I count myself an atheistic agnostic, and yet I find this troubling. I find it troubling because, strangely and ironically, the more extreme Christians and the atheists can both be victims of middle-of-the-road values.


To quote the article:


MISSION VIEJO (CBS) — An Orange County couple has been ordered to stop holding a Bible study in their home on the grounds that the meeting violates a city ordinance as a “church” and not as a private gathering.

Homeowners Chuck and Stephanie Fromm, of San Juan Capistrano, were fined $300 earlier this month for holding what city officials called “a regular gathering of more than three people”.

That type of meeting would require a conditional use permit as defined by the city, according to Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), the couple’s legal representation.

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That's crazy.  Does this mean poker night needs a permit from the city!? 

Poker might indeed be illegal in that city ... 

ridiculous! It is there home and as much as anyone may disagree they should have the right to have a bible study.

What is a "regular gathering"?


A yearly celebration of Junior's birthday?


Gardners coming every other week to weed and mow the lawn and tend to the flowers?


The Constitution guarantees the public the right to gather even in public. To regulate gatherings in private homes seems very clearly to me to be unconstitutional.

Do you all think this is a government conspiracy to prohibit threesomes, kids' birthday parties, poker nights. gardening?

And I am the one who is doing the overreacting, yeah right...

Seriously, this is pathetic.

Maybe it is an idea to first gather the facts and then do the judging, I don't know...



fined $300 earlier this month for holding what city officials called “a regular gathering of more than three people

By this standard, schools are churches, regular parties are religious ceremonies.... its just silly, who were they hurting by have a regular bible study group in their house? Why should anyone need a permit to have a regular meeting with another person (that's the husband, wife, and one additional)?

This has nothing at all to do with religion. It is government and taxation. What do you think the conditional use permit costs. It certainly isnt free. If they manage to squeek this by, think of the money to be made. A reqular meeting of more than thre people applies to boy scouts, tailgate parties, etc.

I was thinking the same thing. A neighbor probably complained about the parking or something similar.

As a former "grass Nazi" for a community management company, I can attest that one of the major factors is street access.  Picture 50 or 60 people gathering in a residential neighborhood, most arriving as couples.  That puts 25 to 30 cars being parked up and down the street.  It makes neighbors really angry to have strangers parking in front of their homes, and if emergency vehicles are unable to get by, it creates a hazard.

I was not aware that there was a dearth of Churches in which such meetings could take place. Usually there is a reason city ordinances are in place, and I would certainly react if my neighbor insisted on having psalm singing, prayer chanting etc a few times a week in their adjoining back yard.

Seems like a massive storm in a water glass..

That's so stupid.  I would love for the religious to give up their faith on their on free will, but this is bullying.  I'm not sure if this has anything to do with atheism.  It's more likely someone's misguided attempt at political correctness, a over enthusiastic bureaucrat, someone trying to show off power, or any combination of the 3.  Either way it's an infringement on their rights and I think they should contact the ACLU.  

I also agree with some of the other commenters, I think there are a lot of atheists that disagree with this and would gladly stand up for them.

**edit:  I wrote this before getting all the facts.  It sounds like it could have been genuinely disturbing the neighbours.  I think the city officials may have just been doing their jobs.


I don't find this troubling at all. The issue here is that homeowners in a residential area are running a large organization out of their home when the law clearly states that such meetings in this area require a permit. As for the definition of "a regular gathering of more than 3 people" well that sounds like something the homeowners "claim" a city official said but the law doesn't state that and 50+ people meeting twice a week in a residential area is certainly not the same as having a few friends over for Sunday brunch or throwing a birthday party once a year. I'm sure the number of members in this organization has been (and will keep) growing if the neighbors don't say anything. If these were my neighbors, I would have issued a complaint as well, particularly if there are cars blocking streets as some articles on this subject claim has been an issue.


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