San Diego County ordered a pastor to stop his in-home Bible Study until he applies for the proper major-use permits. Some folks are up in arms about this "persecution" of Christians and even Fox News (featuring Carrie Prejean, no less) jumped on the bandwagon.
I want to urge a little restraint. Can we do a little more research before jumping to conclusions?
A reasonable explanation was given by the County (read HERE) but it's been drowned out in all the blogosphere noise.
On a personal note, as a Southern California resident, I'd like to offer my thoughts:
Southern California is a densely populated area. For this reason, there are many fire-safety codes, zoning regulations and parking restrictions.
If 15 cars showed up at the same time each week in my neighborhood, it would easily become a nuisance and safety issue. I would probably talk to my neighbors about it and if that failed, I would probably file a nuisance complaint.
In Pastor Jones' case, when the County inspector asked: "do you say Amen?" it was an attempt to determine if the Bible Study would qualify as a regularly scheduled religious meeting. Yes, it sounds like a strange line of questioning, but I really don't think it was an attempt to persecute Christians. And like it or not, there are rules here about how you can use your land.
That said, I think the County could have handled it better. They
bungled their investigation and as a result, have a major PR problem on
As Americans we are guaranteed freedom of assembly. Does this mean we are free to assemble wherever we please no matter whom it affects? No. And as Christians, don't we have an even greater responsibility to proceed graciously, respectfully and mindfully in our neighborhoods and communities?
I think so.