A number of people were very interested in the article I wrote last week entitled, “America, Watch Out!” The following is an update – a reprise, if you will – on this story.
As I recounted then, a pastor and his wife were being harassed by the County of San Diego for conducting Bible studies in their home. On Good Friday they were personally informed that they were in violation of some obscure codes prohibiting the gathering of folks (in this case 5-27) without first obtaining outrageously expensive permits.
A friend of mine replied to my story at some length with these cogent insights: “Zoning laws and associated use permits are allowed by the case law interpreting the California and US constitutions. If people are concerned about such laws, they can easily amend the state constitution by referendum. It has been amended about 500 times in its nearly 160-year existence. Next time Christians are presented with an initiative limiting land use regulation--such as Proposition 90, which was defeated 52% to 48% in the polls on November 7, 2006--they should vote for freedom.”
He concluded with this reminder to all of us who love our freedom: “If Christians care about their civil liberties, then they must organize and be heard at the ballot box. They must Vote Freedom! Remind your readers to actively exercise their franchise and Vote Freedom next time.”
I could not agree more. Our history in terms of voting on issues has been gradually weakened over the years. Folks do not stay current on affairs taking place in their own cities and counties. With abysmally low voter turn-out, policies and laws are voted in by a handful (relatively speaking) of our friends and neighbors that may adversely affect us personally, as in the case of this pastor in San Diego.
The Associated Press reported that the pastor and his wife were offered an apology by San Diego County. That’s both good news and bad. The good news is that the officials in charge of the county government recognized the error and owned up to it. The bad news is that this county ordinance is too obscure in its meaning and intent; therefore, it is left up to interpretation. In this case – misinterpretation.
The following is the brief article by the Associated Press: Pastor Gets an Apology over Demand for a Bible Permit. San Diego – “San Diego County has apologized to a pastor and his wife who were cited and told to get a permit for a weekly Bible study session held at their Bonita home. In a letter dated Wednesday, County’s Chief Administrative Officer Walter Ekard blamed the mistake on ‘unclear language in the zoning ordinance.’ In April, David Jones and his wife, Mary, were told they could be fined $100 to $1000 if they didn’t comply with county codes that prohibit holding religious assemblies without a major-use permit. 5-27 people attend the gatherings.”
In another case much closer to home, a friend told me, “This type of infringement happens all over the place. Example: a Ripon library official told me that a new law (now in place since just a few weeks ago) will not allow me as a parent to seek information from them regarding the status of my children's library account. So, if I just want to find out if they have late fees (and if so on what book title) they are no longer allowed to give this to me.”
Let me ask you – Do you know what’s happening in your community? Such laws may initially appear to be valid at first glance, but we the people need to look carefully at how such laws might be interpreted, and then enforced.
We are the keepers of our freedoms – not politicians.
So next time there’s a special election, such as we had here in California a few weeks ago, pay attention; learn about the propositions being put forth to the voting public; and then make your voice heard and vote. I worked the polls in this election with four others and most of our fourteen-hour day was spent chatting amongst ourselves, snacking, and reading. We had less than 100 people come in and vote that day. About half that many dropped off absentee ballots.
This is deplorable! There is no sense in crying foul when our freedoms are impinged upon. It has always been my contention that if a person doesn’t care to take the time to vote, then they have no right to complain.
The America of the future is being decided by the Americans of today. What does that America look like to you?