Illegal Home Bible Studies?

June 5, 1998

"It would appear that Jesus Christ and His disciples couldn't have the Last Supper if they were in Greenville County." That was the comment of one Christian when he heard that South Carolina's Greenville County zoning administrator threatened to fine a pastor more than $1000 a day for holding prayer meetings in his home.

As hard as that might be to believe, that is exactly what happened when the associate pastor of Mt. Zion Christian Fellowship was ordered to stop holding prayer meetings in his home or apply to the zoning board to have his home re-zoned as a church.

The Greenville County case is part of a larger conflict between church and state at the local level. For years we have heard about national conflicts about prayer in the schools, Bible reading, etc. But some of the most significant conflicts have taken place at the local level in relation to zoning. Churches that want to plant a spin-off church or start a Christian school often are denied because of zoning. This time it was a case about prayer meetings in the home.

In this case the conclusion was favorable. The South Carolina legislature passed a bill protecting home prayer meetings, and Governor David Beasley willingly signed the bill into law in April. So for now the conflict in South Carolina is over. But you've got to wonder when it will surface again. It's only a matter of time before another zoning official will try to shut down a home prayer meeting or Bible study. I guess it is a good thing that Jesus didn't try to hold the Last Supper in South Carolina. It would have been against the law.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.

© 1998 Probe Ministries International