Calif. City Welcomes Swallows, Shuns Bible Study

Godfather Politics San Juan Capistrano has long been famous for its beauty, luxury homes and the annual return of thousands of swallows. The city’s leaders have used the return of the swallows to attract tourists and boost the city’s economy.

Today, this town of about 35,000 residents is making news that may deter some tourism and tarnish the city’s sparkling reputation.

Charles and Stephanie Fromm hold a weekly Bible study at their home. City officials told the couple that they need a specialized permit allowing regular public gatherings in their home. When the Fromm’s disagreed with the city and continued to hold the Bible study, they received a $300 fine from the city along with the threat of additional fines if they continue.

The city claims that the issue is not religious but has to do with traffic and parking in the residential area. In an email issued by city spokeswoman Cathy Salcedo, the issue isn’t religion but about when a residential area is changed into a place where people regularly meet.

Pacific Justice Institute has taken the case of the Fromm’s to the city and to the court system. Brad Dacus, attorney and president of Pacific Justice Institute says the city’s fine and requirement of a special permit is a form of religious persecution. He points out that there are over twenty other Bible studies in San Juan Capistrano, many of them being held in private homes.

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