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Calif. City Plans to Refund Home Bible Study Fines


"We're not looking to head up a battle."

Remember the San Juan Capistrano, California couple that was fined $300 for holding Bible studies in their home? Well, after launching a legal appeal to challenge the city's regulations, it seems that a solution to the drama has been reached.

Here's the original story:

As you'll recall, Chuck and Stephanie Fromm were found to be in violation of municipal code 9-3.301. The code disallows "religious, fraternal or non-profit" organizations in residential neighborhoods from holding meetings without a permit. The family was hosting worship meetings that ranged in size from 20 to 50 people.

Now, two months after the Blaze first reported on the story, the Fromm family is dropping their appeal after the city agreed to reimburse the $300 in fines they paid as a result of holding the Bible studies (they were cited twice for their refusal to get a permit -- the first time for $100 and the second for $200). Additionally, officials have agreed to reassess the controversial regulations.

Following media coverage of the incident, the city received angry letters from people across the nation who stood in protest to the fines. The legal action taken by the family along with this mass response has apparently made a difference.

"We're not looking to head up a battle," Stephanie reiterated last week. "We're just so thankful they're willing to work with us for the good of all the community." Following the outcry, it seems the city is willing to do just that.

City Attorney Omar Sandoval said that the Bible studies were never a problem, but that the size of the gatherings caused the city to ask questions. "It was always a question of whether they were a church or not, and they were not," he said.

The Fromm family continues to hold Bible studies at their home and looks forward to the ordinance being changed. According to Sandoval, the city plans to be clearer about the regulations governing large gatherings in private homes.

Apparently, clarified rules would state that gatherings that occur less than once per week with fewer than 25 people would not need to apply for a conditional use permit. Other changes may follow.

(H/T: Urban Christian News)

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