Should Home Based Bible Studies Be Government Approved? has been tracking a story for a few years that should be given some notice. It seems to have begun in the spring of 2009 in San Diego, CA, reached out to Gilbert, AZ  in late winter 2010 and has spread recently to  San Juan Capistrano, CA. A story that can boggle your mind on how a local ordinance could be passed that violates at least two basic liberties guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. A story that just seems so stupid it could even be real. The story? Government officials on local levels are fining U.S. citizens for holding Bible studies in their homes citing that local ordinances are being violated.

Now if that isn't a bombshell going off in your mind chances are you don't understand the concept of "Separation of Church And State" or the intent of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. We all know there are many among us that also do not really care of this issue. We know there's some that believe the "U.S. Constitution is in the way". It may be surprising to realize many Americans do not actually know all that much concerning The U.S. Constitution. The following is an excerpt from; ("The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania has been the premier communication policy center in the country since its founding in 1993." - from that site's About page)

  • Just 38% could name all three branches of the U.S. government: the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. A third (33%) are unable to correctly name any of the branches.
    • Among those who felt they understood the purpose and role of the three branches of government either very or somewhat well, only 50% could name all three.
  • On presidential veto powers, barely half of Americans (51%) know that a two-thirds majority vote by Congress is needed to overturn a presidential veto.
  • 91% of Americans know that the U.S. Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States. However:
    • Only 37% know that a citizen cannot appeal a Supreme Court decision to the Federal Court of Appeals.
    • 62% of Americans know that the U.S. Supreme Court carries the responsibility for determining the constitutionality of a law.
  • Over the years there have been many 5-4 Supreme Court decisions, but fewer than half of Americans (48%) know that such decisions have the same effect as 9-0 ones.
  • 54% are aware that Supreme Court justices usually announce their decisions in writing.
  • Even after taking the effects of level of education into account, our analysis shows that taking a civics or government course in high school or college predicts civics knowledge.

"Since knowing how democracy works predicts civic participation and support for protecting our system of government, these results are worrisome,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC). “The nation should be troubled by the extent to which civic education is downplayed in its schools.” 

Sounds as though Kathleen Hall Jamieson is concerned. And she should be. We all should be! On a very basic level... how can Americans claimutilize and/or defend their rights as American citizens if they don't know their rights? How much time is put into teaching the youth of our nation the facts concerning the times of and the drafting of The U.S. Constitution? How many missed yesterday being Constitution Day? How much personal study does American adults put into understanding their rights as responsible citizens? Apparently not enough! But our education system is failing us also in that our young minds are not being educated as well as the youth of other nations as seen in this report last December. Personally I first  learned anything of substance about the U.S. Constitution in high school but only the basics were covered. Classes on government were required in Michigan for my generation in the 70's but maybe all that there really is time for is the basics in a one semester class. My daughters just informed me a government class is not required to graduate in the state of Tennessee. What I know about the Constitution I've done what I've had to do to learn on any subject I desired knowledge of. I had to study it myself. 

Likewise, God's people have rights as well. Political rights? No... not while we're in this realm! Our rights as sons and daughters of God in this day and time, this period of time known as the "Grace Administration" in the Scriptures, are spiritual rights given to us at the moment of our new birth. As in the lack of education causing many Americans to be rather ignorant of the document that establishes our liberties, it is ignorance in the mind's of God's people that keep them from claiming, utilizing and/or defending their "sonship rights". There's five of them. Do you know what they are? Do you know how to use them in your spiritual walk through this life as a child of God? The instructions (found in God's Word) have been given. Not easy to ascertain from the Scriptures but it is available to do just that. No... I doubt any of us will understand or even yet get it all but love (agape in the greek) covers all short comings in our lives. Including not rightly dividing His Word. At times. Not that that's an excuse for not trying(!)... but living this agape love is our trump card in all situations! And that agape love is not really fully understood as deeply as it could be without a knowledge of your spiritual rights, your sonship rights.

I speak of home based bible study to you from personal experience. I'd have to say at least 95% of my scriptural training was given and received in home based fellowships. The world wide ministry I'm involved with for more than 30 years is based on home fellowships. With mature and proper leadership home fellowships can be more than aspects of the stories of the New Testament. They do provide an atmosphere for learning and a wonderful experience and example of like minded disciples living in The Truth of what they learn from the scriptures bringing that agape love into manifestation in service to the gathering as well as outside the peaceable assembly in daily life... in godly habit patterns. Would you not agree the virtues learned from the Scriptures and lived in the lives of citizens that choose to do so could only build responsible, law abiding, tax paying citizens? 

Speaking of taxes, as far as any governmental interest in what goes on concerning religious practices in any American's home...  Is only allowed to be concerned with whether or not there's any commerce going on. I haven't seen any articles on these situations mentioning that. If they are accepting tithes or donations they are going to have to set-up these "churches" as a non-profit organization like the rest of government recognized religions. Should government be involved if no money is involved? And... (this I really don't know) If it's on private, non business zoned property does a certain number of visitors require permits? Any of these stories coming to light over the last few years that don't get resolved may very well wind up in a state Supreme Court if not the U.S. Supreme Court. I truly don't think it should get that far as these local ordinances are in contradiction to the federal guarantee to "...  make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech...; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble."

I posted a question concerning this issue on that generated quite a bit of interest and can be seen here. What do you think? Should fines be paid until/if the local laws get changed? Should it go to court? Should home based Bible studies be government approved?

Recommended Video 49:00  

Related Links
Constitution Day     A Child's Rights    Separation Of Church And State
Home: No Place For Bible Study    Wake-up call': U.S. Students Trail Global Leaders
The Hollering Stump: Agape. Such A Love As This!     In God We Trust
City demands Christians get permit for Bible study
How Well Do Americans Understand the Constitution?
Should Home Based Bible Studies Be Government Approved? -
Capistrano Couple in Legal Battle for Hosting Bible Study in Home

- Published 09/18/2011