San Diego County officials agreed Wednesday to rescind a cease-and-desist order issued to a pastor holding a small Bible study in his home. In a letter to the pastor, the county’s chief administrative officer apologized for the incident involving a code enforcement officer who issued the order after reportedly asking the pastor’s wife inappropriately probing questions about the study.
The letter informed Pastor David Jones and his legal counsel Dean Broyles, president of the Western Center for Law & Policy, an Alliance Defense Fund allied organization, that the order was wrongfully issued and that the county would conduct a thorough review of its assembly ordinances and code enforcement officer training.
“Christians should not be punished simply for holding a Bible study in their home, so we are very encouraged by the county’s response and their commitment to immediate corrective action,” said Broyles. “We look forward to working with the county to ensure that the clarification of its ordinances and training of its personnel are implemented promptly and efficiently so that all citizens of San Diego can be assured that their constitutional rights are protected, whether they’re holding Bible studies or hosting Boy Scout meetings.”
“We are confident that, as a result of the county’s statements, Bible studies and prayer meetings held in homes throughout San Diego County will be free from government regulation, as is guaranteed by the First Amendment,” Broyles added.
An average of 15 people attend the Jones’ small weekly Bible study. A code enforcement officer issued an Administrative Citation Warning and Cease and Desist Order after asking the pastor’s wife questions, such as “Do you have a regular meeting in your home?”, “Do you say ‘amen’?”, “Do you pray?”, and “Do you say ‘praise the Lord’?”
“The county has clearly responded in the right way to this incident so far, demonstrating a desire to protect the constitutional rights of this family,” said ADF Senior Counsel Joe Infranco. “We look forward to a positive outcome from its internal policy review.”
The Western Center for Law & Policy (www.wclplaw.org) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) legal defense organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties.
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