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California Town Fines Couple For Holding Bible Study In Their Home

San Juan Capistrano, a California town usually known for the Cliff Swallows that have returned to the old mission town nearly every year like clockwork, is making news today as the latest battleground in the war between zoning laws, property rights, and religious liberty:

The city of San Juan Capistrano has fined Charles and Stephanie Fromm $300 for their regular Bible study groups, according to a statement from the Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute.

The couple appealed the fine and was told subsequent fines would be enhanced if they continued holding the study group without a conditional use permit — a specialized permit allowing the activity under prescribed conditions, according to the statement.

City spokeswoman Cathy Salcedo declined to be interviewed by The Times. But in a brief email, she was emphatic the city does not prohibit home Bible studies.
Instead, the Fromms’ case, she wrote, is about when a residential area has been transformed into a place where people regularly assemble.

“The Fromm case further involves regular meetings on Sunday mornings and Thursday afternoons with up to 50 persons, with impacts on the residential neighborhood on street access and parking,” she wrote.

The Fromms could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

But Brad Dacus, an attorney and PJI president, said the Bible study groups create no parking problems on the Fromms’ semi-rural street, which has properties measuring more than an acre.

The city “needed some kind of rational basis to justify their rigid intolerance towards this family for having a Bible study in their home,” said Dacus, who added that he is acting as the Fromms’ spokesman.

Dacus said the city should refund the fine and apologize to the Fromms.

“This matter could be resolved very easily,” he said.

Otherwise, he said, PJI is “committed to defending this family’s home Bible study all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.”

In an interview with a local television station, the Fromm’s stated that they should be able to be hospitable in their own living room, but it’s fairly clear that what is involved here is the town’s attempt to apply a zoning ordinance involving gatherings of large groups of people to what they are doing here. It’s also arguably the case that the town is trying to force the Fromme’s to obtain a Conditional Use Permit in order to reap the revenue that would come from the same.At the same time, though, there are a lot of things that are unclear from the reports that have come out about this so far that could have a significant influence on the outcome of this case. For example, who are the people coming to these bi-weekly Bible Study groups that the Fromm’s are hosting? Are these family members, friends, members of the Fromm’s church? Are the Fromm’s charging for attendance? Is the Bible Study group really an informal unaffiliated church? The answers to these and other questions could determine if this is an informal gathering of friends or a what is effectively a home based business. If it’s the later, then I would argue that Zoning Laws designed to preserve the residential quality of neighborhood are not going to be invalidated merely because they are applied to religious organization so long as the law itself is neutral on its face. Based on the evidence available, though, this seems to be little more than an informal gathering of friends and acquaintances

As several bloggers have pointed out, such as Bruce McQuain and Bryan Preston,  this seems to be a pretty clear violation of the right of freedom of assembly protected in the First Amendment. Bryan points out:

It seems to me that regulating any regular gathering of “more than three people” has the potential to reach far too deeply into private lives. It could impact anything from a morning coffee klatch to a fantasy football league to a book club. For that matter, most families themselves have more than three people in them — will the city start fining families for meeting each night for dinner? There’s no indication that the city has come down on anything other than this home church. The question is why?

My guess is that there’s a neighbor out there with a particularly well-developed sense of busy-bodyness who has made it their life’s work to complain with the authorities every time one of these Bible Study events takes place. This is just a reminder that, when it comes to authoritarianism, government at the local level can be as oppressive and abusive as national governments. Sometimes even more so because of their ability to regulate ever smaller aspects of a person’s life. As the saying goes, there’s a lot more privacy in a big city then there is in a small town.

Rather than looking at this as a freedom of assembly matter, though, it occurs to me that this really boils down to a property rights issue. Unless they’re actually causing harm to someone else’s property or creating a public nuisance, it strikes me that the Frommes should be free to do whatever they wish in their home. Requiring them to go through the hassle and expense of getting a Conditional Use Permit just to hold Bible Study meetings in their home is a step too far, not because they’re studying the Bible, but because they are using their property as they see fir and not harming anyone else. There used to be a time when that meant something.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. When I read the words “regularly assemble” in the quoted piece, I also immediately thought of “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” To be fair, however, that particular clause was intended to allow people to petition the government, not to petition God.

    I suspect that if the Bible Study actually gets the conditional use permit, some other busybody will claim that this is an “establishment of religion” that should not be allowed…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  2. I am not entirely sure what to think about this (I read about it this morning and almost blogged it). On the one hand, it would seem as if one ought to be able to have people over to their house on a regular basis if they so choose. On the other, if my neighbor decides to start a church (or some other organization) in their house and there are regularly 25-50 people (or more) showing up, parking on the street and otherwise changing the character of my street, I think that violated my rights as a property owner.

    In other words: if the issue was simply one of assembly rights, it would be one thing, but we are talking about balancing rights, yes?

    Clearly I cannot have certain kinds of assemblies in my house on a regular basis. I cannot run a retail business out of it, for example.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  3. john personna says:

    Reminds me … I was getting this buzzing in my walls … couldn’t figure out what kind of machinery was in the neighborhood … until one day I noticed that my neighbors were having a Buddhist meeting of some sort, with (throat?) chanting.

    FWIW, I did not complain, did not try to drive them away. I was more amazed than anything.

    (If you don’t like zoning though, you can always move to Texas.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  4. MM says:

    Well, this is much more likely the government fining a couple because the neighbor complained that his driveway was blocked during one of these sessions. They were fined and they were holding bible study, but they were not fined BECAUSE they were holding bible study.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  5. EddieInCA says:

    I’m curious if you change “Bible Study” to “Having a Sex-Party” or “Having an Orgy” if the same people would be defending this family?

    If people want to have a bible-study in their home, and it doesn’t affect the neighbors, more power to them, and the government should leave them alone.

    And if a couple wants to invite 20 people to their home to screw the night (or weekend away), and they’re not bothering anyone nor affecting the neighborhood, they, too, should have that right, and the government should stay out of it.

    But if you’re not going to allow the sex-party that doesn’t interfere with the neighborhood, they you’d better not allow the bible-study.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  6. PD Shaw says:

    The town’s actions will have to face scrutiny under the federal Religious Land Use laws. Its not sufficient merely to conclude that the law applies to everyone the same, an additional test applies when using land use regulations against a religious activity.

    RLUIPA forces a city, in order to enforce a zoning or land use law against a religious entity, to carry the burden of persuasion that there is a compelling interest behind the law, and that the law is the least restrictive means of achieving that interest. Since these are difficult burdens to carry, the religious entity often wins in court, or at the very least has a potent legal weapon to wield against the city. And if the city loses, it is forced to pay attorneys’ fees for both parties

    Background

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. mattb says:

    It’s also arguably the case that the town is trying to force the Fromme’s to obtain a Conditional Use Permit in order to reap the revenue that would come from the same.

    This is one of the problems with the libertarian view point, Government is always seen as immediately adversarially trying to exploit someone without looking at the larger issues.

    I would also bet that this neighborhood has an anti House-Party law that is typically lightly enforced. That was the case here in our city where all the law-and-order types pushed for this type of legislation (not without good reason). Part of the reason was to cut down on unsanctioned “neigborhood party clubs” (which were a source of violence). And in order to make this work, it had to be all sorts of gatherings over a certain number of people (not just those that charge at the door) in part because there were other ways of recouping cost at these parties.

    But what also happened is that a number of other groups (like the on cited above) were affected by this law. That unfortunately is the nature of our legal system, it isn’t about justice it’s about fair application across the board. Pu a different way the issue — if there really is one — is to petition to have the law revised (or struck down) rather than starting to grant “common sense” waivers (especially as common sense is so uncommon).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. @mattb:

    This is one of the problems with the libertarian view point, Government is always seen as immediately adversarially trying to exploit someone without looking at the larger issues.

    I saw this take over at Hit and Run and had a similar response to yours. I don’t think this is a case of the city looking for cash. Heck, if they are trolling for money, just put a few squad cars out on the I-5 (or any surface in the area) and actually enforce the speed limit (having lived just north of San Juan, I can assure you that the speed limits are not strictly enforced) and they could get one heckuva a lot more revenue than targeting a random Bible study.

    Far more likely than any other possible explanation is that a neighbor (or neighbors) complained. Without that happening, it is rather unlikely that city ever would have known of the meeting in the first place.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  9. Terrye says:

    When my dad was growing up in Oklahoma back in the 20s there used to be traveling preachers who went from farm to farm to preach. They were revivals. And people would often go night after night to these gatherings. Bible study in people’s homes is not unusual. I can not imagine why people would make an issue of this.

    It is this sort of silliness that fuels a lot of the anti government rhetoric we hear every day.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  10. Terrye says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Years ago I read an Ann Landers column in which some lady had written to Ann to complain about her neighbor hanging clothes on a clothes line. She said it was like living in Dog Patch and she wanted to know what Ann advised her to do to deal with these hillbilly neighbors. The response was that if this woman could spend her time worrying about her neighbor’s clothes line..then obviously she had too much time on her hands. I think that is true of a lot of people these days. They have been trying to push zoning here where I live and the response has been hugely negative. People want nothing to do with it. They want to be left alone.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  11. @Terrye:

    This is one of the problems with the libertarian view point, Government is always seen as immediately adversarially trying to exploit someone without looking at the larger issues.

    Look, I’ve had Bible studies in my home. That is not the issue. The question would be is, as at least one piece I read on this story noted, that 50ish people are showing up weekly/biweekly (these events are on Sunday and Thursday) in a residential neighborhood. This could easy be a significant and regular inconvenience to the neighbors, whose rights are also relevant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  12. michael reynolds says:

    I’d be willing to bet the issue is parking. 50 people in southern California equals at least 40 cars, all trying to park close to this house. It would annoy me if I had to park two blocks away with my groceries. I also wouldn’t particularly appreciate the influx of strangers on a weekly basis.

    Like Eddie above I wonder how many people would defend a 50 person sex party or a frat party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  13. @Terrye: One can clearly be a busy-body. However, it is funny you should mention the clothes line, as I know that in that area of SoCal (at least in Mission Viejo) one is not allowed to have clothes lines.

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  14. @michael reynolds: Indeed. Even if we are talking couples, that is 25 cars at a minimum.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. Terrye says:

    @EddieInCA: The constitution clearly states that the government is not to hinder the free expression of religion. I would think it was obvious that there might be a difference between a sex party and a bible study group. At least to sane people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  16. @Terrye:

    The constitution clearly states that the government is not to hinder the free expression of religion

    It also clearly states that the government cannot prohibit free association…

    Having said that, there are things that can be prohibited. I cannot out a loud speaker on top of my house and broadcast religious messages to my neighbors.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  17. mattb says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Having said that, there are things that can be prohibited. I cannot out a loud speaker on top of my house and broadcast religious messages to my neighbors.

    Right. Further it’s not an issue of prohibiting but an issue of regulating. What can be said in a crowded theatre and commercials are both examples of regulated speech.

    The question would be is, as at least one piece I read on this story noted, that 50ish people are showing up weekly/biweekly (these events are on Sunday and Thursday) in a residential neighborhood. … is that a neighbor (or neighbors) complained. Without that happening, it is rather unlikely that city ever would have known of the meeting in the first place.

    Right! But once that neighbor complained the city had to follow its own ordinance, which has a history and a rational for being there. And at that point one has to deal with the “letter” of the law versus the “spirit” of it.

    Of course, seeing at which “letters” of law cause people to bristle tells you a lot about their political and ideological leanings. Further, it often seems like those who expect most letters to be followed to the letter often argue the loudest for exceptions in these cases.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. PD Shaw says:

    @michael reynolds: “Like Eddie above I wonder how many people would defend a 50 person sex party or a frat party.”

    If noise wasn’t an issue, the participants parked legally, and there was no commercial activity, I don’t believe the government has a legitimate role in controlling private use of residential property.

    That said, our government passed a law privileging religious activities (such as peyote), so the same rules don’t apply.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. WR says:

    @Terrye: What if it’s a Muslim prayer group? Are you still fighting for their rights?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  20. PD Shaw says:

    I myself wonder how many commentors rooted for Gladys Kravitz in the old t.v. show.

    Abner!!! I tell you there is something funny going on across the street.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. mattb says:

    @Terrye:

    They have been trying to push zoning here where I live and the response has been hugely negative. People want nothing to do with it. They want to be left alone.

    That’s the privilege of the suburbs. Things get really different once you’re talking about the city or a neigborhood that’s “in trouble” (i.e. poor/crime/drugs). It’s amazing how quickly zoning laws are enacted by people outside of the community for the “good” of the community,

    And again, I do think that good often comes out of zoning laws and their enforcement. But articles like this fail to consider the larger system in favor of a system of arbitrary justice (which seems great on the outside, but often isn’t applied equally across the board).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. @PD Shaw: Of course, Gladys was actually right: something funny was going on over there! ;)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. @PD Shaw:

    I don’t believe the government has a legitimate role in controlling private use of residential property.

    Yes, but these kinds of ordinances and zoning restrictions are focused on protecting the rights of other residents, not regulating what people are doing in their homes.

    If my neighbor constantly has 25-40 cars clogging my street every week, this can be a problem. What if every house on my street does the same thing?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  24. ponce says:

    I wonder how many wingnuts defending this couple opposed the ground zero mosque (which opened recently)?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  25. jan says:

    If this couple lived in a conventional city neighborhood, with small lots, then I could see impacted parking, noise, and general inconvenience being a problem. But, I believe Doug said that this was a semi-rural area with the lot size being around an acre. Having up to 50 people parking on this size of a lot would not normally have a negative impact on the neighborhood. We’ve had school functions, scouts, baseball teams, with more people than that at our home for functions and fund-raisers, without a problem.

    It would seem more plausible that there is an underlying reason for this being brought to the local government’s attention, such as a nosey neighbor, or even the city trying to maximize it’s revenue, and the like. Where I live in CA, traffic tickets to over-active building departments, the public sector is definitely more proactive in seeking to nail down any infraction possible in order to increase the money flow for struggling city coffers, which also serves to validate and reassure themselves of continued employment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  26. PD Shaw says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: If they are parked legally, I personally don’t see any problem.

    The fact that the lots in this area are the size of football fields suggests to me that any parking problems are more likely aesthetic than anything.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. qtip says:

    Back when I lived in LA, the local Korean church would have people park in front of my house every weekend and run a shuttle van to their church. They made quite a lot of noise…so it wasn’t just the loss of parking that was annoying.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. @PD Shaw and @jan:

    I did overlook the size of the lots (I was envisioning a typical SoCal nieghborhood, which usually has very small lots). The parking issue, still, would depend on the configuration of the houses and streets.

    Of course, knowing how much money a lot like that would cost in SJC, I expect that the neighbors are even more sensitive to having a neighbor have regular meetings in their homes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. qtip says:

    Jan, do you see a difference between your occasional events and regular twice-a-week events?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  30. MM says:

    @jan:

    Where I live in CA, traffic tickets to over-active building departments, the public sector is definitely more proactive in seeking to nail down any infraction possible in order to increase the money flow for struggling city coffers, which also serves to validate and reassure themselves of continued employment.

    The plural of anecdote is not data. And I have friends who have 1 acre lots and even assuming that the bulk of the lot can be parked on (and has unrestricted ingress and egress) and isn’t say, lawn, 25-40 vehicles is going to take up a lot of space. People are going to park in he street.

    Given the choice between a lazy Jesus-hating bureaucrat (who though lazy, seems to relish working nights and weekends for some reason) out for a $50 special use permit and/or furthering secular humanism and “annoyed neighbor”, I’m going with the latter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  31. samwide says:

    @Terrye:

    I would think it was obvious that there might be a difference between a sex party and a bible study group. At least to sane people

    I’ll second that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. Peterh says:

    I’m gonna go out on a limb and speculate that a particular church might have been the whistle-blower with a pastor that is connected to city hall…..churches, like any business, are protective of their revenue sources……I think the Fromm’s might have broke from their regular church and took a few with them……I just find it hard to believe that an Orange County city (and I live in this county) would fine a bible group based on a disgruntled neighbor….or two…..which would lead to Doug’s “informal unaffiliated church” thought…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. mike says:

    easy solution – sue the shit out of the city – probably cost you $100 to file a suit – represent yourself – go to the library to copy the forms – the city will spend $10,000s trying to defend an idiotic law and learn its lesson or it won’t – either way, they will learn not to mess with your bible study again. And if you want to have an orgy in your own home, have at that to – you shouldn’t need a permit for that either – just lots of condoms, disinfect, and a hose for afterwards.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  34. Terrye says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: They also said that these properties were semi rurual had about an acre of ground. Is there really evidence that the number of people who attend these meetings actually intrude upon anyone else’s property?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. Terrye says:

    @MM: We don’t really know how many vehicles are there do we? I know folks who belong to churches that have vans and when they have bible study groups they often use vans to transport people, especially older people. 50 people does not have to mean 25 to 40 vehicles.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. @Terrye:

    1) “Semi-rural” in Southern California is a lot more “semi” than “rural”

    and

    2) While 1 acre lots are big, they aren’t that big. Even if the house has a big driveway, the odds are that 25-40+ cars would mostly be on the street. Indeed, my previous home was on an acre lot and I had a long driveway, but at most you could get maybe 10 cars on it.

    As such, I have little doubt that parking was an issue.

    Moreover, lots that big in SJC mean houses well over a million dollars. People who buy into a neighborhood like that are likely to take umbrage at regular events being held at their neighbor’s home.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  37. @Terrye: If they are busing people in vans (which I expect is unlikely), then I suspect that would cause even more frustration in the neighborhood than would cars parked up and down the street.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. Terrye says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Oh come on. A van, a little larger than a minivan can carry several people. If you have ever seen one they are not exactly greyhound buses. It would seem to me that if someone finds that frustrating then he has very low frustration level..not to mention the fact that he is more than a little bit of a busy body. Maybe these folks should start selling drugs..people get away with doing that on public streets all over the country every day without anyone fining them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. Terrye says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I see. Well, these people live in that same neighborhood don’t they? Maybe they spent a million dollars for that house and think that if they want to have bible study a couple of days a week they have earned that right.

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  40. @Terrye:

    Maybe they spent a million dollars for that house and think that if they want to have bible study a couple of days a week they have earned that right.

    First, I am sure they did.

    Second, so based on your logic they should be able to run a boutique out of their garage or conduct other business in the home? What if they wanted to rent rooms to numerous families transforming it from a single family dwelling to a multi-family dwelling? How about a daycare center? Or maybe twice a week nursery school?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  41. WR says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Or what about a Muslim prayer group? Funny how Terrye has stayed completely silent on that one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  42. jan says:

    @qtip:

    Jan, do you see a difference between your occasional events and regular twice-a-week events?

    Yes, I do. Again, it’s all a matter of how much such a gathering, twice-weekly especially, impacts the neighborhood.

    Another ‘anecdotal’ comparison, would be college parking. We have a community college near us, whose students have recently flowed over into parking in our neighborhood, making it nearly impossible to park on your own street M-F, 8AM to early evening. Eventually, the neighbors got tired of it, passed a petition around, and got a preferential parking zone applied to our street. It now costs the property owners money to legally park, which I don’t particularly like. But, by purchasing parking passes, you and friends do get to park near where you live.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  43. Eric Florack says:

    @John E. Bredehoft:

    When I read the words “regularly assemble” in the quoted piece, I also immediately thought of “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” To be fair, however, that particular clause was intended to allow people to petition the government, not to petition God.

    I’m unconvinced that there was any such limitation placed on that right. Were it so, Chruches wouldn’t have flourished as they did.To say nothing of the idea that there likley would have been an uprising over such. I know I find it hard to imagine limits on religious gatherings in hose times.

    I wonder how many wingnuts defending this couple opposed the ground zero mosque (which opened recently)?

    Ah. The moral equivalency argument. Zero points.
    I mean, when was the last time you saw a Bible Study group, flying planes into buildings, Lutherans chopping off the heads off “infidels”, Presbyterians committing punishment rapes, Mormons mandating that anyone who converts to a different religion be killed, and Methodists murdering their daughters for refusing to wear a hijab.

    If you honestly believe that people gathering at someone’s home for a bit of bible study is the moral equivalent of flying a plane into a skyscraper and that each group is the same as the other, you are well beyond reason, and certainly beyond any level of discussion that doesn’t involve an echo chamber.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

  44. jan says:

    @WR:

    Or what about a Muslim prayer group? Funny how Terrye has stayed completely silent on that one.

    Asking the most provocative questions you can possibly think of, and then chiding them for ignoring you isn’t ‘funny.’ It would be like asking someone, if they would mind the KKK holding meetings next door, or a motorcycle gang tinkering with their bikes, in unison, across the street every week.

    I see no interest from you in an honest back and forth conversation. It’s always being one-up on the other person, which seems more important than anything else.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  45. An Interested Party says:

    I mean, when was the last time you saw a Bible Study group, flying planes into buildings, Lutherans chopping off the heads off “infidels”, Presbyterians committing punishment rapes, Mormons mandating that anyone who converts to a different religion be killed, and Methodists murdering their daughters for refusing to wear a hijab.

    Oh my, talk about zero points…when you find some proof that the people who opened the Islamic Cultural Center in lower Manhattan are also responsible for any of those acts listed above, do let us know…

    Asking the most provocative questions you can possibly think of, and then chiding them for ignoring you isn’t ‘funny.’ It would be like asking someone, if they would mind the KKK holding meetings next door, or a motorcycle gang tinkering with their bikes, in unison, across the street every week.

    Oh really? So a Muslim prayer group is the same thing as a KKK meeting or a motorcycle gang? Interesting…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  46. @jan:

    Asking the most provocative questions you can possibly think of, and then chiding them for ignoring you isn’t ‘funny.’ It would be like asking someone, if they would mind the KKK holding meetings next door, or a motorcycle gang tinkering with their bikes, in unison, across the street every week.

    Wow.

    I think that you just revealed a lot more about your yourself than intended with those comparisons since the original question was a Muslim prayer meeting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  47. WR says:

    @jan: I’m sorry, but you’re saying that a group of Muslims gathering to pray peacefully — a group of Muslims whose freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Constitution — is the same as having a KKK meeting next door?

    Are you sure you don’t want to rethink that?

    Apparently to you even asking if Muslims should be allowed to worship as freely as Christians is “the most provocative question” I can think of.

    It’s not. Far from it. Because I believe in the freedom of religion our Constitution guarantees us.

    What do yo believe in?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  48. jan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I think that you just revealed a lot more about your yourself than intended with those comparisons since the original question was a Muslim prayer meeting.

    Nothing revealed here, except more of a reticence towards Muslim prayer meetings, followers of Islam, whose religious radical fundamentalist brothers and sisters have been engaged in harsh rhetoric and wars overseas with our country. This may not raise a warning flag for you. But, take a poll in this country, and you’ll find many, if not most people, are more on guard with such a group, especially as cells continue to be caught, and attacks foiled all belonging to arms of this religion.

    Consequently, if there is a Muslim group, purporting to hold religious meetings in a residential area, the neighborhood would be justified to report it’s concerns having them be addressed and any suspicions mollified.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  49. Ernieyeball says:

    A few years ago in a small town not far from my home a similar scenario played out. The street was residential in an older subdivision. Lots with small frontage. If residents had more than one car the second vehicle pretty much took up any parking space on the street in front of the house.
    Sure enough one family on the block started holding religious gatherings twice a week. The attendees parked their cars where they could in front of the neighborhood homes. Homeowners complained to the mayor at city council meetings. “It is our street.”
    Well no it is a public street.
    After a few months of trying to get the neighbors to work it out on their own the mayor took action.
    One morning the neighborhood woke up to the sound of “NO PARKING” signs being installed on both sides of the street for the entire block. Now nobody can park in front of the houses…24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.

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  50. @jan:

    Nothing revealed here, except more of a reticence towards Muslim prayer meetings, followers of Islam, whose religious radical fundamentalist brothers and sisters have been engaged in harsh rhetoric and wars overseas with our country.

    No, quite a lot revealed, in fact.

    1) You equated a Muslim prayer meeting with the KKK.

    and

    2) Now you have revealed that you consider all Muslims to be potential al Qaeda type radicals.

    Both reveal a pretty significant anti-Muslim prejudice as well as a significant level of misunderstanding about Muslims in general and about basic problems liked to numbers (i.e., the large number of non-radical Muslims versus the very small number of radical ones).

    As I recall, you have stated that you live in California. There are hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the state. Are you suggesting that any time any of them gather together that one ought to call the authorities?

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  51. @Ernieyeball: You know, the parking thing all depends on the neighborhood and the zoning. It is against the HOA rules in my neighborhood to park on the street for more than 24 hours at a time.

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  52. jpe says:

    My guess is that there’s a neighbor out there with a particularly well-developed sense of busy-bodyness who has made it their life’s work to complain with the authorities every time one of these Bible Study events takes place

    I’m one of those busy bodies. When my neighbors are disruptively loud, I call the cops. When they have parties that overflow onto the street so that partygoers are right outside my window talking loudly and drunkenly, I call the cops. I like the ability to enjoy my apartment. Cases like these are instances of others impinging on my ability to use my property, not the other way around.

    Like the author, context is important, but my presupposition is that a group of 50 is going to be an annoyance at a minimum and the sort of thing that causes headaches for the other property owners in the vicinity.

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  53. PJ says:

    What I would like to see is some photos of the surrounding streets during these bible study meetings, and a Google Maps view of the area.

    Until then, I don’t think there’s enough information to have an opinion about this.

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  54. mattb says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Thank you for confirming what a number of us continue to see as a pattern of “casual” bigotry towards Islam among some conservative leaning posters on this board.

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  55. anjin-san says:

    @ Steven

    Jan does that sometimes. The other day she was saying that Seal Team Six “refused to meet with Obama” after the OBL takedown.

    Take away bigotry and bald faced lies, and there is not much left on the right except anger and resentment.

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  56. RW Rogers says:

    As no one else here bothered to check out the actual location of the home in question, I did. Here is “http://maps.google.com/maps?q=30162+Branding+Iron+Rd&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wl”&gt”>the satellite view.

    The home is at the end of a cul-de-sac. About 50′ of it’s street frontage is available for parking. That will accommodate 2 cars. An average of 25 cars twice a week would require at least 500′ of street parking. That probably means that at least one side of the entire street is full of cars twice a week. Note that the road is not particularly wide – if attendees are parking on both sides of the road on such a regular basis, the fire department may have something to say about it eventually (if they haven’t already). They do in my area, which is a similar high danger fire zone area – as they can’t get down some streets quickly when there are large numbers of cars on either side.

    Be that as it may, the truth is the city would have done what they did whether the Fromm’s were holding Bible-study meetings, Amway meetings, or Tupperware parties on a twice weekly basis.

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  57. RW Rogers says:

    Link didn’t work right above. Here it is: satellite view

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  58. Liberty60 says:

    As an architect, I regularly run into land use regulations, some of which become incredibly detailed and intrusive, most of which regulations were drafted and pressed into law by citizens, not government bureacrats.

    The answer to the issue at hand is the same answer to most any legal question.
    Namely, it depends on the facts.

    It depends on what impacts the gathering has, it depends on what sort of property is involved and a host of other factors.

    Depending on the circumstances, I could come down on either side of this case.

    But the larger point is that yes, the gummint does have a right to regulate how many and how often people gather. It is the people themselves who have repeatedly and overwhelmingly demanded this power.

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  59. PJ says:

    @RW Rogers:
    Good work, wasn’t able to find their address.

    Unless their visitors can park in the area behind the house, I don’t see how all those visitors can park theirs cars without seriously disrupting things.

    But if their visitors did park in the area behind their house, then I wouldn’t see a problem.

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  60. mattb says:

    Repeated because its so right:

    @Liberty60:
    [M]ost of which regulations were drafted and pressed into law by citizens, not government bureacrats. … But the larger point is that yes, the gummint does have a right to regulate how many and how often people gather. It is the people themselves who have repeatedly and overwhelmingly demanded this power.

    @PJ: Actually, I think parking in the field might be problematic as well depending on property lines. Remember we’re estimating 20+ using the same “field parking” twice every week… that would turn the field into an eyesore pretty quickly.

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  61. Steve Verdon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I don’t think the cops in San Juan can put cruisers on the I-5, that is the job of the CHP. But your point is well taken, there are areas down there where you could put cruisers and clean up via traffic violations.

    I’d be willing to bet the issue is parking. 50 people in southern California equals at least 40 cars, all trying to park close to this house.

    Ding, ding, ding, I think we have a winner. Where I live parking can be an issue at times. Having 50 people show up in 40 or so cars would really be annoying. Once in a while, okay fine. Bi-weekly, sorry I’m going to complain to somebody…after isn’t that why I’m paying taxes?

    And the same goes with the other commenters question about what if was a sex party. Same deal. Parking is now a pain. That and why wasn’t I invited for crying out loud?!?!

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  62. jan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    No, quite a lot revealed, in fact.

    The very fact that you’ve taken my “Muslim” concerns, dissected, parsed and subtly socially diagnosed them also says something about you, Steven.

    It’s revealed the political correctness surrounding your analysis when dealing with events, or even another’s comments. And, such political correctness stifles frankness, lending itself to be conversational roadblocks, merely extending conceptions or misconceptions we may have about one another, rather than unabashedly addressing and ironing them out. Unfortunately, many people in the teaching profession seem to have this PC trait befall them, as they go up the educational ladders.

    My husband and I have a hardwood floor contractor who is Muslim. He and his wife have become good friends of our’s. And, unlike with people such as yourself, we have honest discussions about the Muslim community, their faith, and how 911 and the Middle Eastern wars have eroded trust in American citizens towards Muslims. While he wishes this weren’t so, he does understand the reasons behind it. These kinds of dialogues heal relationships, by exposing ‘concerns’ held within groups of people, especially those feelings based on relevant events, such as what happened here on 911 and beyond. Such awareness then contributes to better understanding and mutual efforts towards long range solutions.

    For people like you, WR, and others, though, superciliously dismissing cultural wariness as being a socially unfit admission or error, further punctuating such uneasiness as signs of bigotry or racism is unhelpful to the overall process of mutual understanding between groups and people. Why do we accept justification for unease around the KKK, or motorcycle ‘gangs,’ but feel the need to reel back in ‘surprise’ to the sting of mass hesitancies towards the Muslim community?

    Basically, I see your response here as falling right in line with NPR’s and their interpretation of Juan Williams’ remarks resulting in him being fired. And, so it seems the unhealthy side effects that PC practioners bring to all layers of society, just keeps rolling along……

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  63. anjin-san says:

    @ Jan

    You are quite correct Jan, Steven has revealed something about himself – he is well informed, intellectually honest & a decent person.

    That must make you very uncomfortable.

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  64. Ernieyeball says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Mr. Taylor,
    No HOA involved here, just the Mayor and the town council. Before all this all came about the only parking restrictions on this city street involved abandoned vehicles.
    What is significant to me about this anecdote is that the Mayor first attempted to solve this problem by encouraging the residents work this out for themselves.
    Minimum government involvement.
    Great idea. Doesn’t always work.

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  65. @Steve Verdon:

    I don’t think the cops in San Juan can put cruisers on the I-5, that is the job of the CHP. But your point is well taken, there are areas down there where you could put cruisers and clean up via traffic violations.

    After I wrote that it occurred to me that the I-5 is CHP land–so point taken. But yes, as you note, the surface streets have speeders aplenty if revenue was the goal.

    Having 50 people show up in 40 or so cars would really be annoying. Once in a while, okay fine. Bi-weekly, sorry I’m going to complain to somebody…after isn’t that why I’m paying taxes?

    Exactly and this has been my point all along. And having looked at the Google map stuff provided above, my suspicions about parking are confirmed–despite the deep lots, calling that neighborhood “semi-rural” is a bit of a stretch. (And I am familiar with the area as I went to high school only a few miles north of the location in question and still have family in the area).

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  66. @RW Rogers:

    Thanks for finding info.

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  67. @jan: You equated a Muslim prayer meeting to a KKK meeting. The fact that you have an employee/friend who is Muslim doesn’t really make that statement go away.

    Calling out clear prejudice is not being “politically correct” and, further, I am pretty sure I am being quite frank.

    Why do we accept justification for unease around the KKK, or motorcycle ‘gangs,’ but feel the need to reel back in ‘surprise’ to the sting of mass hesitancies towards the Muslim community?

    And you are doing the same thing here (Muslim as equivalent to a known hate group or to a possible criminal enterprise). Look, I have no problem saying that you don’t want al Qaeda having a meeting down the street, but (and here’s the rub) the vast majority of Muslims are not members of al Qaeda or like groups.

    If you are going to be consistent, I guess you are going to have to be suspicious about a couple of white guys having a party because, after all, they might be members of the KKK! And yet, the reality is that while all white supremacists tend to be white, not all whites are white supremacists. Likewise, members of al Qaeda tend to Muslims, but not all Muslims are members of al Qaeda.

    I would ask if you now see the problem with your logic but, alas, I suspect that you do not.

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  68. @Ernieyeball: It really depends on the nature of the street, the type of neighborhood or the zoning in question.

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  69. Ernieyeball says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Mr. Taylor,
    Yes. Point taken (twice).
    I did not think I was arguing with you.

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  70. @Ernieyeball: Actually I was intending to be largely agreeing with you as well :)

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  71. WR says:

    @jan: I can just see the scene where Jan and her husband are busy lecturing the Muslim contractor on how justified they are in fearing anyone of his religion, and his nodding and smiling and agreeing and just hoping they’ll shut up and let him do his work and pay him.

    If Jan is indeed a real person, she is clearly among the least self-aware people on the planet.

    But because I always hope that even someone like her can learn if things are explained frequently enough, the reason I might find it rational to be uncomfortable around members of the Klan or a motorcyle gang and not around a Muslim is that the former two are criminal organizations and the latter is a religion.

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  72. Ernieyeball says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Mr. Taylor, If only the Israelis and the Palestinians (or the neighbors in San Juan Capistrano) could resolve their issues as quickly as we just did…I must be dreamin’.

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  73. Eric Florack says:

    Oh my, talk about zero points…when you find some proof that the people who opened the Islamic Cultural Center in lower Manhattan are also responsible for any of those acts listed above, do let us know…

    First, in a social sense, trust requires proof… mistrust does not. Else, you’re at least far more likely to find yourself as evidence in a class on Darwin. It’s one area law can never mesh with reality.

    Secondly, and more importantly, violence against anything non-muslim is a part and parcel of the religion. ts Koran shouts it, its prophet shouts it, its Imams shout it, its 1400 years malevolent history shouts it, its key texts shout it, its student organizations “shout it”, its lawyers shout it, its refusal to assimilate in governments worldwide shouts it, and its bellicose and bigoted demands for Sharia shout it. But you, apparently, haven’t noticed.

    I suggest that you claim a separation between Muslims and Muslim violence that simply doesn’t exist. If you are faithful in the world o fislam, you are fighting a bloody war against anything non-muslim and particularly against the Jews, but against Christians as well.

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  74. mattb says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: The fact that you have an employee/friend who is Muslim doesn’t really make that statement go away.

    Bingo! (and I had missed the fact it might be an employee…)

    Quick primer on Bigotry and Prejudice for Jan and others (full of necessary double negatives):

    First off, there is no “get out of prejudice/bigotry free” card:
    1. Having a X friend of X community/group doesn’t mean that you are NOT prejudiced or bigoted against X. (this is known as the “something write before saying something bigoted in order to not come across like a bigot” rule)
    2. Being a member of X community/group does not mean that you are NOT prejudiced or bigoted against X. (this is known as the Roy Cohen rule)
    3. Employing someone of X community/group does not mean that you are NOT prejudiced or bigoted against X. (this is known as the Rush/Snerdly rule)
    4. Having gone to a public gathering/festival of, eaten the food of, wear clothing/jewelery or own trinkets/arts/crafts made watched a movie made by X community/group does not mean that you are NOT prejudiced or bigoted against X. (this is the “New Agers at the Pow Wow”).

    Ok so what does make one a bigot:
    4. Deep seeded, faith based (in that the are resistant to objective facts in the world) beliefs about a selection of people who you see as untied by a common trait. What’s critical is that you first-and-foremost define people by that trait (ie. before anything else someone is a Muslim). BTW you get extra points for not applying that rule equally across similiar categories (i.e. Of course Christians can be patriotic and can put country before god).

    Now, Jan and others, listen up because this is the key thing…
    RACISM/BIGOTRY/PREJUDICE is no longer simply direct discrimination (if it ever was). It’s not as simple as denying people their rights or otherwise attacking them.

    The thing is that’s all the obvious stuff. What that allows you to paper over are the far more insidious and important issues like:

    > Assume that X person speaks for all people of a certain type (the Reverend Al / Pat Robertson Rule).
    > Assuming that just because someone of another race/religion/ethnic/class group has a conversation with you they want to be/are your friend.
    > Find it strange that X person complains about how popular representations of X people only represent stereotypes. (Extra points for not getting how the Avitar/Dances with Wolves trope of how not only does it take a White Man to save a village, but also that the White Man can be more native than the natives might just offend people).
    > Complement someone of X group for acting against type.
    > Thinking that every race/religion/ethnic/class group needs your help.
    > Thinking that every race/religion/ethnic/class is far too coddled and in our just-and-equitable world just needs to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.
    > Assuming that all Muslims have to atone for 9/11 or bear some extra responsibility to prove that they are loyal US citizens.
    > Not getting what’s problematic about the following statement — “it’s wrong to call the President a Muslim because the President is a good man” (extra points for someone who can string together the key chain of logic there)
    > Believing that a Muslim shooter (with clear mental problems) in the US is driven by religion while a Christian shooter (with clear mental problems) in Finland is driven by madness.
    > Getting into a huff about the rewriting of history books that attempt to address issues like how Columbus played a key role in starting the slave trade and genocide against natives as being motivated by “cultural studies.”
    > Wondering why history books that were good enough for my generation aren’t good enough for my kids (despite the fact that they systematically downplay contributions of minorities and pave over anything that is remotely controversial involving US actions).
    > Not understanding the problem with Michelle Bachman’s comments about the founding fathers working tirelessly to end slavery.
    > Have found yourself saying “Slavery ended over a century ago, when are people going to get over it?”
    > Have found yourself saying “My family came after slavery so don’t blame me for your problems.”
    > Having an issue with Ground Zero being hallowed ground that Muslims cannot built anywhere near for time and memorial without insulting the victims of the event but completely bristling at the idea that returning land to native american tribes who were the victims of state and religiously sanctioned acts of mass slaughter and terrorism.
    > Addendum to the last one… always talking about how the Nuns gave up the Auschwitz Convent as a lesson for Muslims and failing to acknowledge the fact that they still maintain a convent immediately outside the ground of Dachau.
    > Stating that while Christian, Jewish and Buddist campaigns of genocide/religious slaughter of Muslims that continue to this day, somehow the victims either deserved it or that Islam is the only religion with a monopoly on violence.
    > “Not getting” how anyone could possibly find racist undertones in people who attack the president for not being a US Citizen (or not like “us” or drinkin’ 40′s or having been handed everything in his life). BTW, extra lack of irony points if you also are willing to argue that it’s clear that the unspoken message of his Foreign Speeches is a clear sub-current of “apologizing.”

    Oh… and here’s a key sign… if your first reaction to being made uncomfortable by multiple points raised above is resort to “you’re just being politically correct” to effectively shut down the argument (extra points if you then tell a story about a friend/employee of X persuasion … extra extra points if you suddenly link yourself to X group by blood).

    But the biggest sign is that after being greeted with objective facts you then say “yes, but…” and go on to ignore the facts that have just been presented in order to maintain your worldview.

    Note that none these things are exclusive to a single political ideology. And chances are you can be bigoted against one community without being that way against all of them.

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  75. mattb says:

    BTW… should you have any other questions about or wish to see other examples of Bigotry/Prejudice at play, please see the post that @Eric Florack was so glad to contribute.

    Note his assured position that we should take the Koran at literal value (while ignoring any sort o literal reading of the bad stuff in the Old Testament … bwt, given his viewpoints on charity and helping others, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t support a literal reading of the words of Christ either) as final an undisputed proof of how violent all “good/true” Muslims are (btw does that mean that Christians who don’t support the death penalty are bad Christians? — btw, I’m, not suggesting Eric is a Christian, because the content of his posts pretty much establishes that he can’t be one). Note how confidently he suggests that his learned opinion trumps anything factual evidence/argument that is presented against him.

    So here’s another good rule for casual bigots/racists/homophobes/anti-tea-partyists* — embrace your inner Eric (or Superdestroyer) and proudly proclaim your faith based intolerance! Honestly, even though what you write on that topic will piss the rest of us off, we’ll respect you a lot more for it.

    [*] Note that at least when it comes to the Tea Party, Michael R and a number of other posters have definitely and proudly embraced their inner bigot. So this isn’t just high/mushy minded liberal claptrap.

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  76. Bill says:

    @jan:
    There was no parking impediment. And where people parked was not visible to the other homeowners. There were only 5 other owners as this is a semi rural area

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  77. Bill says:

    @PD Shaw: The parked cars except for one or two were not visible to the neighbors

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  78. Bill says:

    @Peterh:
    No disgruntled churches one neighbor

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  79. Bill says:

    I know the people and have been there. There wasn’t a parking problem. The HOA was OK. All the other neighbors were OK, even wrote letters saying so. But there was one neighbor that wasn’t. There was no noise problem, Everyone was very respectful. It was a bunch of friends that have met over the years and get together. There is no church. In fact many of the people are members of various churches. The 50 people was only on Sunday and I believe they moved it to a club house over a month age. More like 20 during the week.

    So the offensive behaviour to the best of my knowledge was 20 people once a week that were quite and careful not to abuse any parking.

    Everyone stayed way away from the problem neighbors home being even extra careful. Some people parked on the south side of mission hills dr which is way wider and has a parking shoulder. It is the road that feeds the road he lives on. The road he lives on has a stretch of about 450 feet where there are no homes on one side of the road. Things look way bigger when driving there than they do on a map. :-)

    Any way the ordinance the city used was because it was a church. It’s not. It is a bunch of friends that get together and discuss stuff they are interested in. It just happens, they are interested in biblical and spiritual stuff.

    I heard this evening, who knows how accurate it is. The person complaining is an atheist that doesn’t want any praying on her street. True? I don’t know. But there are certainly zealots in every belief system.

    As for the sex party. If they didn’t block parking or the street and were quiet and discrete, then it is between them and their communicable disease medical practitioner. It’s their home not mine.

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  80. Eric Florack says:

    Given Bill’s comments, I begin to suspect that what we have here is one neighbor with anti-religious sentiments using government to further that position.

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  81. Eric Florack says:

    Believing that a Muslim shooter (with clear mental problems) in the US is driven by religion while a Christian shooter (with clear mental problems) in Finland is driven by madness.

    Key point you miss…

    The Koran is full of calls for violence against anything that is non-muslim. The Bible, OTOH, is not full of calls for violence against non-Christians, or non-Jews.

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  82. Eric Florack says:

    RACISM/BIGOTRY/PREJUDICE is no longer simply direct discrimination (if it ever was). It’s not as simple as denying people their rights or otherwise attacking them.

    It’s whatever the left says it is, eh?.

    How else to be able to use the charge of bigotry at the right, if you can’t change the meaning when it is show that what the right is doing isn’t bigotry?

    Pffffttt.

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  83. Eric Florack says:

    Note his assured position that we should take the Koran at literal value (while ignoring any sort o literal reading of the bad stuff in the Old Testament

    If you had a clue…. You’d not embarrass yourself like this.
    You seem unaware of this….In the Christian religion, the New testament supersedes the old.

    But let’s get specific, here. What “bad stuff” in the old testament do you refer to? Chapter and verse.

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  84. Bill says:

    Eric Florack says:
    Saturday, September 24, 2011 at 07:17
    Given Bill’s comments, I begin to suspect that what we have here is one
    neighbor with anti-religious sentiments using government to further that
    position.

    ——–

    Bingo

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  85. mattb says:

    @Eric Florack:

    The Koran is full of calls for violence against anything that is non-muslim. The Bible, OTOH, is not full of calls for violence against non-Christians, or non-Jews.

    It’s pretty clear that you haven’t cracked a bible in years. You don’t seem to have read Deuteronomy or Leviticus – you know, the key ‘Law Giving’ books. (I’ll not address stuff in the songs/psalsm/prayer chapters or the historical chapters which happen to feature a lot of Jew on Gentile God sanctioned Genocide – Joshua’s particularly rich with examples). Deuteronomy is key because it is considered to be the foundation of Jewish Law (it’s also one of the two locations of the 10 commandments … kinda an important thing – though remember in a strict reading those rules only really apply to Jews).

    Here’s the cheat sheet – a strict reading tells us that God commands Jews not to go easy on Gentiles – and that it’s pretty difficult to get permission to become a Jew…

    Deuteronomy 6 warns that anyone who turns away from the one true God will be struck down by him. And, God forbit they try to convert you… Deuteronomy is pretty clear about what to do with proselytizers (As Stephen would find out):

    “If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you … Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die.” — Dt.13:6-10

    But stoning is relatively tame when compared to what should be done to heathans caught evangelizing:

    “If thou shalt hear … men … saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known … Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you; Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for the LORD thy God: and it shall be an heap for ever; it shall not be built again .And there shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand: that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of his anger, and shew thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers; ” – Dt: D13:12-17

    But what other nations who are not trying to evangelize? … They don’t fair much better. They have to be eliminated or the Jews will piss off God:

    And when the LORD thy God shall deliver [other nations of non-jews] before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. or they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. … For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. … And thou shalt consume all the people which the LORD thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them. D 7:1-4, 6

    This general policy is reinforced within Chronicles as well:

    Whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. 2 Chronicles 15:13

    Deuteronomy also notes that many people cannot even join the Jewish faith (others, like Egyptians can, after petitioning and worshiping for multiple generations). Deuteronomy 20 also notes that when warring with other tribes, the entire male population should be put to death (their women can be taken as one of your wives).

    Oh, and Leviticus 25:44-46 notes that Gentiles (from heathen neighboring nations — so this could be seen as a grounds for employing illegal immigrants) can be taken as slaves and they and their children shall always be possessions of your bloodline (an important passage for the justification of slavery btw):

    Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Of them shall ye buy, and of their families … inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever. Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: L 25:44-6.

    Exodus 21 also allows the beating of those Gentile slaves (just not to death)…

    The New Testament, I grant you is generally free of this stuff (though note that it was not intended as a governmental/Law Giving text). Though there are two key phrases out of Jesus’s mouth.

    Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34
    He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. Luke 22:36

    Note that both of these passages have been misinterpreted by Christians as sanctioning war (or forced conversions when mashed with certain parts of Acts) – Christ was engaging in provocative hyperbole as he was wont to do. This is a complete misinterpretation, but you seem to arguing for a literal reading of the Koran, so it seemed appropriate to mention these.

    Ironically, while the New Testament is pretty free of calls for violence, since the days of Martin Luther – sadly – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Jews_and_Their_Lies – many of the above OT passages were used by Christians as justification for getting rid of Jews who wouldn’t convert (i.e. we need to get them before thy get us … sorta the way you use the Koran…. funny huh?!). They were specifically used by the Nazi’s to justify the Holocaust. And they were also used as justification in into the Protocols of the Zion Elders which, were being used by blind ideologues a century ago in defense of anti-Semitic positions.

    Which all things considered, isn’t too far off from what you’re doing with the Koran. Congratulations, you’re using the same tried and true methods that advocates of Slavery and antisemitism have used since at least the 1500s!

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  86. mattb says:

    @Eric Florack:
    As a God fearing Lutheran, I’m offended at the accusation that I don’t know my bible[1]…

    I’ve cited chapter and verse in the OT.

    You also have oversimplified the entire idea of the NT superseding the OT. Jesus was attempting to create Judaism 2.0, so the general rule is that the NT only supersedes the OT on topics Jesus didn’t address slavery. Hence the Spanish and others using Deuteronomy and Leviticus to provide biblical justification for slavery and forced conversions (note that its far easier to become a Christian than a Jew — thank you Jesus and Paul). Likewise, Jesus didn’t directly discuss homosexuality (the only NT reference is two sentences by Paul in Romans 1:26-7.[2] So conservative Christians use a two sentences from Leviticus (18:22 and 20:13) to justify homosexuality as an abomination. It’s ironic that many of those same Christians miss the verse in the same chapter that bans tattooing (19:28) … which is another topics Christ never addressed.

    Also, I will go on to again note that Christians[3] did use all the passages from the OT to justify the persecution of Jews under the rubric that at its foundation, their Law (Deuteronomy) requires them to slay/destroy anyone who would try to convert them (i.e. Christians) and can be read as giving the Jewish nation the right to exploit (I forgot to mention that Deuteronomy 23:19-20 also states that Jews can practice usery only with non-Jews), enslave, and destroy all other nations (as they are God’s chosen people).[4] And we have clear historical evidence of this tactic being used across centuries (up until today at sites like Stormfront) and by the Nazi’s to justify the Holocaust.

    Funny how you seem to be using that exact same tactic with the Koran. Can’t help but think that like the Nazi’s, you’ll most likely find yourself on the wrong side of history within the next 40 years.

    ——

    [1] – I’m your worst nightmare on this subject btw — a liberal leaning, well read, Lutheran…

    [2] – Note that there are only three direct references to Homosexuality in the entire bible (all listed above).

    [3] Sadly as a Lutheran, must acknowledge Luther’s role in creating some of the earliest printed treatises that used the OT to advocate the oppression of Jews and the fact that it wasn’t until the1980′s & 1990′s that most Lutheran Denomination condemned these writings.

    [4] – BTW, it’s also true that. in fact, these passages have been used historically and in modern day by Jewsish radicals a basis for attacks on non-believers/those who turn their back on the Jewish people (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judaism_and_violence#Modern_violence for a short overview of the more recent examples).

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  87. anjin-san says:

    Hmmm. Facts.

    No wonder bithead has fled with his tail between his legs.

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  88. Bill says:

    @mattb

    The subject of this blog is, “the meeting they got fined for”. So, I hate to contribute to getting off subject but couldn’t help it.

    I can find no fault with your facts. You are obviously well read.

    I just had a couple thoughts.

    First, although the Jewish population did on a number of occasions so some pretty rough things and these things were ordered by God. The acts were way in the past. Things changed a lot after the temple fell. That was pretty close to 2000 years ago. There are some Jews still doing violence justified by Torah. But they are very few. Very very few of the current Jewish population believes it is OK to do violence to others simply because they are not Jews. In the Talmud it even says that if a Jew treats a non Jew poorly it is one of the greatest sins. Because as Gods representatives they are giving God a bad name. I suspect lots haven’t read that. But it’s that way in all faiths.

    In the Christian faith the big story from Jesus is, “love your enemy (as well as everyone else)”. Message for message it’s more love and tolerance than slice and dice. Unfortunately, even this message was turned into justification for violence. However, the back story on a lot of the violence was political hiding behind religion but that’s even another blog.

    The Jewish violence (except for a very few) happened long ago. The Christian violence, happened long ago. Does that make it OK or even truly understandable? NO! But, it IS history.

    The Islamic violence which the Qur’an (or Koran if you prefer) clearly not only condones but mandates is happening NOW. From a philosophical point of view they are the same. But reading history and dodging bullets doesn’t feel the same. A major tenant of Islam is to make the entire world Islamic. Violence and lying are not only condoned they are encouraged, even praised. If someone brings up all the love the people of the book stuff then you must understand abrogation before you understand why it isn’t so.

    So, sad as it might be, It appears that radicalism is fundamental to Islam.

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  89. mattb says:

    @Bill:

    The Islamic violence which the Qur’an (or Koran if you prefer) clearly not only condones but mandates is happening NOW.

    Again, this “argument” is sadly … not to mention ironically… familiar. As I noted, this “happening now” is exactly the same argument that Luther used in the 1500′s, that anti-Zionists used in the late 19th and early 20th century, and that Nazi propeganda used against the Jews in the 30′s/40′s, and that Stormfront uses today. That the texts of the OT were mandating Jewish violence and abuse NOW. So you are using the same argument style of anti-semites.

    Additionally, there are radical Rabbi’s who are still arguing that the OT/Torah and the Talmud (arguably more important than the Torah in terms of law) allow for war against non-Jews. Look no further than the recent controversy’s over the publication of “Torat ha-Melekh” (a good overview is available at http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/news/the-king-s-torah-a-rabbinic-text-or-a-call-to-terror-1.261930). And as I linked in the above comments, there are ongoing acts of violence, primarily against Palestinians by settlers, carried out based on interpretive texts like these.

    @Bill:

    The Christian violence, happened long ago.

    Did you miss the part where I mentioned how Luther’s writings (and again, I’m a fan of Luther in general) were used to justify the Haulacaust (and Germany at that time was a 92% Christian nation). What was less than 100 years ago.

    Likewise, I would remind you that in Bosnia the intervention was to stop the Christian Serbs from committing an act of Genocide against Bosnian Muslims (the 1990′s). It’s important to note that during this time, the Serbs were referred to as Serbs rather than Christians or Christianists.

    Again, I’m Christian and think that Christians (and Jews and Muslims and countless other religions and sects) have done a hell of a lot of good in the world. But trying to say that “violence is in our past” requires a wholesale rewriting of history.

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  90. Clayton says:

    “What is significant to me about this anecdote is that the Mayor first attempted to solve this problem by encouraging the residents work this out for themselves.”

    Which is exactly what should have happened. People need to remember that they are part of a society and actaully talk to each other. I saw a quote from Mr Fromm which stated he was not even aware the neighbors were concened. That tells me all I need to know. This is a case of an anti-social neighbhor who did have the courage to spend ten seconds speaking to someone.

    I keep seeing “parking” being mentioned here but just quick look on Google Earth shows there is no way there was a parking problem. The street is public, anyone can park there anytime they want for any peaceful reason. Every house on that street also has a private driveway and garage (two have more than one). Which means unless someone blocked their driveway there should be no problem. If someone did then the city should have been addressing that issue, not the social gathering

    Any city making ordinances on what you do inside your home are wrong, plain and simple (excluding the obvious). Someone said what if it was sex night? Well, I am don’t really think that should be much of an issue either but bottom line is this – the local government has to represent the values of their society. The US is a country formed on Christian values and that is at the heart of this matter. So in that regard maybe the would be right to break up a sex party – but I say maybe only a little right. Better if they left it alone but if the neighbors coudl see it then maybe not. But, back to the issue – this was a social gathering based on the very foundation of this societies values. There could not be a more correct and wholesome gathering and to object to it is a sign of the times. I am not surprised this happened in California.

    “I wonder how many wingnuts defending this couple opposed the ground zero mosque (which opened recently)?”

    Only a wingnut would NOT have opposed that being built. I don’t even live in the US and I can see how stupid the local government was for allowing, actually sponsoring, that mosque.

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  91. Bill says:

    @mattb

    AW darn I just wrote a big reply and the window closed before I could submit it.

    I’ll try and be more succinct. Are there people doing horrific things in the name of God claiming to be Jews and Christians? Yes sadly there are. Are they real Christians? I’ll leave that for another blog. They look like it to others.

    I do not condone violence done in the name of God by any faith. I do not condone violence that says believe as I do or die or become a slave.

    Islam seems to say that as a basic tenant of the faith. It seems to not only condone but promote violence. Look at a map and see where Sharia law is now in effect. I don’t think you would like Sharia law.

    With things so clearly spelled out, I don’t understand the Moderate Islam believer’s position. Where is the huge cry out against the radicals? After 9/11 there wasn’t a great sorrow from the Islamic community. There was dancing in the streets. Even the streets of the US.

    I am concerned our PC idiocy is going to get us in real trouble.

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  92. mattb says:

    @Bill they problem is succinctly set up in the following bit:

    Are there people doing horrific things in the name of God claiming to be Jews and Christians? Yes sadly there are. Are they real Christians?

    Islam seems to say that as a basic tenant of the faith.

    Funny how you can easily state that certain people are not real Christians and Jews… but real Muslims must be violent.

    This is of course the same sort of think that people did to the Jews: Read their texts… real Jews are violent. Look at what they’ve done… real Jews are violent.

    After 9/11 there wasn’t a great sorrow from the Islamic community.

    What the hell do you mean? What exactly is the “Islamic Community?” In a country? World Wide? If there’s a World Wide Islamic community, then we must assume that there is a World Wide Christian Community… So in the 90′s was the World Wide Cristian Community to blame for the Bosnian Genocide? As I remember a number of Christian Conservatives directly opposed military intervention. Was that a sign that they wanted to continue the slaughter? What about all of the oppressions of Jews happening in Christian German? Or by the Christian KKK in the Southern US?

    Further your premise ignores the numerous places in the Muslim world where memoral services and events were held for victims. And the many groups and individuals that condemed (an continue to condemn) the violence. Knowing a number of American Muslims I know there was a significant amount of grief, just as with all Americans. And this continues to this day… note the Recent Muslim Rally against Extremism: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5geEwEHZk0XTeZgGfZFX-tyP3ByZw?docId=ae72f07b68b94968b86b7e8cadde962c

    Where there were small celebrations, you are conveniently looking over many of the possible POLITICAL versus religious reasons that they might celebrate something bad happening to the US.

    I am concerned our PC idiocy is going to get us in real trouble.

    I don’t deny that there are people — who are Islamic — who do wish to hurt us. But, as I noted above, your are using the old “stop being politically correct” card to justify your willful ignorance to ignore all the facts that undercut your argument and gleefully continuing with an emotionally/faith based driven BIGOTRY.

    And you refuse to acknowledge that they way you have justified your bigotry is exactly the same way people in the past have justified their bigotry against other Religion — in particular Judaism. Why? Because I imagine that it would force your to actual have to ask yourself the question “am I a bigot?”

    If it helps, the rest of us who are open to looking to the whole picture already know the answer.

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  93. mattb says:

    @Bill:

    A major tenant of Islam is to make the entire world Islamic. Violence and lying are not only condoned they are encouraged, even praised. If someone brings up all the love the people of the book stuff then you must understand abrogation before you understand why it isn’t so.

    BTW, a common talking point among Anti-Semities is that certain Talmudic books also authorizing those exact same things (see Baba Kamma 113a/b). An the Talmud — in terms of Judaism — is far more important than the OT.

    And argument — though its a stretch — is that Paul also advocated “guile” (aka lying) if it assisted in converting people to Christianity. The topic does come up numerous times throughout the Letters of the NT.

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  94. Bill says:

    Mattb comments normal
    Bill reply comments bolded

    Funny how you can easily state that certain people are not real Christians and Jews… but real Muslims must be violent.

    Why is that funny? The basic tenants of today’ Christianity and Judaism is based on not doing ill to others. Are there a small number of people that believe almost anything “in the name of”. Yep. They are in every faith. But the basic tenants of Islam is to convert the world to Islam. There are three choices: convert, become subservient or die.

    This is of course the same sort of think that people did to the Jews: Read their texts… real Jews are violent. Look at what they’ve done… real Jews are violent.

    Despite the fact that Judaism was reinvented after the fall of the temple, the violence is usually historically bounded. “Go kill those guys now. Not go kill those guys forever. I find getting violent proselytizing out of the Christian scriptures tortuous at best.

    After 9/11 there wasn’t a great sorrow from the Islamic community.

    What the hell do you mean? What exactly is the “Islamic Community?” In a country? World Wide? If there’s a World Wide Islamic community, then we must assume that there is a World Wide Christian Community… So in the 90′s was the World Wide Cristian Community to blame for the Bosnian Genocide? As I remember a number of Christian Conservatives directly opposed military intervention. Was that a sign that they wanted to continue the slaughter? What about all of the oppressions of Jews happening in Christian German? Or by the Christian KKK in the Southern US?

    If there is violence done in the name of Christianity and I know about it I will spear against . Especially if it is done where we live. All the Christians I know would do the same. When the towers came down there was a lot of dancing in the streets by supporting people. Yes in the USA where it happened. I waited for the messages from the moderates condemning the actions. Where were they? I wouldn’t expect them from people far away. But those that are part or our community. Where was the voice saying “that is not what we believe. We condemn it.” I didn’t hear it.

    Further your premise ignores the numerous places in the Muslim world where memoral services and events were held for victims. And the many groups and individuals that condemed (an continue to condemn) the violence. Knowing a number of American Muslims I know there was a significant amount of grief, just as with all Americans. And this continues to this day… note the Recent Muslim Rally against Extremism: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5geEwEHZk0XTeZgGfZFX-tyP3ByZw?docId=ae72f07b68b94968b86b7e8cadde962c

    Encouraging, thanks for sharing that.

    Where there were small celebrations, you are conveniently looking over many of the possible POLITICAL versus religious reasons that they might celebrate something bad happening to the US.

    I am concerned our PC idiocy is going to get us in real trouble.

    I don’t deny that there are people — who are Islamic — who do wish to hurt us. But, as I noted above, your are using the old “stop being politically correct” card to justify your willful ignorance to ignore all the facts that undercut your argument and gleefully continuing with an emotionally/faith based driven BIGOTRY.

    And you refuse to acknowledge that they way you have justified your bigotry is exactly the same way people in the past have justified their bigotry against other Religion — in particular Judaism. Why? Because I imagine that it would force your to actual have to ask yourself the question “am I a bigot?”

    If it helps, the rest of us who are open to looking to the whole picture already know the answer.

    Well so much for discussion. I see you have resorted to name calling. This usually signals the end of meaningful dialog. I am surprised because this usually happens when a person runs out of logic and resorts to emotion. I thought you were more learned. Oh well.

    For other readers I solicit input from Islamic believers that can explain why what seems to be such a violence promoted book really doesn’t say that. I really would like to know.

    I apologize to those interested in the original topic for my part in derailing this blog

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