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?
How many provisions or heads-turned-the-other-way have been made for less than noble causes? The people are white, no? There my be more to this but it sure sounds bad.
Half of Arizona is no longer a part of the US. It has been given to the Sinaloa Cartel for control of all smuggling traffic.
Heck yea! Now if were a criminal alien, he'd be all set.
It's just not a gov't of the People any more. You are a tax slave and if you won't get off your butt and send in some tax revenue, we'll just tax your butt.
It is reasonable to assume we don't have all the minute details. Still, most of us are are wondering if this story was identical *except* that the couple and their activity was a protected constituent of the left, would we even be reading it?
Not a chance.
Why didn’t they just move it to other houses. Then after everyone forgot about it, they could move back to his house.
****The authorities were afraid to go up against them because of freedom of religion.****
The “authorities” were using selective enforcement to continue to shape the makeup of this nation.
Let the free market decide the direction of this country in all aspects and you will see the world transformed. Let the laws on the books that deal with fraud be enforced as well.
A mosque in my neighborhood? If they can sustain a livelyhood here when no-one will hire them then good luck in their endeavors.
A totally free marketplace is not politically correct, that tells you something.
Does that mean I can not have 20 people over to my house and watch the Super Bowl and drink adult beverages? I am confused.
How about: If a Muslim family built a similar structure in their back yard and had 15-20 people there for prayers, would we be reading the same story here? Forget the structure, go back to what took place *before* that. If the Muslim family has 15 people in their living room would they have been subjected to the same treatment?
How about the Friday night party of the local gay rights group being hosted there? 15-20 people every Friday night for drinks and a strategy meeting? Not not noisy or disruptive. Would they have been subjected to the same treatment?
You may consider my question rhetorical. We all know the answer. We are not seeing equal treatment under the law. If we were this would be a different discussion.
You can have friends over to watch football, or God forbid the NBA, but don’t dare pray or quote Scripture...
What country is this, again?
4.5 Acres in Phoenix. I have a feeling someone in the city wants to subdivide that property.
“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”
I have seen the future and it sucks. This is Obamaworld on a microscopic scale. When laws get too numerous and complicated, government busybodies can throw anyone they don’t like in the slammer whenever they feel like it.
I betcha that’s why they’ve been hassling him all these years.
If the guys all get prayer mats and the gals wear Burqas, they will let them alone.
What kind of business, what hours, how often, how many people?
Did those city officials have a 4th of July bbq and invite over friends and relatives? Oops, sounds like they're running an operation that is reminiscent of a home restaurant and entertainment venue.
I have 6 children, 14 grand children,4 great grand children and all their spouses in my house every Christmas and there are times when most or all are in my living room.
I'm happy to see them all and equally happy to see them leave......except for my 12 and 13 year olds, who live with me.
Just an indication of last days/end times. Refer to 1Peter Chapter 4 - Serving God in the Last Days
Those who try to save their life will lose it.......you’ll never get me alive copper.
“What kind of business, what hours, how often, how many people?”
No business should be allowed to operate in a neighborhood of single-family homes. So, no hours. None. No customers in residential neighborhoods.
Not enforcing zoning is how you end up with ten beaters waiting at the curb for the mechanic who works out of his home garage. And all the attendant noise. Why should that guy be forced out when it’s okay for the people next door to run a church? If he “worships” cars... does that make it okay for the neighbors?
And made no mistake, church congregants are customers. They park. They pay. Churches are businesses, albeit tax exempt businesses.
If anyone can come up with a cogent argument why the homeowners in my neighborhood, the ones who found themselves quite suddenly living next door to a church, why they should just shut up and respect the “freedom of religion” of those who don’t respect private property rights (and that’s what we’re talking about, really) or law and order (because that’s what zoning laws are: the law), I’d love to hear it.
They are trying to have it both ways - if thee preacher cannot run a church on their property as per zoning regulations then how can they be booked for building code regulations that would only apply to a business or a church. Someone doesn’t like this preacher and is out to get him.
Down on the Animal Farm, some religions are more equal than others. The “Religion of Peace” gets to sleep in the farmer’s house. Christians get the barn. OINK!
From what I read the man want to have public meetings three times a week in a 2,000 square foot building, which has a pulpit and chairs for as many as 40 people, which he built after obtaining a a permit to convert a garage into a game room.
The city of Phoenix forbids any other occupancy or use, which can be sticky (what if they played Bible games), but the man apparently could have a church there if he complied with the normal requirements for such.
The question is whether the state has a legit interest is not only insuring homes are safely built, but that meeting houses of a certain size can require more safety features.
And at what size or frequency does having regular meetings for any purpose at your house require these extra requirements.
These are legit questions as i see them, and both sides need to be reasonable, with tolerance but not compromise, which can be a grey area.
Too many cars left out on the street, which is understandable when you have anywhere from 20-40 people showing up at a time, there’s no way that won’t draw attention when done on a weekly basis.
I was not responding to the original article; I was responding to a poster (not you) who claimed that, under the First Amendment, building and zoning codes can never apply to churches. That proposition simply isn't true, and I selected an extreme example to illustrate that.
Well, and this will get me in trouble, but I don't see why churches should be exempt from the same property taxes that everyone else pays. It's not infringing on anyone's right to worship by expecting their facility to contribute to the costs of the local infrastructure as do the rest of us. There is nothing anti religious in expecting them to carry their share of the costs. As long as all are treated the same as any commercial property.
“Phoenix officials left no stone unturned
Phoenix officials should get a life.
They should have stayed under the rocks they crawled out from!