A southern California family has been fined $300 for holding regular Bible studies in their home because it violates a city zoning code.
Charles and Stephanie Fromm of San Juan Capistrano were fined by the city for having more than 50 people in their home at a time for Bible studies, which the city claims impacts residential neighborhoods by limiting street access and parking, according to a statement from the Pacific Justice Institute.
When the couple appealed the fine, they were told they would receive subsequent charges if they continued to hold the Bible study without a conditional use permit, a specialized permit that allows regular gatherings of more than three people under prescribed circumstances.
The Pacific Justice Institute, a religious legal non-profit group, has taken up the case, arguing that the fine is a violation of the Fromms' religious freedom.
An informal gathering in a home cannot be treated with suspicion by the government, or worse than any other gathering of friends, just because it is religious. We cannot allow this to happen in America, and we will fight as long and as hard as it takes to restore this group's religious freedom, Brad Dacus, the president of the Pacific Justice Institute, said in a statement.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Dacus said the Fromms' should have their money returned. Moreover, he added that his organization intends to defend the family all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.