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San Diego Withdraws Bible Study Warning

Written By: Bob Unruh  |  Posted: Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

San Diego County has withdrawn a warning letter and cease and desist order it had issued against a pastor against a weekly Bible study held in his home, and the chief administrative officer for the governmental body has added his own personal apology to the pastor over the accusations. "I want to offer my apology to you, your wife and your congregation for the unfortunate events of the past several weeks, " said the letter from Walter F. Ekard, chief officer of the county. "My review of the situation shows that no administrative citation warning should have been issued and that a major use permit is not required for the Bible study you have in your home."

WND first broke the news of Pastor David Jones and his wife Mary, who was confronted by a San Diego County official, grilled over what is said at the couple's Tuesday night Bible studies and then later issued a citation barring the couple from hosting further studies until they obtain a major use permit, the costs of which can escalate into the thousands. Mrs. Jones further reported the county official warned her that hosting the study - deemed a "religious assembly" subject to county codes - without the permit could result in fines escalating from $100 to $1, 000. Under a deluge of public response and a demand letter from the Western Center for Law & Policy, the county backed off its demand and told the couple that they may resume their studies. The written notification of the county's action was received at the law firm's office earlier this afternoon. "Our Code Enforcement Officer incorrectly made the finding based in no small measure on unclear language in the zoning ordinance, " Ekard continued. "I have already issued several directives to county staff. First, I have asked the Department of Planning and Land Use and our county counsel to conduct a thorough review of ordinances regarding all assemblies to clarify that meetings such as you are holding in your home may continue without regulation." He said he also wants improved internal code enforcement procedures and a supervisor's review of assembly related cases before any notices are issued. "Training will be updated and conducted for all code enforcement officers, " he wrote.

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