Is this really America?

I would really like to believe that this is satirical… that it’s attempting to make some larger point that I’m simply missing:

Times-of-Idiocy 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.

The Fromms also reportedly face subsequent fines of $500 per meeting for any further “religious gatherings” in their home, according to PJI.

“We’re just gathering and enjoying each other’s company and fellowship. And we enjoy studying God’s word.” Stephanie Fromm told CBS2.

After city officials rejected the Fromms’ appeal, PJI, which represents other Bible study participants, will appeal the decision to the California Superior Court in Orange County.

“This is also about a city trying to get a family to pay fees – to pay fees and pay money to them – just to be able to have friends over to read the Bible,” attorney Brad Dacus of PJI told CBS2.

Neighbors have written letters to the city in support of the Fromms, whom they said have not caused any disturbances with the meetings, according to PJI.

Nothing justifies this.  Nothing.  And to suggest that this is in some way rational and reasonable is to affix and seal the label radical idiot on the forehead of the one making the suggestion.

I find it hard to believe that this is happening in America.

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  • jim_m

    We can build a mosque at Ground Zero to celebrate the 19 terrorists that killed 3000 Americans but Christians cannot meet in their friends in their own homes.

    This is the America that the left wants.

    • Oh no it’s not! Not what I as a liberal want or any one I know. I don’t know where you get that idea, but this city is violating their First Amendment rights to peaceably assemble and free exercise of religion and maybe their Fourth Amendment right to be secure in their home.And actually it’s a Muslim community center with a prayer room,(remember the First Amendment covers all faiths,) a couple of blocks from the site of the 9/11 crime scene.

      • jim_m

        Did I say they didn’t have a right to build a mosque? I don’t think so, so don’t put words in my mouth.

        But the mosque was originally a triumphalist act and when the word got out they shut up about their intent and where their funding came from.

        The real issue is whether placing it there is an act of good faith. It is not. it does nothing more than promote ill will and animosity and it is calculated to do so. Sure they have a right to build but their revised public reasons for building are at odds with the results.

        And if you don’t like people saying that the left is anti christian you had better start standing up to all the anti christian bigots on the left. While the numbers of people here are large there have been many other cases where meetings of less than a dozen people were banned by ignorant public officials.

        The left hardly ever hesitates to criticize christian beliefs or values, but you won’t see them criticizing muslims. People notice that. It’s painfully obvious.

        • Sheik Yur Bouty

          Her comment makes the phrase “useful idiot” really hit home…

  • Anonymous

    So would my wife and her friends would be okay.  SIX gather at the house once a week to chat and knit for about 3 hours.

    Another city wasting taxpayer dollars to defend some council persons ego.

    And whoever turned them in needs to get a life.

    • Anonymous

      Nah, see above.  I think there is a little more to this.  Read all of his site and think about it.

  • herddog505

    The only excuse I can think of is if the people are blocking the public roads or otherwise making a nuisance of themselves.  Based on the fact that neighbors have written letters of support for the Fromms, I have to think that they and their friends have not done so.

    The Fromms should sue over their religious liberties being violated.  Wait… Does the Constitution still apply to anything other than passing out welfare checks any more?

    • Anonymous

      The city requires a conditional use permit for religious or business use of residential homes, a very common and established process across America.  The Fromm’s have repeatedly refused to apply for a permit, and are basically challenging the city to take them to court.  The city has slowly and deliberately escalated their attempts at enforcement over the past year.  BTW, Mr F runs a business and publication related to religion.  He’s getting tons of publicity, for free, right now.  Waddaya think of that?

      • herddog505

        DocEpadorThe city requires a conditional use permit for religious or business use of residential homes… [emphasis mine – hd505]

        So long as people are not creating a public hazard or nuisance, what they do in their own homes is none of the government’s business.

        It seems to me that the city of San Juan Capistrano, whether intentionally or not, has found a neat way to limit religious freedom without limiting religious freedom.  Perhaps for their next magical trick the city government can require a conditional use permit for sleeping, cooking, washing, and eating in residential homes.

        • Anonymous

          Again, look at the particulars here.  Large numbers of people, not a dozen, are congregating at the private home in a small cul de sac with minimal street size and parking 2-3 times a week for “Bible Study” at the home of a man who runs a a plethora of print and music religious businesses. 

           He has allied with the Pacific Justice Institute (an evangelical version of the ACLU).  This confrontation with the city appears to have been carefully designed and orchestrated to publicly challenge the zoning and permit process.  The current media and internet blitz is not by accident.  

          This is not aimed at the man because its Bible Study at home, but because it is a large congregation of people on a regular basis in a residential neighborhood.  If indeed there is a small crowd of folks parking and clogging the small streets there, it is a potential hazard to emergency vehicle access as well as a nuisance to other residents.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bible study groups utilize his publications as part of their worship, which would make this as much a business operation as religious observation.  

          At any rate, he’s a famous guy and a rich guy, and he is purposefully thumbing his nose at the local government.  I’d want to know a whole lot more about the particulars before I’d jump on this bandwagon, as attractive as the battle slogans are.  

          This might not be that much different than the Hope and Change campaign, and you all don’t seem to have much trouble seeing through that.  I still think he’s being a media whore.

          • herddog505

            No story that I’ve seen (so far) indicates that there has been any sort of complaint from the neighbors about blocking the streets, taking up parking, or any other nuisance.  Indeed, at least some neighbors have written in support.

            If the people going to Bible study are blocking the streets, then the city has a right to ticket them or tow their cars.  In my view, the city has NOT got a right to tell the Fromms how they may use their property so long as the Fromms are not creating a public nuisance or public hazard.

            As for Fromm being a media whore, I suggest an alternate explanation:

            Fromm is presumably a very devout man.  As such, it’s reasonable to assume that he’s very into freedom of religion (or, at least, freedom of HIS religion).  He regards the city’s actions as a violation of that freedom.  He has the will and the means to very publicly protest.  He’s gotten a lawyer.  He’s gone to the press.

            You don’t fight city hall by being meek and quiet about it.

          • jim_m

            Sorry Doc, the city is telling them they have to make the house handicapped accessible as well as ordering them to comply with other rules as though they were an incorporated business. The number of people is really not at issue.  They have one neighbor who has complained.  They have taken actions to mitigate any inconvenience and they make sure that no one parks in front of that neighbor’s house so parking is not an issue. 

            The problem comes in that the city is fining a private citizen under an ordinance that is specifically designed for incorporated entities such as churches and fraternal orders, etc. The city claims up to 50 persons but there is no mention of what the actual numbers are or what the average is.  Since the “50 people” is a claim from the city attorney that has yet to be substantiated I think that we should be careful in taking it as the (ahem) gospel truth. 

            Also we should recognize that the city is only trying to enforce this rule because they have had the one complaint.  There could be other instances where this ordinance is being ‘violated” but it is not being enforced.  That puts the city on very shaky ground legally. 

            Let’s also face the fact that the city itself is running serious deficits and this action would mean $1000 per week in revenue.  There are any number of legal organizations that specialize in these cases and my guess would be that the city will be spanked in court.  Given the financial straights the city is in they cannot afford a protracted legal battle.

          • jim_m

            I would disagree with the characterization that this was some kind of planned confrontation by Fromm.  These studies have been going on in one form or another since 2006.  Only this year did it become an issue.  The meetings are only twice a week (not 3 as you said) and the city is not being reasonable in its demands. 

            In applying for a conditional use permit the city can demand that the Fromms do engineering and traffic studies, submit architectural designs and the city can demand seismic
            retrofits. The Fromms would have to hold public hearings and the permit can still be denied outright or
            granted with severe limitations.

            This is not get a permit because you’re having a party and it creates parking issues.  This is the government deciding that one family’s personal life needs to be regulated by the government and their personal behavior will be subject to the whim of local bureaucrats.

            Frankly, I don’t care if Fromm is a complete a-hole.  The city has no business doing this and they are going to lose a very expensive court battle.

  • Anonymous

    Well, the city claims up to 50 people meet there twice a week.  That is starting to get to the nuisance phase in a single family dwelling neighborhood.  While a number of neighbors are reported to have written supporting the family, all it takes in one complaint to set the city into action.  Google their address and look at the satellite picture – it looks like a VERY upscale development, their home is at the end of a short cul de sac, so there isn’t much parking.  

    Read his web site:
    and you’ll see this has been going on for a while, with the city trying to get them to make a conditional use permit application and the Fromm’s refusing, instead paying fines starting at $100 and escalating from there.

    I’d say he’s courting the media for business purposes.

    Rick, I am afraid you are pimping for a media whore.

  • retired.military

    I guess you need a city permit to play 4 handed bridge, pinnochle or have a friendly poker game.
    Your kids want friends over?  Got to have a city permit. 

    I would call the city up day and night every time I saw more than 3 people together and report them for not having a permit.

    • Anonymous

      If you were Charles Goren and having a 12 table duplicate bridge club meet at your house two to three times a week in that neighborhood you’d likely have gotten the attention of the city too.  Note that the meetings at the home escalated during renovation of a “clubhouse” which implies that the groups had been meeting in a much larger facility designed and zoned for large numbers of people.   

  • Anonymous

    Its the same ol’ progressive-crap mentality that requires braille on the drive-thru ATM keys, and shuts down a little girl’s lemonade stand cause she didn’t pay protection money to the municipality. 

    Its time to take our country back!

    Semper Fidelis-

    • Anonymous

      The reason there is braille on the drive-thru ATM keys is not a “progressive-crap mentality” thing.
      It’s a ‘smart business decision” thing by the manufacturer of the ATM. He could produce two keyboards, one with braille, one without. Instead he chose to cut his costs and produce a single model.

      • Anonymous

        … so how does a blind person tell the difference between a dispensed 1$ and a 20$?  Or do they do it 1$ at a time? (while the rest of us in line wait).  Its still feel good progressive-crap IMHO, cause they could always just step inside and ask a teller for assistance.  

        • Anonymous

          1. The ATMs at my bank only dispense $20 dollar bills. I’m not sure where you found on that dispenses $1s.
          2. Getting cash is not the only function of an ATM. They can also be used to make deposits.
          3. Tellers are only available during “Banker’s Hours”.

          There may be many examples of what you call “progressive-crap mentality”, but I don’t consider this to be one.

        • Anonymous

          Ever see deposit slips in Braille?  How bout checks?  Or a braille LED interface screen that walks the ATM user through the transaction since they can’t read?  (Do you want a Receipt – Yes or No?). Now them braille keys are  at the drive-thru too.  Come on Rancefrayger – everything has a cost, and so you got that part right – but think it through – its still do-gooder crap!

          • Anonymous

            This kinda mentality was also expressed by our President, when he said those “ATMs and Ticket Kiosk are a valid excuse to blame for our high unemployment.”  Sure its a take from a different direction than Braille… but its still the same shallow-thinking mind-bending progressive crap!

          • Anonymous

            Rancefrayger – Just so you know, I’m a veteran with a 90% disability rating from the VA, so I see all around me the disconnect between the good intentions of the ADA and reality.  Braille keys on ATMs don’t do a damn thing for the truly blind… but it does make the do-gooders feel like they have done something worthwhile.  So the road to hell is paved with good intentions (and their cost); while the actual results of it have noting to do with real improvements in “quality of life.”  

            Want more examples of FUBAR Government?  I got hundreds of em, if you’d like to continue the discussion off-line.

            Semper Fidelis-

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    Well, we know the cancer..The dichotomy of being at war with ones self while being totally un-awakened to that fact ( see spongeboob ) It  has and will continue to destroy millions a day.  These sicko’s have no clue that they’re in trance. ( see spongeesorb )  They have pushed too far and will continue to incite violence to assuage their collective lack of intellect. (see spongecrab raceprefab )..

    Barry is the ultimate failure of liberal man made solutions.. Heavy on presentation. Zero in substance.

    Right spooncraft?

  • Anonymous

    Am I blaming liberals for abortion and other ills of the world?  No…No I’m not..  Misquote me again pussface.

  • It is really not possible to comment intelligently on this case without having observed the actual meetings nights from the street level.  “Up to 50 people” might come in as few as a dozen vehicles, several of which might be parked on the host property, and only a few on the street.  Bible study/church service attendees don’t tend to be a rowdy crowd, what is the problem?  But if there is a problem which interferes with the neighbors’ quiet enjoyment of their own property, that’s what zoning regulations are for.

  • Anonymous

    Note to all trolls:  See, we can disagree and politely debate an issue here.

  • Anonymous

    Concur with Adjoran.  What is the impact on the neighbors?  What is the impact on publc property? If the twice-weekly gathering reaches a point where it’s no longer a small, private gathering of friends but is instead a larger meeting, then the city starts to have a case.

  • Anonymous

    Actually this reminds me of:
    First they came for the handicapped and I did nothing.
    Then they came after the polish and I did nothing.
    Then they came after the Jews and I did nothing.
    Then they came after me.

    I don’t care what your religious belief is, this is an intrusion by government. At most, the local Homeowners Association should be handling this through the deed restrictions convenent. It is obvious the city has an axe to grind. Whatever it is, it is not a legitimate use of their power. We should all be offended at this treatment. ww

  • Normally a Bible study in a private residence does not take place on Sunday mornings because that is when the participants attend church.

    So, I would ask the Fromm family why they are having a Bible study on Sunday mornings.  They may have a constitutional right to have a large Bible study in their home (and I believe that they do have that right). However, from a religious perspective, something about the Fromm case doesn’t seem right to me.

    • Anonymous

      Mr. Robertson,

      I wouldn’t ask the Fromm’s boo… as its none of my business what they do in their home together – be it bible study – or an orgy.  I could care less… and its none of your business, and its none of the municipalities business either.  It takes a real nosy busybody to judge how, when, and where someone else should worship (if at all… or even if that is whats really going on over there in the privacy of someone else’s home). Your neighbors are at liberty to come together and associate or worship as they please. 

      Which is the whole dang point!  

      Just cause other busybodies passed an ordinance doesn’t make it just, right, or even constitutional  (as in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – ever hear of that somewhere?)   Mindless bureaucrats can threaten fines and can point to their stupid rules, regulations, and local laws as their authority all they want… but the truth is, it is only you who can voluntarily waive your freedoms and constitutional rights away.

      If the Fromm’s decide to affirm theirs, they will teach this municipality and their mindless bureaucrats a very poignant lesson in constitutional law …. as them busybodies will find out in short order just how unacceptably wrong, un-american, and un-constitutional their intrusiveness really is.  

      Semper Fidelis-