Pastor's Lawyer: County To Withdraw Bible Study Citation

A top San Diego County official sent 10News a statement in which he said he deeply regrets the issue that has turned into a debate over religious freedom, and he is promising action if needed.

For the past five years, about 15 people have gathered at pastor David Jones' home every Tuesday night for a Bible study meeting.

Last month, someone complained about parking in Jones' neighborhood, and when the county investigated they issued Jones a warning and asked him to stop hosting his weekly Bible meetings, claiming he needed a permit.

Jones told 10News he was asked if his group said "amen" and "praise the Lord" in the meetings and believed his right to freely exercise his religion was being violated.

On Friday, in a written statement, the county's chief administrative officer Walt Eckard said, "The county has never tried to stifle religious express and never will. This is a land use issue; it is not an issue of religious expression."

Since 10News broke the story, county officials said they have received a high volume of e-mails and calls.

The county has promised a full review that could be completed next week.

Eckard said, "Should I find that county staff at any level acted in a heavy handed way … I will take appropriate action immediately."

Jones said he does not believe the county is being truthful. He said they have been most interested in the religious practice and not parking issues since the beginning.

10News learned that the American Civil Liberties Union has come out in favor of Jones.

In a late-breaking development, Jones' attorney Dean Broyles said he received a call from an assistant counsel for the county, who told him the county is withdrawing its citation.

There is no confirmation regarding the withdrawal from county officials.