Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In a change of heart, San Juan Capistrano to protect Bible Studies

Posted by CotoBlogzz

Rancho Santa Margarita, CA -  San Juan Capistrano sparked national outrage after fining and threatening a home Bible study group.  Now, it has taken steps to prevent future conflicts, a  move some say, may become a model for cities across the country.

The City Council of San Juan Capistrano voted unanimously late Tuesday night to adopt changes to its zoning code, based on recommendations by Pacific Justice Institute.

Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) legal defense organization specializing in the defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties.

After PJI went to court earlier this year to defend the Fromm family, who had targeted by the City’s actions, the City reversed course and refunded the fines it had levied against the family and started a process to to amend its Municipal Code working with PJI.

PJI President Brad Dacus in a video,  praised the City for following PJI’s recommendations so that code enforcement officers will not seek to shut down small home Bible study groups in the future.

Dacus is also encouraging concerned citizens across the country to check with their local officials to make sure that home bible studies will be protected in their communities, offering free legal assistance to people of faith whose cities are hostile to their religious practice.

The changes adopted by San Juan Capistrano conform to the California Building Code, which does not apply church building standards to home-based groups with less than 50 attendees. As a result, small home-based religious groups in the city will be treated like similarly-sized secular gatherings and will not be required to get costly use permits

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