Tuesday, August 4, 2009
“Not too long ago two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, "We don't know how lucky we are." And the Cuban stopped and said, "How lucky you are! I had someplace to escape to." In that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth. And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except to sovereign people, is still the newest and most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man. This is the issue of this election. Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”
We would be wise to quickly look at how far we have come in so short a time.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
SC Congressional Delegation to support the
Government Ownership Exit Plan Act of 2009
Legislation would stop the purchase of private entities, set a timetable to sell assets, re-privatize Fannie & Freddie, and create penalties for elected officials attempting to influence the management of private businesses
Clinton, S.C. – June 18, 2009 – Laurens County legislator and third congressional district candidate Jeff Duncan sent an open letter to the SC Congressional delegation today, urging them to support the Government Ownership Exit Plan Act of 2009. The legislation which originated from Senator John Thune R-SD, sets clear restrictions on the use of federal TARP funds. The legislation immediately blocks the federal government from purchasing of any additional shares of private businesses and sets a deadline of July 1, 2009 for the government to sell any remaining corporate holdings.
The Troubled Asset Relief Program or TARP was originally established to purchase “toxic assets” from banks and other corporate organizations. However, most of the near $800 billion in TARP funds have instead been used to purchase ownership stakes in automotive companies and financial institutions. Another controversy has arisen over the “recycling” of TARP funds. Under the status quo, when corporations pay back the TARP funds to the federal government, instead of the revenue being used to pay down the deficit, the money is returned to the TARP fund for the purchasing of more corporate assets.
“The government’s intrusion into the management of private businesses is disgraceful, and un-American. The GOEP Act is the first step towards returning some fiscal sanity to Washington. President Obama has said that he wants to end the government ownership of businesses as soon as possible. Therefore I see no reason why he, his colleagues, and all Republican members of Congress would not support this legislation in its entirety,” said Rep. Jeff Duncan.
Rep. Duncan states that he felt it was important to bring this legislation to the attention of the voters in the 3rd Congressional District. “Everywhere I’ve traveled in the district, voters have been furious with the irresponsibility they have seen lately in Washington. When I learned of Senator Thune’s legislation, I wanted to act and show the voters of South Carolina that there is a clear and reasonable solution to this particular problem. We can’t afford to wait another day without taking action on this issue, and that is why I’m urging South Carolina’s Congressional delegation to act immediately to address the problem.”
Rep. Jeff Duncan is running for the 3rd Congressional District seat being vacated by Congressman Gresham Barrett.
Monday, June 8, 2009
With all of the hoopla over the "Stimulus" money - I decided to look the actual bill up and read it for myself.....I am going to try to highlight in RED who has responsibility to spend the money.....I haven't seen the "Clyburn" Amendment - but it is clear that the Legislative intent of Congress is to give the Governor the spending authority.......maybe the SC Supreme Court sees something I don't in here or has more information than is on the U. S. Dept. of Education web site at:
This is posted here for you to decide for yourself.....if you so choose to be informed.....
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
Public Law 111-5 (H.R. 1), February 17, 2009; 123 Stat. 115
As amended by Public Law 111-8 (H.R. 1105), the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009; Division A, Section 523; March 11, 2009; 123 Stat. 524
Below are excerpts from Public Law 111-5, as amended by Public Law 111-8, that relate to the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund administered by the U.S. Department of Education. The U.S. Department of Education has posted this information as a courtesy to readers. The official (and controlling) texts of this material will be printed in those two Public Laws.
DIVISION A, TITLE XIV – STATE FISCAL STABILIZATION FUND
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
STATE FISCAL STABILIZATION FUND
For necessary expenses for a State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, $53,600,000,000, which shall be administered by the Department of Education.
GENERAL PROVISIONS – THIS TITLE
SEC. 14001. ALLOCATIONS.
(a) Outlying Areas. From the amount appropriated to carry out this title, the Secretary of Education shall first allocate up to one-half of 1 percent to the outlying areas on the basis of their respective needs, as determined by the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior, for activities consistent with this title under such terms and conditions as the Secretary may determine.
(b) Administration and Oversight. The Secretary may, in addition, reserve up to $14,000,000 for administration and oversight of this title, including for program evaluation.
(c) Reservation for Additional Programs. After reserving funds under subsections (a) and (b), the Secretary shall reserve $5,000,000,000 for grants under sections 14006 and 14007.
(d) State Allocations. After carrying out subsections (a), (b), and (c), the Secretary shall allocate the remaining funds made available to carry out this title to the States as follows:
(1) 61 percent on the basis of their relative population of individuals aged 5 through 24.
(2) 39 percent on the basis of their relative total population.
(e) State Grants. From funds allocated under subsection (d), the Secretary shall make grants to the Governor of each State.
(f) Reallocation. The Governor shall return to the Secretary any funds received under subsection (e) that the Governor does not award as subgrants or otherwise commit within two years of receiving such funds, and the Secretary shall reallocate such funds to the remaining States in accordance with subsection (d).
SEC. 14002. STATE USES OF FUNDS.
(a) Education Fund.
(1) In general. For each fiscal year, the Governor shall use 81.8 percent of the State's allocation under section 14001(d) for the support of elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education and, as applicable, early childhood education programs and services.
(2) Restoring state support for education.
(A) In general. The Governor shall first use the funds described in paragraph (1)—
(i) to provide the amount of funds, through the State's primary elementary and secondary education funding formulae, that is needed—
(I) to restore, in each of fiscal years 2009, 2010, and 2011, the level of State support provided through such formulae to the greater of the fiscal year 2008 or fiscal year 2009 level; and
(II) where applicable, to allow existing State formulae increases to support elementary and secondary education for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 to be implemented and allow funding for phasing in State equity and adequacy adjustments, if such increases were enacted pursuant to State law prior to October 1, 2008.
(ii) to provide, in each of fiscal years 2009, 2010, and 2011, the amount of funds to public institutions of higher education in the State that is needed to restore State support for such institutions (excluding tuition and fees paid by students) to the greater of the fiscal year 2008 or fiscal year 2009 level.
(B) Shortfall. If the Governor determines that the amount of funds available under paragraph (1) is insufficient to support, in each of fiscal years 2009, 2010, and 2011, public elementary, secondary, and higher education at the levels described in clauses (i) and (ii) of subparagraph (A), the Governor shall allocate those funds between those clauses in proportion to the relative shortfall in State support for the education sectors described in those clauses.
(C) Fiscal year. For purposes of this paragraph, the term "fiscal year'' shall have the meaning given such term under State law.
(3) Subgrants to improve basic programs operated by local educational agencies.--After carrying out paragraph (2), the Governor shall use any funds remaining under paragraph (1) to provide local educational agencies in the State with subgrants based on their relative shares of funding under part A of title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 6311 et seq.) for the most recent year for which data are available.
(b) Other Government Services.
(1) In general. The Governor shall use 18.2 percent of the State's allocation under section 14001(d) for public safety and other government services, which may include assistance for elementary and secondary education and public institutions of higher education, and for modernization, renovation, or repair of public school facilities and institutions of higher education facilities, including modernization, renovation, and repairs that are consistent with a recognized green building rating system.
(2) Availability to all institutions of higher education. A Governor shall not consider the type or mission of an institution of higher education, and shall consider any institution for funding for modernization, renovation, and repairs within the State that—
(A) qualifies as an institution of higher education, as defined in subsection 14013(3); and
(B) continues to be eligible to participate in the programs under title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965.
(c) Rule of Construction. Nothing in this section shall allow a local educational agency to engage in school modernization, renovation, or repair that is inconsistent with State law.
SEC. 14003. USES OF FUNDS BY LOCAL EDUCATIONAL AGENCIES.
(a) In General. local educational agency that receives funds under this title may use he funds for any activity authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 6301 et seq.) ("SEA''), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.) ("IDEA''), the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (20 U.S.C. 9201 et seq.), or the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (20 U.S.C. 2301 et seq.) ("the Perkins Act'') or for modernization, renovation, or repair of public school facilities, including modernization, renovation, and repairs that are consistent with a recognized green building rating system.
(b) Prohibition. A local educational agency may not use funds received under this title for—
(1) payment of maintenance costs;
(2) stadiums or other facilities primarily used for athletic contests or exhibitions or other events for which admission is charged to the general public;
(3) purchase or upgrade of vehicles; or
(4) improvement of stand-alone facilities whose purpose is not the education of children, including central office administration or operations or logistical support facilities.
(c) Rule of Construction. Nothing in this section shall allow a local educational agency to engage in school modernization, renovation, or repair that is inconsistent with State law.
SEC. 14004. USES OF FUNDS BY INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION.
(a) In General. A public institution of higher education that receives funds under this title shall use the funds for education and general expenditures, and in such a way as to mitigate the need to raise tuition and fees for in-State students, or for modernization, renovation, or repair of institution of higher education facilities that are primarily used for instruction, research, or student housing, including modernization, renovation, and repairs that are consistent with a recognized green building rating system.
(b) Prohibition. An institution of higher education may not use funds received under this title to increase its endowment.
(c) Additional Prohibition. No funds awarded under this title may be used for—
(1) the maintenance of systems, equipment, or facilities;
(2) modernization, renovation, or repair of stadiums or other facilities primarily used for athletic contests or exhibitions or other events for which admission is charged to the general public; or
(3) modernization, renovation, or repair of facilities—
(A) used for sectarian instruction or religious worship; or
(B) in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission.
SEC. 14005. STATE APPLICATIONS.
(a) In General. The Governor of a State desiring to receive an allocation under section 14001(d) shall submit an application at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the Secretary may reasonably require.
(b) Application. In such application, the Governor shall—
(1) include the assurances described in subsection (d);
(2) provide baseline data that demonstrates the State's current status in each of the areas described in such assurances; and
(3) describe how the State intends to use its allocation, including whether the State will use such allocation to meet maintenance of effort requirements under the ESEA and IDEA and, in such cases, what amount will be used to meet such requirements.
(c) Incentive Grant Application. The Governor of a State seeking a grant under section 14006 shall—
(1) submit an application for consideration;
(2) describe the status of the State's progress in each of the areas described in subsection (d), and the strategies the State is employing to help ensure that students in the subgroups described in section 1111(b)(2)(C)(v)(II) of the ESEA (20 U.S.C. 6311(b)(2)(C)(v)(II)) who have not met the State's proficiency targets continue making progress toward meeting the State's student academic achievement standards;
(3) describe the achievement and graduation rates (as described in section 1111(b)(2)(C)(vi) of the ESEA (20 U.S.C. 6311(b)(2)(C)(vi)) and as clarified in section 200.19(b)(1) of title 34, Code of Federal Regulations) of public elementary and secondary school students in the State, and the strategies the State is employing to help ensure that all subgroups of students identified in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA (20 U.S.C. 6311(b)(2)) in the State continue making progress toward meeting the State's student academic achievement standards;
(4) describe how the State would use its grant funding to improve student academic achievement in the State, including how it will allocate the funds to give priority to high-need local educational agencies; and
(5) include a plan for evaluating the State's progress in closing achievement gaps.
(d) Assurances. An application under subsection (b) shall include the following assurances:
(1) Maintenance of effort.
(A) Elementary and secondary education. The State will, in each of fiscal years 2009, 2010, and 2011, maintain State support for elementary and secondary education at least at the level of such support in fiscal year 2006.
(B) Higher education. The State will, in each of fiscal years 2009, 2010, and 2011, maintain State support for public institutions of higher education (not including support for capital projects or for research and development or tuition and fees paid by students) at least at the level of such support in fiscal year 2006.
(2) Achieving equity in teacher distribution. The State will take actions to improve teacher effectiveness and comply with section 1111(b)(8)(C) of the ESEA (20 U.S.C. 6311(b)(8)(C)) in order to address inequities in the distribution of highly qualified teachers between high- and low-poverty schools, and to ensure that low-income and minority children are not taught at higher rates than other children by inexperienced, unqualified, or out-of-field teachers.
(3) Improving collection and use of data. The State will establish a longitudinal data system that includes the elements described in section 6401(e)(2)(D) of the America COMPETES Act (20 U.S.C. 9871).
(4) Standards and assessments. The State—
(A) will enhance the quality of the academic assessments it administers pursuant to section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA (20 U.S.C. 6311(b)(3)) through activities such as those described in section 6112(a) of such Act (20 U.S.C. 7301a(a));
(B) will comply with the requirements of paragraphs (3)(C)(ix) and (6) of section 1111(b) of the ESEA (20 U.S.C. 6311(b)) and section 612(a)(16) of the IDEA (20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(16)) related to the inclusion of children with disabilities and limited English proficient students in State assessments, the development of valid and reliable assessments for those students, and the provision of accommodations that enable their participation in State assessments; and
(C) will take steps to improve State academic content standards and student academic achievement standards consistent with section 6401(e)(1)(A)(ii) of the America COMPETES Act.
(5) Supporting struggling schools. The State will ensure compliance with the requirements of section 1116(b)(7)(C)(iv) and section 1116(b)(8)(B) of the ESEA with respect to schools identified under such sections.
SEC. 14006. STATE INCENTIVE GRANTS.
(a) In General.
(1) Reservation. From the total amount reserved under section 14001(c) that is not used for section 14007, the Secretary may reserve up to 1 percent for technical assistance to States to assist them in meeting the objectives of paragraphs (2), (3), (4), and (5) of section 14005(d).
(2) Remainder. Of the remaining funds, the Secretary shall, in fiscal year 2010, make grants to States that have made significant progress in meeting the objectives of paragraphs (2), (3), (4), and (5) of section 14005(d).
(b) Basis for Grants. The Secretary shall determine which States receive grants under this section, and the amount of those grants, on the basis of information provided in State applications under section 14005 and such other criteria as the Secretary determines appropriate, which may include a State's need for assistance to help meet the objective of paragraphs (2), (3), (4), and (5) of section 14005(d).
(c) Subgrants to Local Educational Agencies. Each State receiving a grant under this section shall use at least 50 percent of the grant to provide local educational agencies in the State with subgrants based on their relative shares of funding under part A of title I of the ESEA (20 U.S.C. 6311 et seq.) for the most recent year.
SEC. 14007. INNOVATION FUND.
(a) In General.
(1) Eligible entities. For the purposes of this section, the term "eligible entity'' means—
(A) a local educational agency; or
(B) a partnership between a nonprofit organization and—
(i) one or more local educational agencies; or
(ii) a consortium of schools.
(2) Program established. From the total amount reserved under section 14001(c), the Secretary may reserve up to $650,000,000 to establish an Innovation Fund, which shall consist of academic achievement awards that recognize eligible entities that meet the requirements described in subsection (b).
(3) Basis for awards. The Secretary shall make awards to eligible entities that have made significant gains in closing the achievement gap as described in subsection (b)(1)—
(A) to allow such eligible entities to expand their work and serve as models for best practices;
(B) to allow such eligible entities to work in partnership with the private sector and the philanthropic community; and
(C) to identify and document best practices that can be shared, and taken to scale based on demonstrated success.
(b) Eligibility. To be eligible for such an award, an eligible entity shall—
(1) have significantly closed the achievement gaps between groups of students described in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA (20 U.S.C. 6311(b)(2));
(2) have exceeded the State's annual measurable objectives consistent with such section 1111(b)(2) for 2 or more consecutive years or have demonstrated success in significantly increasing student academic achievement for all groups of students described in such section through another measure, such as measures described in section 1111(c)(2) of the ESEA;
(3) have made significant improvement in other areas, such as graduation rates or increased recruitment and placement of high-quality teachers and school leaders, as demonstrated with meaningful data; and
(4) demonstrate that they have established partnerships with the private sector, which may include philanthropic organizations, and that the private sector will provide matching funds in order to help bring results to scale.
(c) Special Rule. In the case of an eligible entity that includes a nonprofit organization, the eligible entity shall be considered to have met the eligibility requirements of paragraphs (1), (2), (3) of subsection (b) if such nonprofit organization has a record of meeting such requirements.
SEC. 14008. STATE REPORTS.
For each year of the program under this title, a State receiving funds under this title shall submit a report to the Secretary, at such time and in such manner as the Secretary may require, that describes—
(1) the uses of funds provided under this title within the State;
(2) how the State distributed the funds it received under this title;
(3) the number of jobs that the Governor estimates were saved or created with funds the State received under this title;
(4) tax increases that the Governor estimates were averted because of the availability of funds from this title;
(5) the State's progress in reducing inequities in the distribution of highly qualified teachers, in implementing a State longitudinal data system, and in developing and implementing valid and reliable assessments for limited English proficient students and children with disabilities;
(6) the tuition and fee increases for in-State students imposed by public institutions of higher education in the State during the period of availability of funds under this title, and a description of any actions taken by the State to limit those increases;
(7) the extent to which public institutions of higher education maintained, increased, or decreased enrollment of in-State students, including students eligible for Pell Grants or other need-based financial assistance; and
(8) a description of each modernization, renovation and repair project funded, which shall include the amounts awarded and project costs.
SEC. 14009. EVALUATION.
The Comptroller General of the United States shall conduct evaluations of the programs under sections 14006 and 14007 which shall include, but not be limited to, the criteria used for the awards made, the States selected for awards, award amounts, how each State used the award received, and the impact of this funding on the progress made toward closing achievement gaps.
SEC. 14010. SECRETARY'S REPORT TO CONGRESS.
The Secretary shall submit a report to the Committee on Education and Labor of the House of Representatives, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate, and the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and of the Senate, not less than 6 months following the submission of State reports, that evaluates the information provided in the State reports under section 14008 and the information required by section 14005(b)(3) including State-by-State information.
SEC. 14011. PROHIBITION ON PROVISION OF CERTAIN ASSISTANCE.
No recipient of funds under this title shall use such funds to provide financial assistance to students to attend private elementary or secondary schools, unless such funds are used to provide special education and related services to children with disabilities, as authorized by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.).
SEC. 14012. FISCAL RELIEF.
(a) In General. For the purpose of relieving fiscal burdens on States and local educational agencies that have experienced a precipitous decline in financial resources, the Secretary of Education may waive or modify any requirement of this title relating to maintaining fiscal effort.
(b) Duration. A waiver or modification under this section shall be for any of fiscal year 2009, fiscal year 2010, or fiscal year 2011, as determined by the Secretary.
(c) Criteria. The Secretary shall not grant a waiver or modification under this section unless the Secretary determines that the State receiving such waiver or modification will not provide for elementary, secondary, and public higher education, for the fiscal year under consideration, a smaller percentage of the total revenues available to the State than the percentage provided for such purpose in the preceding fiscal year.
(d) Maintenance of Effort. Upon prior approval from the Secretary, a State or local educational agency that receives funds under this title may treat any portion of such funds that is used for elementary, secondary, or postsecondary education as non-Federal funds for the purpose of any requirement to maintain fiscal effort under any other program, including part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.), administered by the Secretary.
(e) Subsequent Level of Effort. Notwithstanding (d), the level of effort required by a State or local educational agency for the following fiscal year shall not be reduced.
SEC. 14013. DEFINITIONS.
Except as otherwise provided in this title, as used in this title—
(1) the terms "elementary education'' and "secondary education'' have the meaning given such terms under State law;
(2) the term "high-need local educational agency'' means a local educational agency—
(A) that serves not fewer than 10,000 children from families with incomes below the poverty line; or
(B) for which not less than 20 percent of the children served by the agency are from families with incomes below the poverty line;
(3) the term "institution of higher education'' has the meaning given such term in section 101 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001);
(4) the term "Secretary'' means the Secretary of Education;
(5) the term "State'' means each of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; and
(6) any other term used that is defined in section 9101 of the ESEA (20 U.S.C. 7801) shall have the meaning given the term in such section.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Sat May 23 2009 10:32:18 ET
In a sobering holiday interview with C-SPAN, President Obama boldly told Americans: "We are out of money."
C-SPAN host Steve Scully broke from a meek Washington press corps with probing questions for the new president.
SCULLY: You know the numbers, $1.7 trillion debt, a national deficit of $11 trillion. At what point do we run out of money?
OBAMA: Well, we are out of money now. We are operating in deep deficits, not caused by any decisions we've made on health care so far. This is a consequence of the crisis that we've seen and in fact our failure to make some good decisions on health care over the last several decades.
So we've got a short-term problem, which is we had to spend a lot of money to salvage our financial system, we had to deal with the auto companies, a huge recession which drains tax revenue at the same time it's putting more pressure on governments to provide unemployment insurance or make sure that food stamps are available for people who have been laid off.
So we have a short-term problem and we also have a long-term problem. The short-term problem is dwarfed by the long-term problem. And the long-term problem is Medicaid and Medicare. If we don't reduce long-term health care inflation substantially, we can't get control of the deficit.
So, one option is just to do nothing. We say, well, it's too expensive for us to make some short-term investments in health care. We can't afford it. We've got this big deficit. Let's just keep the health care system that we've got now.
Along that trajectory, we will see health care cost as an overall share of our federal spending grow and grow and grow and grow until essentially it consumes everything...
SCULLY: When you see GM though as “Government Motors,” you're reaction?
OBAMA: Well, you know – look we are trying to help an auto industry that is going through a combination of bad decision making over many years and an unprecedented crisis or at least a crisis we haven't seen since the 1930's. And you know the economy is going to bounce back and we want to get out of the business of helping auto companies as quickly as we can. I have got more enough to do without that. In the same way that I want to get out of the business of helping banks, but we have to make some strategic decisions about strategic industries...
SCULLY: States like California in desperate financial situation, will you be forced to bail out the states?
OBAMA: No. I think that what you're seeing in states is that anytime you got a severe recession like this, as I said before, their demands on services are higher. So, they are sending more money out. At the same time, they're bringing less tax revenue in. And that's a painful adjustment, what we're going end up seeing is lot of states making very difficult choices there...
SCULLY: William Howard Taft served on the court after his presidency, would you have any interest in being on the Supreme Court?
OBAMA: You know, I am not sure that I could get through Senate confirmation...
Friday, May 22, 2009
FAITH UNDER FIRE
Home: No place for Bible study
County demands pastor obtain $10,000 permit to host friends
Posted: May 22, 2009
5:13 pm Eastern
By Drew Zahn
© 2009 WorldNetDaily
A San Diego pastor and his wife claim they were interrogated by a county official and warned they will face escalating fines if they continue to hold Bible studies in their home.
The couple, whose names are being withheld until a demand letter can be filed on their behalf, told their attorney a county government employee knocked on their door on Good Friday, asking a litany of questions about their Tuesday night Bible studies, which are attended by approximately 15 people.
"Do you have a regular weekly meeting in your home? Do you sing? Do you say 'amen'?" the official reportedly asked. "Do you say, 'Praise the Lord'?"
The pastor's wife answered yes.
She says she was then told, however, that she must stop holding "religious assemblies" until she and her husband obtain a Major Use Permit from the county, a permit that often involves traffic and environmental studies, compliance with parking and sidewalk regulations and costs that top tens of thousands of dollars.
And if they fail to pay for the MUP, the county official reportedly warned, the couple will be charged escalating fines beginning at $100, then $200, $500, $1000, "and then it will get ugly."
Dean Broyles of the Western Center for Law & Policy, which has been retained to represent the couple, told WND the county's action not only violates religious land-use laws but also assaults both the First Amendment's freedom of assembly and freedom of religion.
"The First Amendment, in part, reads, 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,'" Broyles said. "And that's the key part: 'prohibiting the free exercise.' We believe this is a substantial government burden on the free exercise of religion."
He continued, "If one's home is one's castle, certainly you would the think the free exercise of religion, of all places, could occur in the home."
Broyles confirmed the county official followed through on his threat. The pastor and his wife received a written warning ordering the couple to "cease/stop religious assembly on parcel or obtain a major use permit."
"The Western Center for Law and Policy is troubled by this draconian move to suppress home Bible studies," said the law center in a statement. "If the current trends in our nation continue, churches may be forced underground. If that happens, believers will once again be forced to meet in homes. If homes are already closed by the government to assembly and worship, where then will Christians meet?"
On a personal note, Broyles added, "I've been leading Bible studies in my home for 13 years in San Diego County, and I personally believe that home fellowship Bible studies are the past and future of the church. … If you look at China, the church grew from home Bible studies. I'm deeply concerned that if in the U.S. we are not able to meet in our homes and freely practice our religion, then we may be worse off than China."
Broyles also explained to WND that oppressive governments, such as communist China or Nazi Germany, worked to repress home fellowships, labeling them the "underground church" or "subversive groups," legally compelling Christians to meet only in sanctioned, government-controlled "official" churches.
"Therein lies my concern," Broyles said. "If people can't practice their religious beliefs in the privacy of their own homes with a few of their friends, that's an egregious First Amendment violation."
WND contacted a spokeswoman for San Diego County, who acknowledged the description of the incident seemed "bizarre," but who was unable to locate the details of the account. She simply could not provide comment yet, she said, until she could become familiar with the case.
Broyles said the WCLP is nearly ready to file a demand letter with the county to release the pastor and his wife from the requirement to obtain the expensive permit. If the county refuses, Broyles said, the WCLP will consider a lawsuit in federal court.
Broyles also told WND the pastor and his wife are continuing to hold the Bible study in their home.