Calif. City Changes Zoning Code to Allow Home Bible Study After Couple Was Fined

Stephanie and Chuck Fromm were initally fined $300 for holding Bible study sessions in their home. (Image source: Orange County Register)

San Juan Capistrano, Calif. city officials have voted to change their zoning code after a couple was fined $300 for holding home Bible study sessions, KCBS-TV reported.

Chuck and Stephanie Fromm were cited last year after authorities said they were in violation of municipal code 9-3.301, which bars “religious, fraternal or non-profit” gatherings of more than three people in residential neighborhoods without a costly permit. Stephanie held a weekly Bible study that drew about 20 people, while Chuck held a Sunday service that attracted about 50.

The Southern California city ultimately refunded the Fromms their fine after their story sparked a massive outcry, and on Tuesday the city council voted to change its code so that such home-based religious gatherings will not require permits.

According to KCBS, the change conforms with the California Building Code, which does not require permits for such gatherings with less than 50 participants.

“There is no reason why any family in the United States of America should have to worry about the government crashing their home Bible study or whatever meeting they’re having because of arduous rules and unreasonable restrictions,” Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, told the station. The Pacific Justice Institute had represented the Fromms in their appeal against the city.

“We only hope at this point that other cities and counties across the country can learn from this wonderful resolution by the city of San Juan Capistrano to not make the same mistake twice,” Dacus said.