Monday, March 22, 2010

In-Home Bible Studies Outlawed in Gilbert, Arizona

In November, 2009, city officials in Gilbert, Arizona sent a “cease and desist” order to a pastor and his wife holding small group in-home Bible studies.

According to a Gilbert city law, assemblies of religious groups and private schools are not allowed in private homes. Reasons such as the city’s Land Development Code, zoning, building and parking codes are being cited.

The Bible study group, from Oasis of Truth Church, consists of seven people. The Church holds Sunday services at a school.

This month, attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) filed an appeal on behalf of the church group.

According to World Net Daily, spokespeople from ADF said the law doesn’t prevent Cub Scouts meetings, Monday Night Football parties with numerous attendees or large business parties from being held regularly in private homes.

KTAR.com news radio in Phoenix carried a statement from Senior ADF legal counsel Douglas Napier. Napier said the group was not cited for any specific ordinance violation; there were no neighborhood complaints and no traffic violations.

In an ADF Press Release, Litigation Counsel Daniel Blomberg stated, “Christian church groups shouldn’t be singled out for discrimination and banned from meeting in their own homes.”

Attorneys from ADF will appeal by using the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment Free Exercise and Freedom of Speech clause, alongside Arizona’s own Free Exercise of Religion Act (FERA). They will argue that the town’s zoning code doesn’t authorize banning in-home church gatherings while other groups are approved.

Both World Net Daily and KTAR report that in responses from the city, the town council does find the ordinance troubling and has scheduled it for review at a council meeting.

Because of misunderstandings about the First Amendment among city officials, and the mythical phrase “separation of church and state” which doesn’t exist, incidents like this have been occurring around the country for some time.

For additional information and links on this in-home Bible studies restriction, see a more detailed version of this article here at The Underground Online Magazine. Sheryl Young, author of this 20-20 Faith Sight blog, is a regular contributor to The Underground.

2 comments:

Neil March 29, 2012 at 4:35 PM  

Now that this country has begun to turn and make itself an enemy of the children of God, it cannot long endure. God deems it just to afflict those who afflict His children, but no one except God's child discerns His growing wrath behind the present and continuing afflictions of the United States of America.

Sheryl March 29, 2012 at 6:00 PM  

Thanks, Neil. I agree.

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