Another U.S. community is fining a family for the “crime” of conducting a home Bible study without getting the proper permits. Shane and Marlene Roessiger face a fine of $250 a day from Venice, Florida, after city officials determined that the couple were conducting an unauthorized “house of worship” at their residence because of the Bible study that brings six to ten individuals there each Friday night.
According to the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), the California-based legal advocacy group that is representing the couple in the legal proceedings, the Roessigers have a small Christian outreach called In Him Healing Touch Ministries. When they started the ministry the Roessigers chose to get their mail at home instead of renting a post office box. Now, “Venice Code Enforcement officials are using the listing of the residence as the ministry's address to build a case against the Roessigers,”explained PJI. “In addition to prayer and Bible study, the ministry has food outreaches in the community and engages in foreign missions work. The latter includes ministering to people living in garbage dumps through providing meals and religious services.”
The import of such civic outreach, however, does not seem to penetrate the hearts or minds of Venice officials, who are fining the couple $250 daily for violating zoning laws by holding the weekly Bible studies. PJI's president, Brad Dacus, told Fox News that such a heavy-handed reaction is completely out of line. “It’s a weekly Bible study,” he emphasized. “It’s the same kind of Bible study that occurs in households across America.” He noted that city officials are “having a specific problem with this family solely because they are having family and friends over to read the Bible and pray. That may be fine in some tyrannical parts of the world. That is not okay in the United States of America.”
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Photo: The Roessiger home