MISSION VIEJO (CBS) — An Orange County couple has been ordered to stop holding a Bible study in their home on the grounds that the meeting violates a city ordinance as a "church" and not as a private gathering.
Homeowners Chuck and Stephanie Fromm, of San Juan Capistrano, were fined $300 earlier this month for holding what one city official called "a regular gathering of more than three people" that requires a conditional use permit, according to Pacific Justice Institute, the couple's legal representation.
The Fromms also reportedly face subsequent fines of $500 per meeting for any further "religious gatherings" in their home, according to the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI).
After city officials rejected the Fromms' appeal, PJI, which represents both the Fromms and other Bible study participants, will appeal the decision to the California Superior Court in Orange County.
Neighbors have written letters to the city in support of the Fromms, whom they said have not caused any disturbances with the meetings, according to PJI.
The city of San Juan Capistrano was founded as a mission in the late 1700s by Catholic priest Junipero Serra, who established a local chapel that remains the oldest standing building in California.
Officials with San Juan Capistrano did not respond to requests for comment.