Pastor Told No Home Bible Study Without Permit

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A weekly home Bible study in a San Diego neighborhood has sparked a bit of a battle between the county and the Bible study leader.
 
Dean Broyles is Pastor David Jones' attorney.

"If you did a survey of churches across San Diego County, you'd probably find hundreds if not thousands of home fellowship Bible studies," Broyles said.

A county inspector visted Jones' home last month after someone complained about the cars parked in the neighborhood for the Tuesday evening meetings. 

"'Did you say 'Amen?' And my wife said, 'Well, yes.' And she said, 'Did you say 'Praise the Lord'?' She said, 'Well, yes, but what does that have to do with it?' And that was the issue," Jones explained.
    
Following that meeting Jones says a county employee told them the Bible studies were a religious assembly and violated a county code.

He and his wife received a written warning for "unlawful use of land" warning them to "stop religious assembly" or "apply for a major use permit."
   
The permit could cost thousands for a small weekly Bible study of about 15 people.
    
Pastor Jones has met with county leaders and is prepared to fight.
    
American Center for Law and Justice attorney Larry Crain said Jones would not be the first.  

"This is an area where vigilance is required," Crain said. "You cannot allow city officials to based on political whim to curtail effective religious activity. And if you do so, it just emboldens them to do it in the future."

A county official has now told San Diego news reporters she doesn't care what the Jones' do inside their home.

"We want to make sure whether they're on a public road or a private road that they're parking safely; that we can get fire trucks in; that we can get police vehicles in."
    
Ironically it wasn't Jones' neighbors who called the county to complain about the Bible studies they have been hosting for the last five years.

"No, it hasn't created any problems at all," neighbor Natalia Valerdi said. "In fact, sometimes we have meetings as well."

Jones says it was someone visiting a neighbor who claimed a Bible study member hit his car while leaving. 

"He had told me he called the police, called three different departments, talked to them," Jones said.

And now the country is talking, wondering how this California Bible study battle will end and what it could mean for other home church meetings.

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