Over the past few years, a number of families have faced fines and other legal ramifications for hosting home Bible studies.
Recently, Michael Salman's case captured widespread attention (he was hosting large meetings in a building on his property and was inevitably imprisoned after failing to comply with zoning regulations). Then, there was a family that was fined in San Juan Capistrano, California, for hosting a Bible study without a permit (a situation that was inevitably amended, with the city changing its code).
Now, there's yet another case -- this time involving a Florida family -- that is capturing headlines. Like the aforementioned cases, Shane and Marlen Roessiger, of Venice, are being held accountable for hosting weekly, Friday night home Bible study meetings that include as many as 10 participants.
The cost of their zoning violation amounts to $250 per day. In addition to holding the home studies, the Roessiger family is also under fire for posting a small sign in their front yard. It reads, "Need Prayer (941) 484-4915." The husband and wife, though, aren't taking the city's response to their home Bible studies and personal yard sign without fighting back.
"It is difficult to understand how it is illegal to have a prayer meeting on Friday night with a half dozen people but it is alright if I invited the same group on Monday evening to watch Monday night Football," Shane said in an interview with Fox News Radio.
The family has sought assistance from The Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative legal firm. Brad Dacus, president of the group, is speaking out in defense of the Roessigers.
"It’s a weekly Bible study. It’s the same kind of Bible study that occurs in households across America," Dacus said in an interview with Fox News. "They are having a specific problem with this family solely because they are having family and friends over to read the Bible and pray. That may be fine in some tyrannical parts of the world. That is not okay in the United States of America."
Pam Johnson, a spokesperson for the City of Venice, defended the city in this case and confirmed the code violations. The specific issue at hand is whether the family has been using its home as a "house of worship."
“The Code Enforcement Board has continued both cases, although Mr. Roessiger was found guilty a few months ago of zoning violation (as it relates to land use),” Johnson said in her statement. “It has not been determined at this time if the use violation has been abated. No determination of guilt has been made for the sign issue because the case is continued.”
(H/T: Fox News Radio)