Regulation

Excuse Me, Ma'am, We've Had Reports of Prayer

|

San Diego County officials have threatened to fine a local pastor and his wife for holding unauthorized Bible study sessions in their home. The couple's attorney, Dean Broyles of the Western Center for Law & Policy, tells the story this way:

The county asked, "Do you have a regular meeting in your home?" She said, "Yes." "Do you say amen?" "Yes." "Do you pray?" "Yes." "Do you say praise the Lord?" "Yes."

Evidently that was enough to qualify the house as a house of worship, meaning the hosts need a "major use permit," which can cost tens of thousands of dollars to acquire. The Bible classes attract about 15 people a week.

Broyles, who is warning the county that its enforcement actions violate the First Amendment right to freedom of religion, also offers reasons for the secular to worry:

If the county thinks they can shut down groups of 10 or 15 Christians meeting in a home, what about people who meet regularly at home for poker night? What about people who meet for Tupperware parties? What about people who are meeting to watch baseball games on a regular basis and support the Chargers?

[Thanks to Tricky Vic for the tip.]

NEXT: Glenn Garvin on The Goode Family, The New Cartoon Series From Mike Judge

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. And this is exactly where Christians (like myself) need to put our efforts. Not on getting things INTO the schools, but getting the government OUT OF our lives. The only way to protect everyone’s right to religion and expression is to keep it separated.

  2. Still reading the horrid news Mad Max donned his cape and costume. Steeling himself for the battle ahead he returned to the story, for he realized that in his haste to prepare to defend the Mother Church he had not yet found out if the victims of this great injustice were indeed Catholics in good standing…

  3. The only way to protect everyone’s right to religion and expression is to keep it separated.

    The only right to religion you have is the obligation to worship the state.

    What part of being a good citizen do you not understand Morgan?

  4. Are the Chargers American League or National League?

  5. Are the Chargers American League or National League?

    Federal (Chrysler) League.

    Govball, the new national passtime.

  6. I lived on a street where there was someone who was running some kind of business (don’t know what it was) out of his house. It was residential. There were about 50 cars ’round the place all the time. When friends visited they had to park about 3 or 4 blocks away there were so many cars.

    I guess someone ratted the guy out and he shut down the store or moved it to an actual business place or whatever and the amount of litter and parking went back to normal. He still lives there as far as I know so I doubt that it was drugs.

    Maybe the preacher wanted to get his house tax deducted as a house of worship.

  7. WTF, San Diego? For a town whose name means “A Whale’s Vagina,” you sure aren’t very tolerant.

    Seriously, 15 people in a house needs a permit? Hell, why does a big old honkin’ megachurch even need a permit?

  8. Too bad Lefiti is not hear to hit us with a zinger that we all worship, wait for it, the Market. Oh, Snap!

  9. and too bad I can’t spell…..

  10. Pretty outrageous. And I hate religious people.

  11. Donate Now!

  12. Sounds like an extra-bonus violation of the first amendment. Not only are they being told they must get a permit to have a modest gathering at their home, they are told that the fact that it is a religious gathering plays a part in that requirement. If the ACLU doesn’t jump all over this, shame on them. I’m an atheist and I still find this exceptionally repugnant.

  13. I think freedom to assemble should be added to that list.

  14. I keeed, I keeed….

  15. “what about people who meet regularly at home for poker night?”

    Um, the government already comes after those people. After all, they are involved in the dread evil that is gambling! (Sigh.)

  16. Seriously, 15 people in a house needs a permit?

    What about a party?

    It’s gettin’ hot in here (so hot)
    So take off all your clothes
    I am gettin’ so hot, I wanna take my clothes off

  17. I am gettin’ so hot, I wanna take my clothes off

    The worst part of any party you attend.

  18. The worst part of any party you attend.

    Prude.

    If the ACLU doesn’t jump all over this, shame on them. I’m an atheist and I still find this exceptionally repugnant.

    Seconded.

  19. Right to peacefully assemble, right to free exercise of religion, right to freedom of speech. Violated.

  20. Episiarch – NELLY??! REALLY??! WTFOMG…

  21. My recollection is that the ACLU isn’t as interested in free exercise cases as it is in Establishment Clause cases. Unless, of course, the free exercise involves peyote.

  22. Broyles mistake came out right from the start.

    The county asked, “Do you have a regular meeting in your home?” She said, “Yes.”

    What she should have said was “Look, (insert beauracrat name), I know you’re just doing your job but I have nothing to say to you. Don’t come back without a warrant.”

    More and more I’m realizing that people should not answer any questions posed by the state/county unless compelled by court order or such.

  23. TAO, enjoy this. Then you will understand.

  24. There was a similar case in Virginia Beach a while back, with a bunch of Buddhist monks in a house. They came to some kind of settlement.

  25. wtf. one of the best places for practice of religion! double poop on San Diego.

    darn tootin, they should be allowed to meet in recognition of their faith! This conversation should never have to take place.

    PROGLIB @2.37: right on!!!

  26. …what about people who meet regularly at home for poker night?

    If you have another report of an illegal activity in someone’s home, we suggest you file it now, unless you would prefer to discuss it under enhanced interrogation techniques, sir.

    What about people who meet for Tupperware parties?

    The same goes for any reports of attempts to evade California state sales taxes. We can bring in federal officers if necessary — we’ve done it before.

    What about people who are meeting to watch baseball games on a regular basis and support the Chargers?

    Please contact the commissioners of major league baseball and the National Football League to determine if you are violating the terms of use of their broadcast by having too many people at your home. I hope for your sake you’re not pausing it on the TiVo to watch replays, since they may qualify as rebroadcasting without their express written consent. We will be in contact with the FCC and the FBI as necessary.

    Have a good day.

  27. Xeones,

    Huh. Buddhist monks suck. The proper settlement involved the city giving the church a brazillion dollars for the civil rights violation.

  28. What about people who are meeting to watch baseball games on a regular basis and support the Chargers?

    This does help explain the Chargers’ record last season.

  29. In or out of context the county official’s questions are pretty damning and will likely put the county in an adverse position in any legal proceedings.

    But to be contrarian, if there are 10 cars every week that park on the street outside his house (which was the proximate cause of the county investigation due to a complaint from the neighbors after one of the attendees hit another neighborhood car) there is a content neutral public interest*

    *nobody here likes zoning too much. I don’t like zoning too much. But there are likely nevertheless zoning restrictions wrt how many cars are expected to be parked in the neighborhood at any given time. It would take a better picture than the one provided by the website to judge whether or not this family’s activities actually have an undue impact on the neighborhood and the public rights of way.

  30. See that ship over there? They’re re-broadcasting Major League Baseball with implied oral consent, not express written consent-or so the legend goes.

  31. More and more I’m realizing that people should not answer any questions posed by the state/county unless compelled by court order or such.

    Never let them in the house without a warrant.
    Never answer any questions without a lawyer.
    Anything else opens you up to arbitrary and capricious abuse.

    Somewhere on Youtube is a law professor explaining why you should never talk to the cops. Essential viewing for the modern citizen.

  32. Is it fair to say that we really don’t know the whole story?

  33. Actually, when I think about this a little more, I realize what a great scam it is.

    I think that I’ll have 15 friends come over to my house every week. We’ll say a few prayers. I’ll then file to say that my house is tax exempt.

    The guy is a genius.

  34. More and more I’m realizing that people should not answer any questions posed by the state/county unless compelled by court order or such.

    We have a nice cool cell waiting for you where you can rethink that theory.

  35. Kolohe,

    The killer are the viewpoint/religious questions. The government loses on that–it’s a facially unconstitutional action.

    However, if the issue had been you can’t have eighty people living in a one-bedroom apartment (accepting for the moment the various zoning and health and safety regulations), then the fact that they’re a giant coven of witches is irrelevant, either way.

  36. “Listen, I’m all for freedom of religion and stuff, but if those snakes get out one more time, I’m calling the Planning and Zoning Board!”

  37. “Listen, I’m all for freedom of religion and stuff, but if those snakes get out one more time, I’m calling the Planning and Zoning Board!”

    “I hate snakes, Jacques! I hate ’em!”

  38. “C’mon, show a little backbone!”

  39. “Why’d it have to be snakes?”

  40. The killer are the viewpoint/religious questions. The government loses on that–it’s a facially unconstitutional action.

    That’s not how I am reading it. How I’m reading it is that there are a series of building that require a certain kind of permit. One of those buildings is “house of worship”. TO establish that this was a house of worship, the lawmen asked the questions necessary to arrive at the truth.

    How else would you have the zoning people determine what is and is not a house of worship?

  41. “The only way to protect everyone’s right to religion and expression is to keep it separated.”

    No, the only way to protect everyone’s right to religion and expression is to shrink the government as much as humanly possible as quickly as humanly possible. This is all about money and the state doing whatever it think it can get away with to grab up whatever it can.

  42. Here’s the don’t talk to the cops link on Youtube.

    “Mr. James Duane, a professor at Regent Law School and a former defense attorney, tells you why you should never agree to be interviewed by the police.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8z7NC5sgik

  43. I once asked an anti-theist the substantive difference between a lecture and a sermon.

    I got yelled at.

  44. TAO,

    It’s invalid. How many other types of gatherings are not required to have permits? Do you think they’re all listed? If not, facially invalid, because it discriminates on the basis of religion and on viewpoint.

  45. @Pro Lib-
    That’s exactly what I was getting at.

    @TAO-
    At first blush, I wouldn’t think you can go that far down that path because of first amendment issues, but after thinking about it some more, it probably happens pretty frequently but in reverse – i.e. the ‘house of worship’ is trying to push their status because of the tax exemption, with the govt pushing against it.

  46. ‘Still reading the horrid news Mad Max donned his cape and costume. Steeling himself for the battle ahead he returned to the story, for he realized that in his haste to prepare to defend the Mother Church he had not yet found out if the victims of this great injustice were indeed Catholics in good standing…’

    Then, to his horror, Mad Max realized that he had actually defended the rights of non-Christians to smoke marijuana for religious reasons.

    What penance should he do for defending non-Catholics? Max pondered the issue, and then he decided that he needed a penance which truly made him suffer. What was needed was a penance which would truly inflict pain and anguish upon himself.

    What about jumping into a pit of snakes? No, that wasn’t painful enough, and anyway Indiana Jones had already done it.

    So Max decided that his best bet was to post comments on a secularist blog and then read all the reply comments.

    “You Catholics sure are masochists,” said someone.

  47. What about people who congregate in private homes to bitch about what a bunch of corrupt, lying douches the Planning and Zoning people are?

  48. What if it had been a group of Republicans?

    I would’ve told the bureaucrat this: “No, we’re not a religion. We’re a cult.”

  49. Take this article with a huge grain of salt. It is my experience that no news report – broadcast or print – ever gets things 100% accurate. Couple this with the fact that there is NO government official on record, there is no other side presented. Color me very, very skeptical.

  50. If a Buddhist monk sets himself on fire to protest government oppression, will the fire marshal write him a ticket for open burning without a permit?

  51. P Brooks,

    Depends where he sets himself on fire.

  52. I’m with Thomas, both on general news reliability grounds and on the grounds that Christians seem to love to tell crazy stories about how they’re persecuted. Admittedly, government officials can be pretty amazingly stupid, but I’d still like to see some confirmation and elaboration of the details for this particular tale.

  53. Hmmm. Jesus folk getting bent outta shape for peaceful gathering and prayer get themselves into a lather about freedoms of expression and gathering. I wonder if they would have the same argument for a home based swingers club on the same block.

  54. Assuming that neighbor complaints drove this heavy-handed interference of the local officials – 10 cars on the street once a week? Get over it neighbors. What a bunch of whiny fuckin’ crybabies.

    Add me to the list of atheists that sees this whole thing as fucking outrageous. Local petty tyranny is the best face you could put on it.

  55. Christians should be thankful for the oppression. Christianity thrives when it is oppressed by the state and the mob.

  56. Hmmm. Jesus folk getting bent outta shape for peaceful gathering and prayer get themselves into a lather about freedoms of expression and gathering. I wonder if they would have the same argument for a home based swingers club on the same block.

    Can’t speak for the theists. I’d still be pissed with the same criticisms of both the offendsed neighbors and the city (county?) oficials.

    I am an equal opportunity righteous asshole.

  57. Holy Crap. What will this mean for the BDSM munches?

  58. 10 cars on the street once a week?

    I hear people bitching about legally registered cars parked on public streets “too long” or “in the wrong place” all the time. It’s fucking amazing. I can’t decide if it’s funny or terrifying.

  59. I live on a private road. If somebody leaves their car on my property, I tell ’em to get it the fuck out of there, or I’ll have it crushed.

  60. Once again, the question that rises in my mind: who turned them in?

    I doubt the county was parked in front of their home on a surveillance gig for three months, making a case. Someone has to call. And it’s always a fucking busy body neighbor. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, the rules aren’t there for the rulers to catch us, the rules are their for disgruntled neighbors to leverage against us.

  61. I live on a private road. If somebody leaves their car on my property, I tell ’em to get it the fuck out of there, or I’ll have it crushed.

    It was you, then, wasn’t it P Brooks?

  62. Papiere, bitte?

  63. Once again, the question that rises in my mind: who turned them in?

    One of the other articles on the linked website has this:

    Jones said a visitor to a neighbor’s house called the County after a Bible study member hit the visitor’s car while leaving.

    http://www.10news.com/news/19585458/detail.html

  64. “””Right to peacefully assemble, right to free exercise of religion, right to freedom of speech. Violated.”””

    But all those can be regulated, right? Sadly.

    Think Heller, lots of regulations does not equal infringement.

    I do think is BS, but America is becoming more and more BS. But what can you do, that’s effective?

  65. Gather in houses in groups of fifteen or more and discuss the overthrow of your local government?

  66. “””Gather in houses in groups of fifteen or more and discuss the overthrow of your local government?”””

    Yeah, and if you come up with a plan it better be a good one. Congress would be allowed to suspend Habeas, and the last attempt didn’t turn out to well for the southern states.

  67. It’s long past time for a revolution.

    If you work for or with the government, you are the enemy.

  68. I’d bet the county wouldn’t have a problem if the people in the house was working on someone’s re-election.

  69. Well, I wasn’t thinking civil war so much as the overthrow of the San Diego government. Maybe a few small rebellions would be good for our constitution. And our Constitution.

  70. I thouhght Judiasm was the religion most dependent on oppression.

  71. Man, the Chargers just need some help in the bullpen and they’ll be all set this year.

  72. “””Well, I wasn’t thinking civil war so much as the overthrow of the San Diego government. Maybe a few small rebellions would be good for our constitution. And our Constitution.”””

    lol, CA probably doesn’t have an insurrection clause. As long as you avoid the feds commerce clause, it might be ok. ;-).

    I think it would be good for our constitution.

  73. Okay, so these people can revolt against the San Diego government, so long as they don’t do any illegal drugs or practice any religion.

  74. ‘Christians should be thankful for the oppression. Christianity thrives when it is oppressed by the state and the mob.’

    The Libertarian Party might want to look into that.

  75. Take this article with a huge grain of salt. It is my experience that no news report – broadcast or print – ever gets things 100% accurate. Couple this with the fact that there is NO government official on record, there is no other side presented. Color me very, very skeptical.

    I understand what you’re saying, but there’s really very little to be skeptical about.

    The most charitable possible reading of San Diego’s action is summarized in Kolohe’s post. And since none of that impresses me, we’re left back at the original story.

    “No no no, we’re not oppressing religion, we’re just exercising a power we do not legitimately possess anyway,” is not really an effective counterargument to me.

  76. “No no no, we’re not oppressing religion, we’re just exercising a power we do not legitimately possess anyway,” is not really an effective counterargument to me.

    This is why you are not being considered for a spot on the Supreme Court.

  77. wait, what? Zoning powers don’t exist?

  78. wait, what? Zoning powers don’t exist?

    I said they don’t legitimately exist.

    The SCOTUS casings backing these practices up are fucking abortions.

    Here are a couple of clues that they’re illegitimate:

    1. This case. “Hi, I have a few questions before I violate your First and Fifth Amendment rights. Oh, but we’re doing it to preserve peace and quiet in areas we’ve arbitrarily labelled ‘residential’, so we’re not actually violating those rights at all.”

    2. The fact that virtually every SCOTUS decision on zoning has relied on “balancing” of “state interests” with enumerated rights. I don’t know of any case that engages in such balancing that isn’t a naked power grab by the state. Essentially the courts invented a doctrine that says, “Yes, we know certain rights have been enumerated, but it annoys us that those rights get in the way of some state end we want to see accomplished, so we’re just going to make shit up and pretend it’s OK to violate rights if we think we have a good reason.” And they did so openly.

  79. As a Muslim, I am outraged by this illegal action against the pastor which threatens people of all faiths. I call for the arrest, trial, conviction and imprisonment of all officials involved in executing this travesty.

  80. If only our religious people would start blowing themselves up for a cause.

    Knock knock.
    Who’s there?
    The police.
    Come on in. Praise Jesus.
    Ka-BOOM!

  81. “If you work for or with the government, you are the enemy.”

    Those loyalist bastards in the fire department will never know what hit them!

  82. J B-4:18

    That inlcudes republicans and all the troopsies.

  83. FLuffy-

    Somewhere, Hugo Black is smiling uopn you.

  84. The county asked, “Do you have a regular meeting in your home?”

    The correct answer to such an inquiry is “fuck you, get a warrant.”

    -jcr

  85. substantive difference between a lecture and a sermon.

    A sermon is a kind of lecture.

    -jcr

  86. “”””Evidently that was enough to qualify the house as a house of worship, meaning the hosts need a “major use permit,” which can cost tens of thousands of dollars to acquire.””””

    Ok, so they want to call it a house of worship. He’s save thousands on his new tax free status. 😉

  87. He’ll save thousands.

    Note to self
    Preview, preview, preview

  88. That inlcudes republicans and all the troopsies.

    Did I say otherwise? Some are just bigger enemies than others. There will come a time when people will have to decide what side they are on. That time is getting closer and closer.

  89. If it’s against the deed/zoning restrictions, then tough shit. I wouldn’t want to live next door to a “house of worship” – by definition you have crazy people congregating there, encouraging the further development of each other’s mental disorders and auditory/visual hallucinations.

    Instead of “Bible study” replace it with “Koran study” and these same people whining about this law being unfair would suddenly have no problem with it.

    Apparently a poker game or gathering to have a barbeque or watch a baseball game or celebrate a birthday or have a wake or open house does not require some sort of license or is not against the deed and/or zoning restrictions.

    The bottom line is that we shouldn’t be encouraging religious people to gather together and egg on each other’s “beliefs” – it’s asking for trouble. The only difference between a “religious study group” and “terrorist cell” is the passage of time. The only good part about this is that we known where they are so we can keep an eye on them. Of course, it’s likely that nobody does, since religion is oh so peaceful and precious….

    (…and when they do inevitably cause another faith-based terrorist attack, the survivors and victims and gawking spectators will pray and quote religious texts, in an amazing display of how deadly and contagious the religion disease truly is).

    I should also note that for people who are inclined to say there is a difference between Muslims and Christians vis a vis being prone to domestic terrorism, normally I would agree. Islam is, all else equal, far more dangerous than Christianity. However, the Republican-Christian Party (formerly the GOP) desperately wants a terrorist attack to occur on American soil. They crave it, they pray for it, and they wait for it every day since Obama took office, as they know blaming the next 9-11 on Obama is their only real chance of being able to scare the voters into putting them back into power (“See, the Democrats allowed this terrorist attack! We told you, only we can protect the American people from terrorists [well, except that one time]…”). Where there are Christian “Bible Study” groups, there are Republican-Christians, and they may get tired of waiting for Islamic terrorists to slip one by the FBI/CIA/NSA/etc and may take matters into their own faith-based hands, you know, to protect the children and American way of life from Obama, a small tax hike, and european socialism. Surely in their minds, a few thousand dead americans is a small sacrifice to get rid of their arch enemy, the Commie-Nigger, whom they all despise so much.

    So, if there are going to be Bible Study groups or any other such religious discussion group, they should be conducted in open, in a know, public Church, where it can be easily monitored. The right to privacy doesn’t cover th right to religious expression. And we’re at war against faith-based terrorism, so all religious people are potential enemies.

  90. ^
    |
    Somebody forgot his meds.

  91. BruceM | May 28, 2009, 10:26pm | #

    The bottom line is that we shouldn’t be encouraging religious people to gather together and egg on each other’s “beliefs” – it’s asking for trouble. The only difference between a “religious study group” and “terrorist cell” is the passage of time.

    As an atheist responding to this, I would like to say GOD DAMN YOU TO HELL. I have many Christian, Muslim, Bahai, and Jewish friends. None of them have done me any wrong, NEITHER YOU NOR I HAVE ANY FUCKING RIGHT TO INTERFERE WITH THEM.

    (Apologies to the decent people present for the screaming caps.)

  92. Aside from enforcing existing contracts and zoning restrictions I’m not saying we should “interfere” with them. I’m saying we should keep an eye on them.

    And there’s a difference between someone who calls themselves “christian” or “jewish” (or whatever other religion” who goes to services once or twice a year, and the type of people who gather at someone’s house for religious study groups. I have plenty of friends who consider themselves to be Christians, Jews, etc, but they don’t go gather at some “Bible study” or “Torah study” meetings at some guy’s house. They go to synagogue on Yom Kuppur and church on Easter.

    If they were really truly religious people they wouldn’t be friends with you, an atheist (I assume you don’t lie about being a religious person).

    Religion is a dangerous mental disorder and I refuse to “respect” it because that’s what political correctness demands. It’s only a matter of time before a faith-based terrorist unclasps his hands from prayer and gets them wrapped around a nuclear or biological weapon. They all have their doomsday prophecies that they masturbate to, waiting for “this life” to end so they can go hang out in paradise with their imaginary friends in the “next life” and are more than willing to kill millions of people to act as a servant of god when they get tired of waiting for “the rapture” to come. And it all starts at some innocent-sounding “religious prayer/study group” at someone’s house.

    There is nothing innocent about religion. There never has been all throughout history, and there never will be. You people need to figure out that religion has declared war on us, and it will eventually kill all mankind. Instead of yelling at people like me who point this out, we should be trying to find a cure for religion. It’s a clearly discernable genetic mental disorder. In fact, the same gene that controls skin pigmentation (melanin content) controls the part of the brain that causes religiosity (that’s why on average, there is a direct correlation between darker skin and being more “spiritual,” more prone to allowing religion to dominate their lives. Black atheists are almost nonexistant, while nearly all atheists are white. It has nothing to do with intelligence or culture, it’s entirely genetic (so don’t call me a racist). As such, I have sincere hope that maybe religion can be cured. Or at least prevented.

    But assholes like you would scream “that’s mean” and “that’s politically incorrect” as if people should be allowed to roam the streets in a violent, euphoric, delusional, manic state of mind, unable to think rationally and answering visual and auditory hallucinations, thinking that they have a direct, loving two-way relationship with the omniscient creator of the universe who cares about the most trivial facets of their life. Some of them who talk about their god-hallucinations too much DO, in fact, get locked up in mental hospitals. But the ones who can keep their mouths shut, or only talk about it at Church/Synagogue/Mosque among the other similarly ill people… well, they don’t get put away in a safe place, and they’re the ones who crash airplanes into buildings. All because of a genetic mental disorder nobody – not even those naturally immune to it – have a desire to cure!

    And have you even thought to yourself – why do they have the need to meet beyond official religious gatherings at church? For what purpose do they need to get together to “study”? Do you go to atheist study groups? I don’t, nor do I have any compulsion to go to someone’s home to discuss the writings of some atheist. Any religious questions they have they can ask at church or look up on google. These 15-people religious study groups are not innocent book clubs. They’re the seeds of terrorist cells. And I will not apologize for pointing it out.

    Bottom line – there’s a difference between tolerating something and encouraging it. Don’t confuse the two.

  93. Also sprach BruceM:

    “we should be trying to find a cure for religion. It’s a clearly discernable genetic mental disorder. In fact, the same gene that controls skin pigmentation (melanin content) controls the part of the brain that causes religiosity (that’s why on average, there is a direct correlation between darker skin and being more “spiritual,” more prone to allowing religion to dominate their lives. Black atheists are almost nonexistant, while nearly all atheists are white. It has nothing to do with intelligence or culture, it’s entirely genetic (so don’t call me a racist).”

    ===

    Yeah, BrianM, you’re a racist. And you give other mental defectives a bad rep. Click on the link at my name above to visit the url to get the help you so desperately need and for which you are crying out.

  94. By your logic it’s racist to say black people are more likely to have curly hair than white people?

    I’m not saying those with darker skin are in any way lesser people or inferior. I’m saying religiosity as a whole is bad, the skin color of the people being religious has nothing to do with it. I merely point out the correlation as some evidence that religiosity is genetic. But anytime anyone suggests any innate difference between the races (even hair type) morons will automatically howl racism and throw dung.

    I don’t expect most people to agree with me, I just want to be on record as having said it so I can continue to point out that I’ve been right all along. And I don’t expect anyone to cure themselves of religion due to anything I say, either.

    But it pisses me off when people sit around talking as if religious behavior should be encouraged. It should be discouraged to the extent legally possible. And if enforcing a pre-existing zoning restriction will do that, then good luck to the state (probably the first time I’ve ever said that).

    But the arguments I’m making will be made much more loudly and vocally, and ultimately more effectively, by Christians once some Muslims want to turn their home into a mini-Mosque. Then you’ll see how to properly initiate process and make politically correct arguments to shut down a home “prayer group.” And nobody but the Muslims will think anything less about them.

  95. BruceM has set a new record for the most ridiculous anti-religion posts on H&R. And that’s saying something. When you get some of the strongly anti-religious folks here saying BruceM has gone too far, you know you’ve found the extreme.

    For BruceM, apparently, the only acceptable religion is a social club, and boy do we need to watch them darkies and A-rabs, cause that melanin sure makes ’em feverish around bombs and religion.

    BruceM, surely you’re aware most people reading you think you insane. Hell, it’s probably a badge of honor for you. If you’re not insane, please cite a source for your melanin = religion bit that doesn’t come from the fever swamps of xeroxed newsletters circulated by folks the John Birchers think are too extreme.

    And have you even thought to yourself – why do they have the need to meet beyond official religious gatherings at church? For what purpose do they need to get together to “study”? Do you go to atheist study groups? I don’t, nor do I have any compulsion to go to someone’s home to discuss the writings of some atheist. Any religious questions they have they can ask at church or look up on google.

    Maybe because the find it useful, something like students at a university getting together to cram for a test? Maybe because they like to company of hanging out with each other? Maybe because they think what they are studying is important and that they can offer personal insight to each other that they couldn’t offer if, I don’t know, they didn’t meet? Just because you don’t have an impulse doesn’t mean that others don’t. Or are you self absorbed that you really believe that others who see things differently are simply wrong?

    These 15-people religious study groups are not innocent book clubs. They’re the seeds of terrorist cells. And I will not apologize for pointing it out.

    This is the most laughably stupid comment I’ve seen on H&R for some time. If you’re right, why aren’t we awash in domestic religious terrorism? After all, these “seeds” were planted in the Americas at least as far back as the 1600s. Or are they just the slow germinating variety?

    Frankly, the person who most scares me with what seems a ready propensity for violence that could turn into terrorism is you, not some folks who want to read the Bible together. You’ve already shown yourself comfortable with using state force to suppress religion (under the guise of zoning ordinances), so what about just a little more force like, I don’t know, rounding up all the religious people in ghettos and making them leave the pure, enlightened (for you, that probably refers to skin color) atheists alone? There is more potential for violence in your statements and desires than anything I’ve seen come from home Bible study group.

    -UM

  96. mark, great link. BruceM should read it, but he’d just conclude that the Chinese government got it right and wonder why the hid the fact that the Chinese Christians are all a bunch a nigras… (Somehow they must be, right?)

  97. BruceM is the kind of atheist who makes atheists reconsider their positions and think that maybe the fundies are rational…

  98. BruceM is the kind of atheist who makes atheists reconsider their positions and think that maybe the fundies are rational…

    No he isn’t. Fundies are not rational. But I respect their right to be irrational, with the constant caveat that they can’t force any of what they believe on me.

    BruceM is an anti-theist, which holds the same tenuous relationship with atheism that Randism holds with the dominant form of libertarianism on this board. That is to say: yes they are related, but not synonymous and not inter-responsible for each others extremes.

    That’s not to say that I don’t criticize religions and the people that follow them, especially when they try and impose themselves on me or attack the boundaries that rationality puts up between the religious and secular worlds, but I support live and let live. Anti-theists do not.

    Although, I will say this in anti-theism’s defense: No one comes to anti-theism through rationality, it is a violent reaction to the shattering of strong religious beliefs. Anti-theism is an auto-immune disorder brought on by religious fervor, not an extreme form of atheism.

  99. SugerFree, you are of course correct. There are a number of anti-theists on H&R, though, and most of them would, I think, find BruceM extreme.

    (I should note that many H&R commenters commit the mirror fallacy of what you pointed out in my comment: They conflate militant fundamentalism with religion.)

    I do think that, by comparison to BruceM, the fundies are pretty rational. Most of them want to “save” you but aren’t going to try to force you to join them (they are sorry that you won’t and feel that you’re making the wrong choice). Certain stripes of them like having political power, but many are actually opposed to it as well. Some of them are even strongly in favor of separation of church and state because they realize the potential of for the state to be used against them. I may disagree with them on points, but I can talk to them. BruceM, on the other hand, will brook no opposition or disagreement.

    (I’m no fan of fundies, but agree with you about them in general. I don’t even mind if they try to proselyte to me because, if they really believe that I’m going to hell for not subscribing to their brand of Christianity, I would expect them to at least try to give me an opportunity to avoid an eternity of misery. As long as they respect that I have the right to choose that eternity of misery, I’m fine.)

    The anti-theist position of BruceM, however, does scare me, because in the views he articulated, the force of the state should be actively used to harass religion and discourage religious folks.

  100. By the way, if you accept the fundies’ premises about the nature of the universe, their behavior is actually pretty rational and understandable. If you don’t accept those premises, it is not. But the thinking isn’t fundamentally bad. You could argue it’s misguided, but it’s not that they don’t know how to think. Since neither side is provable (and reason breaks down for answering questions like “Why is there something rather than nothing?”), I think both sides should have a little more tolerance for the other rather than acting like the other side consists of a bunch of mouth-breathing idiots.

  101. Wow. I looked up this melanin-religion bit on Google and found that it really is out there in the fever swamps. It’s cited by black power sites (like this one) and gets attacked on white supremacist sites (like this one). BruceM has done the interesting mental gymnastics of taking thoroughly debunked pseudo-science, taking it as a given, and reversing the value placed on the interpretation. I’ll give him points for creativity in using pure and utter BS to “explain” religion, but he won’t be able to cite a single credible source for what he’s arguing, because there is none.

  102. TO: All
    RE: Heh

    It’s not like we REAL christians haven’t seen this coming.

    As I like to say, “Welcome to the Great Apostasy.” Early stages.

    And, it will get continually worse. But no matter how bad it gets-and it’s going to get VERY BAD-because we were warned about it by Him, almost 2000 years ago, we’ve confidence in the final out come.

    After all….

    …..we’re read the end of the Book.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [What can separate us?]

  103. This would never happen to the Reverand Wright.

  104. Can they go after the Neo-Pagans and their silly covens next?

  105. If these same 15 people were gathering weekly to plan a campaign for their local whales, trees, or liberal candidate I’m pretty certain they wouldn’t need a permit to do so.

    Or, if they were gathering every week to watch a sports event on the pastor’s wide screen TV, eat some veggie burgers and throw back a few organically brewed beers there’d no permit or fees required, either, I’ll bet.

    So it doesn’t get much more obvious than this: this group’s First Amendment rights are being violated. Probably a few other rights, too. But I doubt any SoCal attorney is going to rush forward to represent them.

    Where do we send our contributions for their defense or their fines?

  106. Heh. I dare BruceM to head down to his local mosque and spout off his tolerant and well-reasoned opinions there.

  107. I don’t think the Chargers have 15 regular viewers.

    So the question is- is this a religious persecution or a simple government shakedown? Or both? Ahhh, Change.

  108. Don’t forget about people meeting to complain about the local government and plan a course of action: like deciding it’s time for a new mayor. Or coming up with plans to participate in local issues.

    You know one of the reasons I ended up becoming an athiest is the writings of Richard Dawkins, but even he is at total ass. I’ve read an interview with him and a few other prominent athiests in Wired where he says (paraphrased) “parents shouldn’t teach their kids religion. I don’t want to intrude on the rights of people to raise their kids how they want, but we need to start thinking about drawing lines somewhere”

    You don’t need religion to think it’s ok to try to control others’ lives and limit human freedom.

  109. Book clubs will be next. You are reading and discussing Liberal Fascism/Atlas Shrugged/The Road to Serfdom/The Moon is a Harsh Mistress? That makes this a political organization affiliated with the GOP and subject to campaign finance laws. Either shut down or apply for official sanction and pay for the proper licenses.

  110. I don’t have a problem with a group of people meeting at the home of a friend for some occasion, whatever the purpose, but if someone is operating a church out of their home on a regular basis in a residential area, I got a problem with that. I think I’ve got the right to peace and quiet in my home, and I don’t think I need to be listening to the coming and going of 15 to 20 people who visit my neighborhood simultaneously once more times a week. The obvious on street parking is another hassle. What if I want to have a couple of friends visit? Your rights end at the beginning of mine.

  111. I don’t have a problem with a group of people meeting at the home of a friend for some occasion, whatever the purpose, but if someone is operating a church out of their home on a regular basis in a residential area, I got a problem with that.

    Where do you draw the line? Having 15 people over once a week in a place where you live full time isn’t exactly operating a church. Part of the problem here is that it was obvious that the specific question was whether they were using it for a religious purpose, rather than, say, hanging out barbecuing, discussing books, or even running a (free) swingers’ club, which would cause an equal annoyance to the neighbors. Thus religious expression was singled out for a restriction that a book club wouldn’t have. Had they answered that they just had weekly canasta parties there would have been no citation for “unlawful use of property.”

    It’s not clear that “peace and quiet” was the issue at hand. Yes, there was damage to a car, but that’s something for the vehicle owners and their insurance to settle, not to shut them down over.

    I should nod to the libertarian argument that part of the problem is that there is no clear ownership of the road, so there was a negative externality from the Bible study group’s parking issues. Because no one owns it, there is no reason to not use it. It reminds me of when I lived two blocks away from a university football stadium after I got married. If the Bible study group got shut down for their bit, the university should have had to cancel football games because of the hassle they caused me: cars parking in my driveway on occasion (I never had to have one towed), hours of delay driving in my neighborhood, noisy people, etc. If a 15-member study group should have to pay tens of thousands of dollars in usage fees just to meet in their pastor’s home, what does that say about the real negative externality of the college football game?

  112. And you give other mental defectives a bad rep.

    Actually, I think Lonewacko, JB ‘n ’em look better by comparison.

  113. So, am I breaking the law when I and other members of my synagogue attend a shiva minyan?

  114. Since the Chargers were mentioned….

    A San Diego elementary school teacher, on the first day of class, asked all the Chargers fans in the class to raise their hands. Everyone raised a hand, except for Mary. The teacher asked why she wasn’t a Chargers fan.

    Mary said, “Well, my parents are from Kansas City, so I’m a Chiefs fan”. The teacher responded, “So, if your mother were a crack whore, and your father were her pimp and pusher, what would THAT make you?”

    Mary replied uncertainly “Um… A Raiders fan?”

  115. TO: All
    RE: Easy Peasy, Hypocrite

    “I don’t have a problem with a group of people meeting at the home of a friend for some occasion, whatever the purpose, but if someone is operating a church out of their home on a regular basis in a residential area, I got a problem with that. I think I’ve got the right to peace and quiet in my home.” — Easy Peasy

    I guess they don’t have any city ordinances about disturbing the peace where this character lives. Or they don’t have parking ordinances either.

    So, his/her problem boils down to thost godless Bible-Thumpers.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [Where there is no religion, hypocrisy becomes good taste.]

  116. I wonder if they would have let them alone if the pastor they were from a gay church.

  117. …if the pastor told them

    Oh, never mind.

  118. First of all, everyone’s HOME IS THEIR CASTLE. It’s the law!

    That the County of San Diego wants money? Or just wants to harass the homeowners, it’s hard to tell. HOWEVER, yesterday DRUDGE ran this story. Today, Glenn Reynolds.

    This means LAWYERS have seen this. And, they can smell a successful suit from miles away. The San Diego County officials don’t have a leg to stand on. This harassment is against STATE law, as well as FEDERAL law. And, lawyers always make money when government officials play ‘stupid.’ To the homeowners of San Diego Country, however, those legal bills won’t be peanuts. And, you’ll lose services in the bargain. UNLESS? The City Council chaps get frightened over being pulled out of office. At election time. Or RECALL. Don’t laugh.

  119. I live in San Diego greater. Most of the people who call the law on neighbors are just cranks with time on their hands and hostility to others. Lots of old people do not age well and spend their time ratting out neighbors and being a real community blight, instead of doing the right thing ans sticking their worthless heads into the stove. In my own case I had a particularly awful person file an insanely false report that I had people living in my garage (apparently they were illegal aliens sleeping on the hoods of my two cars to keep warm). The city insisted that they had to see in my garage, so I went along with it, they came along and took pictures. The investigating “officer” was a “badged” building inspector (no doubt they’re badged so they can be considered California public safety officers like the hair salon inspectors are, and get in on the giant pension scam that is wrecking the state). The inspector admitted that most of his calls were by cranks causing trouble for neighbors, but they keep on going out anyway. This woman had made many such fradulent reports, but they took no action against her, no doubt to provide an excuse to shuffle papers (hey, I’ve worked in public corporate administration, I know how the game is played). I let them inspect the garage only through the door and did not let them in my house proper, but I actually should have told them to get a warrant and so should you(I asked what the consequences of refusal were and was told probably nothing, they wouldn’t get a warrant and would ignore the report given the source…that says it all). The fact that citizens have to put up with this crap from their “servants” is an outrage, and although I am an agnostic myself, I wish these people the best at kicking the city’s butt. A weekly prayer meeting for a few hours is not a big deal that seriously affects other’s lives, its just that so many people have become self-absorbed, intolerant, entitled and vile navel-gazers, especially her on the nanny coast.

  120. ?it’s entirely genetic (so don’t call me a racist).

    That’s a whole generation of Nazi eugenicists said about the Jews, too. Just because you say it’s genetic (it’s not) doesn’t mean you aren’t racist (you are).

  121. So Art-POG, I’m a mental defective because you don’t agree with me?

    On what issue, btw?

  122. I think all of us Christians, quasi christians (believe but don’t go to church) and anyone else who wants to, should march on (i.e., picket) the city counsel downtown and burn the California flag.

  123. TO: Kathy
    RE: Out of Curiosity….

    I think all of us Christians, quasi christians (believe but don’t go to church) and anyone else who wants to, should march on (i.e., picket) the city counsel downtown and burn the California flag. — Kathy

    What did California do? I seem to recall that the problem was with some cretinous bureaucrat from San Diego County. Not from the Great State of California.

    Or are you an agent provocateur?

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [The great atrocities of our civilization have rarely been the acts of generals or presidents or kings. They have been the doings of petty bureaucrats acting within the strict confines of the law. — Alain Simon]

  124. On what issue, btw?

    ‘Mental defective’ is a little harsh. “Unique” personality, maybe.

  125. My bullshit detector is going off. Loudly. My best guess is that Reason and all the dutifully outraged commenters in this thread are going to have egg on their faces by the time the truth about this case emerges. The account of the questions asked by the curiously unnamed San Diego “officials” sounds way too pat and too perfect. It smacks of the kind of thing that a certain shade of fundie Christian would invent to provide proof of the terrible persecution that Jeebus’s people (constituting a mere 76% majority in the U.S.A.) must endure in a nation that has supposedly abandoned God.

  126. TO: Rogier
    RE: Heh

    “My bullshit detector is going off.” — Rogier

    Sounds like you need to send it back to third-echelon maintenance to get it recalibrated.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)

  127. TO: All
    RE: Rogier’s ‘Mentality’

    See what I was ‘talking about’ in my comment at May 29, 2009, 10:01am in this thread.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [Hang on to your hats, the ‘fun’ is just beginning.]

  128. third-echelon maintenance

    Former military?

  129. TO: Art-P.O.G.
    RE: Heh

    “Former military?” — Art-P.O.G.

    Is the Pope Catholic?

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [I don’t know what this damned logistics is. All I know is that I want some. — anonymous WWI US Army General]

  130. P.S. There is NO SUCH THINK….

    ….as ‘Former Military’.

    Having worked mobilization support operations for nigh on 20 years in the Army, I’ve learned that they can call you back at ANY TIME!

    And if you don’t respond in a ‘satisfactory’ manner….you go to Leavenworth for what we called the LONG ‘course’.

    So. Based on what I’ve since. Once a soldier, always a soldier. Whether you like it or not.

  131. P.P.S. And, oddly enough, I just with they WOULD call me back.

    I feel like a retired dalmation, chained to the firehouse wall as the engines go screaming out the door……{heavy sigh}…..

  132. Color me very, very skeptical.

    Of course, Thomas, of course.

  133. “And this is exactly where Christians (like myself) need to put our efforts. Not on getting things INTO the schools, but getting the government OUT OF our lives. The only way to protect everyone’s right to religion and expression is to keep it separated.”

    I find it interesting how the religious right wants government out of their lives, but only when it has an impact on their own expression and beliefs. They feel their rights are being violated, and yet they’re the ones trying to make states (CA – as stated in this article) nullify same-sex marriages. I think the first response has the right idea – separate religion and give everyone protection for expression. Separation of church and state – marriage is religious, but the title has legal validity. Perhaps marriage should be reserved for religious ceremonies and the state and federal government should recognize civil unions for all couples in a committed relationship. Thoughts?

  134. I think the Bible is a bunch of baloney, but this kind of action is totally uncalled for!

    I am fully on the side of the pastor and his wife holding their Bible study sessions. Officials of no kind have no business interfering in their lives this way.

    I hope it gets resolved in the pastor’s favor.

  135. I’m pretty sure they can find some sort of Buddhist meditation session occurring in someone’s house in that county. Wonder if they’re going to bust those as well?

    The officers/officials who harassed this group need to renounce their citizenship and move to mainland China. Then they can harass people over religion all they want.

  136. TO: Phil
    RE: Perhaps….

    I think the Bible is a bunch of baloney…. — Phil

    We can talk about that idea at http://www.comensarations.info. Or HERE….if you will.

    ….but this kind of action is totally uncalled for! — Phil

    Good for you.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    P.S. I DO have ‘proofs’ that it isn’t “a bunch of baloney”. The problem is that most people who started off thinking the way you do don’t have the courage to recognize the proofs.

    It seems to me to be something of what we in the Army would call a ‘personal problem’. And I think it has a LOT to do with a concept known as ‘pride’…..

    1. Already an ad hominem? Nice… 🙂

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.