Fairfax County, Virginia has proposed a new zoning law that one man believes will outlaw the Bible studies held in his home. Matthew Clark argues that the new law violates the First Amendment right of freedom to assemble.
The zoning law states that regular gatherings 50 people or more cannot meet more than three times in 40 days.
“These gatherings can create parking, noise and other concerns for the neighborhood,” reads the Fairfax County website. It goes on to explain that occasional parties and gatherings will continue to be permitted, but regular meetings “detract from the residential nature of a neighborhood.”
According to Christian News Network, six Fairfax County residents have filed complaints about large gatherings, but Clark believes those issues could be addressed without issuing a new zoning law.
“If they park illegally tow the cars. If they cause a noise violation, issue them a warning or citation. If they litter, ticket them. If they trespass or damage property, arrest them. But don’t violate my precious First Amendment rights to prevent something I’m not doing and can easily be remedied in any of the above ways,” Clark wrote.
County supervisor Pat Herrity also addressed concerns over the proposed law.
“This is yet another instance where we appear to be punishing the many for the actions of the few. I believe the county is risking a lawsuit and/or a Constitution challenge by interfering with peoples’ right to assemble,” she said.
The county will be holding a public forum to address concerns of residents Wednesday evening.
Publication date: May 7, 2014