16 March 2010

Religious Freedom? Really?

A recent FoxNews.com / Associated Press article outlines a battle that is going on between the Oasis of Truth Church in Gilbert, Arizona and the local community. According to the article, the town's code forbids religious meetings of any form in private homes.

As a homeowner and a pastor, this idea makes me laugh so hard, my neighbors will probably call the police to see if anything is wrong.

Freedom of Religion means exactly that. House Churches are doing what they believe is best to follow the example of the ancient Church, meeting in smaller groups in homes, fellowshipping, sharing meals, worshipping, studying the Word of God. No civil authority has the right to ban such assemblies in the United States; nor would any homeowner's association or other 'authoritative' body.

All too often, the justification used to object to such gatherings is that they are loud, obnoxious, or clog side streets not designed for such traffic. In that case, it's time to ban kids birthday parties, family gatherings, and anything else that would cause people to park on streets. People having parties have to keep the volume down and keep it inside. No backyard BBQ when you have your family over. And if your friends are Church friends and you say grace before meals, well, that constitutes a religious practice in an assembly of people whose only relation to you is ecclesiastical (and thus religious). Out with them! Out with them all!

Taxes, Census, House Church discrimination. Boy, it must be springtime in America.

UPDATE: The leadership of the community evidently have a different view of matters than the Zoning Enforcement officer mentioned in the story. The mayor and town manager worshipped with the community this past Sunday, and on Monday put out a press release stating that changes to the zoning code were being expedited. One still wonders why the prohibitions were there to begin with, but praise God for this victory!


All original material (C) 2007-2010 by Father Robert Lyons.

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