side.
I put nothing past government anymore.
Oh my word.
The vacant lot used as a parking lot sounds like a legitimate violation of zoning regulations, which would apply to anyone, regardless of what sort of meetings they were holding in their home.
If the code enforcement officer actually posed the specific questions quoted, he may have just been trying to establish which of various types of “assemblies” defined in the local code, was actually occurring here. The fact that the citation offered the option of “obtaining a major use permit”, as opposed to just a flat-out order to stop the assemblies, may have been due to the officer’s having estalished that it was in fact a religious type of assembly. Many zoning codes for residential areas allow permits to be issued for certain types of nonresidential uses that are not incompatible with a residential neighborhood, but don’t allow other types of nonresidential uses. Schools and religious organizations are often the only exceptions to the “residential” use of the area. If you want to set up a center to run training and motivational meetings for a multi-level marketing outfit, or to serve as a headquarters for political canvassers, you’re out of luck.
I’m not so sure the government shouldn’t have prevailed on this one. What happens when the local Amway zealot decides he is now free to buy the vacant lot next to his home, and fill it up on a regular basis with the targets of his recruiting efforts?
See my post at #12. It may have been a legitmate attempt to discover if the homeowners were eligible to apply for a "major use permit", or if they were holding some other kind of meetings that were ineligible for such a permit under the residential zoning of the area.
I think it's reasonable to assume that the appearance of the code enforcement officer in the first place was the result of a nearby resident's complaint about a use of the property that did not appear to be consistent with the zoning regulations, and that the complaining resident was annoyed by the large number of cars, and not by the content of the meetings (which would not have been discernable to non-participants, unless conducted at an outrageously loud volume).
According to the pastor there were six cars. Also note that the county did not mention parking for about two months, until the outcry developed and they dropped it. It was about religion, and that was the ordinance the county was enforcing. NO mention of parking at all. Here is the citation, see what it says: http://www.wclplaw.org/news/Citation.pdf
Garage sales are next
No, the county was enforcing an ordinance that ALLOWS religious uses of property in areas zoned for residential use, but requires a permit for such use. That’s why the citation mentioned the option of obtaining a “major use permit”. If the assemblies in question had not been of a type for which major use permits may be issued in a residential-zoned area, then the option of seeking a permit would not have been available. Normally, religious, educational, and daycare uses are allowed by permit in residential areas, while most other nonresidential uses are not allowed at all.
If a lcoal Muslim group wants to start running weekly Koran study meetings on my block, large enough to cause them to buy a vacant lot on the block and use it for parking for the meetings, I sure as heck DO want them to be required to apply for a permit, and go through a public hearing process which would allow neighbors to express their concerns, and provide for specific limitations to be attached to any permit granted (such as number of cars, number of meetings per month, etc). And if their attorney starting spouting off about how they go ahead with the meetings without a permit because they should “obey Allah, not man”, I’d be showing up at the public hearing to argue against the permit being issued at all on the grounds that they were evidencing an intention not to abide by any limitations attached to the permit.
Garage/yard sales are already restricted in many areas. Few jurisdictions require a permit; more often there’s just a limit on frequency and or on hours of operation (e.g. not before 8AM). I’ve seen areas where there’s no such restriction, and some of the locals routinely pile junk all over their front yards every single weekend, trying to raise a few bucks (often for booze and drugs).
You must be a statist or the president of some HOA.
What happens when the local Amway zealot decides he is now free to buy the vacant lot next to his home, and fill it up on a regular basis with the targets of his recruiting efforts?
Quick, Squelch it!
BTW Amway is a business and as such it is regulated by business codes. A bible study is not a business, but a gathering of people for the purpose of the free exercise of religion and free speech. The government had no compelling interest which could work to shut down this bible study. None. Not even the rights of busybodies to be busybodies is sufficient to squelch the free exercise of religion.
There is no "special use" of the property involved with this at all. Friends come for dinner, you sit and discuss the bible - how is that any different than discussing football? Would you need a permit if you were discussing football?
When a distinction is made because you were discussing the bible instead of football - that is religious persecution, plain and simple.
Or down main street as the case may be.
They certainly shouldn't, but why let the stupid Constitution get in the way of a few mindless bureaucrats? Wishing to control our very faith, one of the Communist goals by the way.
More likely it was to intimidate people in order to encourage them from worshiping their God.
Maybe the Government cold go look for a few Islamic, home koranic studies, but they probably would not be found in violation, because they don't, say Amen or Jesus, or Praise the Lord.
“But if she had 15 cars parked in front of her house . . . “
Fifteen people total. Not likely 15 cars out front. Did each person there drive an individual car? Two were the home-owners (pastor and wife). Some may have walked in.
I could be wrong. I haven’t seen a published figure on how many cars were connected to that prayer meeting.
Neverthelesss, I doubt that car quantity was the REAL issue.
“If the code enforcement officer actually posed the specific questions quoted, he may have just been trying to establish which of various types of assemblies defined in the local code, was actually occurring here. “
It would be legitimate, it seems, to ask the code enforcer in question to put in an afidavit his reasons for asking those questions.
The issue is the regularly scheduled activities bringing a large number of cars to the neighborhood, and the use of a vacant lot as a parking lot in a residentially-zoned area. As I noted before, most jurisdictions have specific, permit-requiring exceptions for religious and educational uses in residential-zoned locations — I don’t see anyone here complaining about the special *privileges* accorded to religious and educational groups, so it’s hypocritical to complain about limits and requirements placed on those special privileges. Local laws and regulations govern what the criteria are for triggering violations of a residential zoning code. If local residents don’t like those criteria, they should pressure their local politicians to change them, and if that doesn’t work, vote out the current set of polticians and get new ones.
The fact is that the overwhelming majority of property owners in residential areas DO want restrictions on activities that regularly attract numbers of cars and people that are not consistent with residential use of a property. These restrictions catch a lot of different uses, all of which *somebody* thinks they should be free to undertake, e.g. the practice of renting rooms in a single family homes to large numbers of laborers on an 8 hour shift basis, for sleeping. The zoning codes cannot discriminate between activities based on specific religious beliefs, but courts have routinely upheld permit requirements for religious and educational property uses in residential-zoned areas.
What’s lacking here is any evidence that the specific religious beliefs of the group in question was a factor in the citation. And there may well be more information that we don’t have, such as advertising of the meetings at the church, a pattern of increasing numbers of attendees, etc. I don’t buy that these regularly scheduled meetings were simply the pastor’s “friends”. If a Muslim imam moves into the neigborhood, and starts have a dozen or more of his “friends” from the mosque appear at his home for weekly Koran study meetings, I fully expect that a virtually identical investigation and citation would follow. Again, if the local residents wish to allow this sort of property use in their residential-zoned neighborhoods, without any permit requirements or other restrictions, they should use the political process to change the zoning regulations. And if the pastor wishes to hold regular religious meetings in his home, he should move to a mixed-use zoning area where this won’t be a problem.
Given that the pastor had purchased an adjacent vacant lot and was using it as parking lot for these meetings, I think there’s pretty strong evidence that the car quantity WAS the real issue. I think we can safely assume that nobody else in the neighborhood was maintaining a vacant lot for use as parking lot in conjunction with meetings of any kind being held in their homes.
So he had a vacant lot with what . . . six or seven cars on it. Big deal.
I own a 1/3 acre grassed lot next to my house. Vegetable garden there. It has two out buildings on skids (in our county those are not taxed), and a 26’ house trailer sits there. I have had as many as 20 cars on that lot when we’ve had meetings and the lot still looks mostly empty, certainly not cluttered.