Monday, June 01, 2009

Christians and PZC committees

Here's a story about a couple in San Diego who were busted for having a 15-person Bible Study in their house. Why? It's against local zoning laws. Now, I see this as overzealous zoning enforcement rather than any sort of religious persecution, but it did remind me of something a friend told me.

He's a pastor currently planting a new church. He says that in the early days, Christians faced lions, but now they face Planning and Zoning Committees... and he's not sure which is worse. At least with the lions it doesn't take that long.


K T Cat said...

When I was in junior high, decades ago, our CCD classes were held in someone's house. What's the big deal?

nick said...

i think it boiled down to parking issues and neighbors who choose a bad route to remedy the situation. Im sure if could have been resolved if they simply sat down and attempted to work out a compromise.

Corey said...

Seems to be an appropriate application of zoning regs to me. (The comment stream on the news article is absolutely hilarious.)

Even a small gathering (say 20 people) on a Sunday morning can be disruptive to a community. I suspect that Attorney Broyles' account of the "interrogation" isn't a true transcription of the conversation:
"The county asked, 'Do you have a regular meeting in your home?' She said, 'Yes.' 'Do you say amen?' 'Yes.' 'Do you pray?' 'Yes.' 'Do you say praise the Lord?' 'Yes.'" Reading between the lines, it looks like they were asking the couple: Do you have music, cheers, and other activities that may disrupt your neighbors.

My neighbor's 1st amendment right to speech and religion end at my property boundary. I don't want to be woken up by a worship service in the house next door. This is why we have zoning regulations. The municipality charges fees for the permit so that a proper impact assessment may be made.

I agree with Nick... In a healthy neighborhood, you should be able to communicate the concern to your neighbor and negotiate a mutually satisfying compromise. "Golly Brad, as much as I like Bringing in the Sheaves, your service is really disruptive to my family. Can you move "

Of course, it's also been my experience that some true believers refuse to compromise. Just on the basis of the stuff in that article, I suspect that these folks are of that camp. But maybe not.

Brad Wright said...

I've heard of various house churches that went around the neighborhood to ask people if they mind the meetings.

Still... we host a weekly Bible Study of about 12 people, and it's never occurred to me that it might be a problem for anybody.

Corey said...

I would guess that few home-based worship groups are disruptive to neighbors. Even fewer people would complain about a church meeting at someone's home, if the church is not being disruptive. I have a few friends who started churches in their homes and they never had neighbors complain.

But, when a homeowner sponsors *any* event that disrupts the neighborhood, that's a problem. In my view, a Sunday morning Sunrise service with loud singing, clapping, or praising is just as annoying as the neighbor kids throwing a kegger on a Saturday night when their parents are out of town.

Do your Bible Studies get wild Brad? (Who knows, I might be inclined to show up at a Wild bible study...)

Brad Wright said...

No, not too wild. Mainly stay up too late joking around (probably my influence there)

Scott said...

For an interesting view of this look at

Knumb said...

Of course, there aren't many houses on your street, Brad, and they are pretty well spaced. Some of these master-planned communities like Ladera Ranch out here in OC are so tight, there's room for one car in front of each house (houses that peaked over $700K a few years back).

File this under, "having solved all other problems, the city..." (sarcasism)

Brad Wright said...

Makes sense, John. Been awhile since I've lived in wall-to-wall housing. :-)

Corey said...

@Scott. Great link.