Skip to comments.Christian Fined and Sentenced to 60 Days in Jail Over AZ Home Bible Studies
Posted on 07/06/2012 7:42:42 PM PDT by Altariel
Weve told you before about government regulations hampering home Bible studies, but this story is even more pervasive, perplexing and complicated than the others. Michael Salman, who lives in Phoenix, Ariz., has been sentenced to a startling 60 days in jail, given a $12,180 fine and granted three years probation for refusing to stop hosting Bible studies at his home. Why, you ask? Hes apparently in violation of the citys building code laws.
(Related: Calif. City Changes Zoning Code to Allow Home Bible Study After Couple Was Fined)
City officials claim that hes running an operation that is reminiscent of a home church but without the required permits. And according to Foxs Todd Starnes, Phoenix court documents show that he violated 67 codes. Unless the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals grants an emergency injunction, he will be jailed as early as next week.
Naturally, Salman believes the courts findings amount to a crackdown on faith and religion. The city maintains that the penalties are legitimate based on the zoning laws he and his family have violated. However, Starnes was apparently unable to reach the Phoenix prosecutors office, the mayors office or code enforcement to obtain further comment.
Theyre cracking down on religious activities and religious use. Theyre attacking what I, as a Christian, do in the privacy of my home, he said in an interview with Starnes. If I had people coming to my home on a regular basis for poker night or Monday Night Football, it would be permitted. But when someone says to us we are not allowed to gather because of religious purposes, that is when you have discrimination.
Starnes goes on to provide an overview that recaps how the dispute first started between Salman and the city:
The long-running feud between Salman and the City of Phoenix culminated in the summer of 2009 when nearly a dozen police along with city inspectors raided their home. Armed with a search warrant, police confined the Salman family to the living room as they combed the property looking for violations.
Salman is the owner of Mighty Mikes Burgers and he is also an ordained pastor. He and his wife have been hosting Bible studies on their 4.6-acre property since 2005. The gatherings were originally attended by as many as 15 people.
In 2007, they received a letter from the city informing them that the Bible studies were not permitted in their living room because it was in violation of the construction code.
A few months later, members of the Phoenix Fire Dept. broke up the familys Good Friday fellowship. As many as 20 people were in their backyard eating a meal when firefighters threatened to call the police unless their guests left the premises.
Watch Salman and his wife discuss their legal battle, below:
And this was only the beginning. In 2008, the fire department came back again, and Salman ordered officials off of his property. The town then decided to ignore him that is until he and his family built a structure in their back hard. The family, having secured the proper building permits, then moved the Bible studies to this new building.
It was then that the real drama unfolded. Officials came in and found 67 code violations. From a failure to post exit signs to a lack of handicap signs, Phoenix officials left no stone unturned. Now, the Christian Bible-study leader could spend some time behind bars unless federal judges intervene.
Read more about his struggle on Fox News Radio.
all AA home meetings....better get back in the church basements.
Either we’re not getting the whole story or something is horribly wrong in Arizona.
This in what was once a very conservative state - how times have changed!
SHould have occupied overnight tents in the city square and banged on bongos for Jesus for the cause of illegal immigration. Then everything would have been just dandy.
If it had been a communist study group, there would be no problem.
I was following until: “his family built a structure in their back hard.” This was not a smart thing to do. Sounds like they built a what a reasonable person would call a “church” in a residential neighborhood.
Since when do building codes override the First Amendment.
It is 1776 again people.
So you’re saying if someone builds a barn and decides to hold weekly get-togethers for friends in that structure instead of letting people trample all over his main home, he should be jailed for code violations.
Since people have the right to live in a house that isn’t next door to a Starbucks operating out of a garage. Or a church.
It is a catch 22. They were told they could not have 20 people in their living room. What else but move to a back yard structure. I agree a lot of nuances here but sounds like some of these zoning/construction. building codes are just an excuse to stop freedom of association.
Dude pays taxes at his business and also on his home property tax. So one pays extortion fees to government and they get to dictate your lifestyle choices too? Tyrants!
Building codes are hardly an “excuse to stop freedom of association.” They’re in place to protect people from waking up one morning to find that the house next door has been turned into a church/temple/mosque.
It happened in my neighborhood. They got away with violating every zoning law on the books — rolled right over the dozens and dozens of neighbors who didn’t want A BUSINESS ON A RESIDENTIAL STREET IN A RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD. AS IS THEIR RIGHT.
The authorities were afraid to go up against them because of “freedom of religion.” Well, everybody on the street had their property effectively STOLEN from them. They can’t enjoy it. They can’t get rid of it. What about their rights?
If they were holding a GLBT function in their home, everything would have been fine.
I guess it all depends on how often the guy is running the meeting and how big it gets.
What if it was a once a week Boy Scout meeting?
Go to the Blaze and watch the video. Doing a home Bible study is not the guys problem.
Stretching zoning laws and failing building codes is his problem.
If your block is zoned for single-family residential, would you object to a Moslem building a 30-story Mosque on the lot next door to you?
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