by Dr. D ~ July 11th, 2012
(Pastor Michael Salman and his family)
From The Christian Post:
Michael Salman, the pastor from Phoenix who was fined and sentenced to jail for holding Bible studies in his home, started his 60-day jail sentence at 10 a.m. today (Tuesday). …
Salman was found guilty of code violations for hosting Bible studies on his 4.6 acre property, which he has been doing for the past 7 years. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail along with three years probation and ordered to pay a $12,180 fine. …
A lot of the dispute has centered around whether the building used for gatherings in Salman’s backyard is a church. Salman contended it was not; the city said it was.
Salman has taken his fight to court but the Arizona courts have consistently ruled against him. In a January 2010 ruling, a court stated that the state is not prohibiting Salman to run a church or worship services at the location, but it requires that Salman abide by "fire and zoning codes."
Salman’s attorney has filed an emergency appeal with the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to get the preacher released but the court hasn’t yet issued a ruling.
Response: When does a home Bible study become a church? Under what authority is the government even qualified to make that distinction? Do municipal “fire and zoning codes” now give cities the excuse and power to shut down home Bible studies? Do they override religious freedom which is guaranteed in the Constitution? These are just a few of the questions raised by this case.
Is it just a matter of numbers? A couple of months ago we had over 50 children and parents over to our house hosting a birthday party for our granddaughter. A noisy Super Bowl party down the street may have exceeded that number earlier this year. So it is OK to have large parties but the minute a couple of dozen folks say a prayer and turn to the Bible than it’s a code violation?
All of a sudden home Bible study groups are being challenged by municipal and county authorities in a lot of different places in the USA. Up to this point they have usually been resolved in the favor of the Christians. However, is there now some kind of concerted effort among some city administrators to create a judicial precedence against meeting in homes for Bible study and worship?
In this case a pastor’s home has been raided by the police and he was arrested, jailed and fined. Pretty radical for committing the serious crime of holding an ‘illegal’ Bible study. This cannot be allowed to stand or home Bible study groups all across America will be subjected to attacks and our religious freedoms will have significantly declined. *Top