Monday, November 24, 2008

America the Beautiful, San Diego County the wretched

Howdy, Dean here. B-Daddy has been gracious enough to let me do some spot/guest blogging at his outstanding site. I can be found regularly in the first person plural at Beers with Demo.

Given the name and intent of this site I thought this post was a good fit as it deals with freedoms and liberties granted by the Almighty and guaranteed by the Constitution.

You can read our previous posts here on the matter but what this involves is the congregants of the Guatay Christian Fellowship being allowed to return to their house of worship after a Federal judge, this past week, struck down a cease and desist order levied by San Diego County as those paragons of justice at the county discovered that the worshippers were running afoul of the law as they were exercising their 1st amendment rights in a structure that had been originally permitted as a bar some 22 years ago and not a church. Da horrah!

This is the sort of super-sleuthing and fantastic application of the law, if not common sense that makes me proud to be a San Diegan. I mean, if we're not going to pay people to kick citizens out of their house of worship, then what the hell are we paying them to do?

From the original cease and desist handed down back in May of this year, the legal wrangling was on. Offers of pro bono defense of the church came in from around the country and the county offered up lame posturing as to the legality of freedom of assembly and worship. The county realizing it had an absolute P.R. disaster on its hands, simultaneously back-peddled and attempted to save face by playing the code violations card. The dreaded ‘unsafe wiring’ and ‘improperly braced water heater’ were uncovered at subsequent inspections in the interim as the church congregation would occasionally defy the order and exercise their constitutional 1st amendment rights by holding services in the building

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller said the county’s order caused “significant irreparable harm” to the church and members but did also rule that the church must apply for a major use permit to continue worshipping in the building, as county officials have demanded.

According to article here and from his appearance on Hedgecock’s show on Monday, Pastor Stan Peterson will apply for the permit but does not know where the money for permit fees, environmental impact reports and legal fees will come from.

Folks, if you do get a chance, please go through the related posts linked above. We’ve followed this case pretty closely, have gone out to the church to attend services and talked to some of the principles involved back in August and using as fair and clear-minded reasoning as we can be accused of, we’ve come to the conclusion that the church has been getting squeezed and jerked around by an out-of-control bureaucracy. Think about it: Thousands of dollars for permitting and environmental impact reports for an existing structure that has been used by the church for 22 years.

Fortunately, help may be on the way. The attorney representing the Church, Peter Lepiscopo, has said that despite the favorable(?) ruling, he still plans to seek monetary damages against the county for violation of the church members’ civil rights and the judge's “significant irreparable harm” statement would appear to kick that door wide open.

We wish Peter and the Church the best and we hope they own a piece (of the backside) of San Diego County by the time a verdict or settlement is reached.


  1. Dean, thanks for the update and indeed it is in the spirit and intent of this blog.

  2. Come to think of it, I'm not sure this blog has filed appropriate environmental impact statements ...