Allie Martin - OneNewsNow - 5/28/2009 1:40:00 PM
A San Diego pastor says county officials have told him he needs a permit to host a weekly Bible study in his home.
Pastor David Jones and his wife, Mary, were hosting the weekly study near their church, when they say they were visited by a county code enforcement officer.
According to Dean Broyles, an attorney for the Joneses, the county official asked the pastor if they hosted a regular weekly meeting in their home, and if they prayed and said "Amen" and "Praise the Lord" at those meetings.
After replying in the affirmative to those inquiries, a subsequent citation notified the couple they were in violation of county regulations, should stop "religious assembly," and needed to apply for a "major use" permit to continue the gatherings -- a process that could cost several thousands of dollars.
Jones, his wife, and their attorney, Dean Broyles, were interviewed on the Fox News Channel. Broyles says the couple's rights have been violated.
"The government may not prohibit the free exercise of religion," says the attorney. "And I believe that our Founding Fathers would roll over in their graves if they saw that here in the year 2009 that a pastor and his wife are being told that they can't have a simple Bible study in their own home."
The American Family Association has launched an online petition drive related to the incident, asking the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to immediately stop interfering with the rights of individuals to hold Bible studies in their homes.
Jones and his wife say they will continue to challenge the county's policy. About 15 people attend the weekly meetings.