San Diego County officials have agreed to rescind a cease-and-desist order issued to a pastor who held a small Bible study in his home, apologizing for intrusive questions about the meetings.
Pastor David Jones had held a Bible study in his Bonita, California house for the past five years for about fifteen people. After a visiting friend of a neighbor filed a complaint about parking overflow, county officials questioned the pastor’s wife about the nature of the meetings, asking whether participants said “Amen” or “Praise the Lord.”
The pastor and other critics thought the questions were intrusive and inappropriate, while county officials justified the inquiries on the grounds the county needed to determine whether the meetings violated zoning ordinances.
On Wednesday the county’s chief administrative officer wrote a letter to Pastor Jones apologizing for the incident, saying that a cease-and-desist order was wrongfully issued. The letter also said that the county would conduct a thorough review of its assembly ordinances and code enforcement officer training.
Dean Broyles, president of the Western Center for Law & Policy, said that Christians should not be punished “simply for holding a Bible in their home.” He added, “we are very encouraged by the county’s response and their commitment to immediate corrective action.”
“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 stated.