Musings, rants, rambling, general nonsense

Jailed For In Home Bible Study – in USA

Posted on | July 9, 2012 | 1 Comment

UPDATE 7/11/12: OK, folks, I can admit when I am wrong and in this case, it appears I was wrong. All that I have written below still applies EXCEPT that Michael Salman registered his property AS A CHURCH and has not been assessed property taxes since 2007 BECAUSE HE CLAIMS TO BE A CHURCH.

If you go out of your way to call yourself a CHURCH so you can claim the legal and financial benefits of being a CHURCH, you have given the State the power to enforce rules, regulations & building codes for CHURCHES.

If he wants to revert his property to being a private residence, and pay all the taxes that go along with that, I will continue to fight for his right to worship at HOME. But, since he himself decided it was not a HOME but a CHURCH, he has made his proverbial bed – and he will have to lie in it

ADDENDA: Minutes from his appeal in this case which clearly show the property was willfully registered as a church for tax exemption purposes.

Still, a SWAT team to raid his property? Ridiculous

Phoenix Pastor Jailed for Home Bible Study

I have been trying to shed some light on a problem here in Phoenix.

A local family man has been sentenced to 60 days in jail, 3 years probation, and a fine of over $12,000.00 – for hosting friends in his home for Bible study. In his OWN home, on his OWN property. (The property is over 4.5 acres, BTW)

As you can see in the video below 1, the letters from the City of Phoenix specifically state; “Bible study use requires a change of occupancy”, “Bible studies are not allowed to be conducted in your residence or the barn on your property as these structures do not comply with the construction code for this use”, “Until the appropriate permits are obtained, church related activities, including Bible study, are not allowed”. Now, after the glare of publicity, they began claiming this “is not a religious persecution issue, it’s a safety issue” And yet, were they not discussing the Bible, the City would have no problem with a large gathering. Is there some safety issue created by those who worship as a group at home, but not those who play charades as a group at home?

If he and his friends got together every week to discuss “The Hunger Games”, the city would have no complaint. However, since his book club chooses to discuss the Bible, they are prohibited.

Perhaps the zoning commission needs a refresher course in elementary civics. Let’s take a quick glance at The First Amendment to the Constitution, the crowning jewel of The Bill of Rights.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

By my reading, the Salman family should be able to erect a pulpit and line their guest house with pews – with no infringement from the State whatsoever. Gathering several people in their living room should garner even less attention. 2

The City of Phoenix also tried to make the claim that “activities that involve participation by non-family members could lead to non-compliance with city statutes and ordinances“. I’d like you to take a moment and allow that to sink in. Have you ever considered the possibility of violating “city statutes and ordinances” when you invited friends over to watch a game? Have a barbecue? Baby shower? It appears the City of Phoenix has.

But can they? Let’s keep reading that pesky old First Amendment:

or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Hmmm, seems like the Founding Fathers considered it – and believe you have every right to peaceably assemble with whoever you choose.

The only possible Constitutionally legal recourse the city could have would be if the Salman’s activities were creating a hazard or nuisance for their neighbors. They aren’t. In fact, of all the irritants in the neighborhood, the Salman family Bible study doesn’t even register a blip. I know. It is my neighborhood. I pass that house in my car or on foot at least once a day, almost every day.

After I saw the news coverage, I decided to shoot my own video to give a more accurate picture of the area. If there was a complaint, it was likely the doing of one cranky neighbor. Or perhaps someone in one of the myriad cars that pass by the house each day who was “offended” by the sight of a cross in someone’s front yard.

At this point, Michael Salman has begun his 60 day sentence. The City of Phoenix has wasted ridiculous amounts of money, time & resources in trying to stop this family from practicing their faith. They are now wasting more to keep him incarcerated. The family is asking for prayers. I am asking for something a bit more corporeal. Please tell your friends about this. Please contact your elected officials. Write letters to the editor. Whatever you can think of to shine the light of reason on this situation.


2 Yes, I realize they now meet in an out building. However, when the harassment started, they were meeting in their own living room.


One Response to “Jailed For In Home Bible Study – in USA”

  1. Bible Study & Zoning Boards
    July 11th, 2012 @ 11:55 pm

    […] & Contact I’ve been trying to think of an appropriate parallel for the Phoenix Pastor Jailed for Home Bible Study story. Book club? Fantasy football league? Tupperware sales? None seemed quite right, […]

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