Father of six faces 60 days behind bars for hosting Bible study in his OWN home against city rules
This is only the begining of what is to become widespread persecution against Christians. For more info on Christian Persecution around the world, visit: www.time2stand.com/persecution.html
(article via: DailyMail)
A Phoenix man has been sentenced to two months in jail, three years’ probation and more than $12,000 in fines for using his private home to host weekly Bible studies in violation of the city’s building codes.
‘They’re cracking down on religious activities and religious use,’ Michael Salman told Fox News Radio. ‘They’re attacking what I as a Christian do in the privacy of my home.’
However, the Phoenix city prosecutors’ office has insisted that the issue has to do with public safety, not religion.
‘It came down to zoning and proper permitting,’ Vicki Hill, the chief assistant city prosecutor, told Fox News Radio. ‘Any time you are holding a gathering of people continuously as he does — we have concerns about people being able to exit the facility properly in case there is a fire.’
According to court documents, Mr Salman was found guilty of 67 code violations. Besides the 60-day jail term and probation, Salman must also pay a $12,180 fine.
‘But when someone says to us we are not allowed to gather because of religious purposes – that is when you have discrimination,’ Salman told 3TV.
However, the Arizona courts consistently ruled against Salman – ultimately declaring that he was running a church out of a private dwelling, and that the city did not violate his constitutional rights to religious freedom.
The long-running feud between Salman and the City of Phoenix came to a head in June of 2009 when nearly a dozen police officers armed with a search warrant and accompanied by city inspectors raided him home near 31st and Northern avenues and combed the 4.6 acre property in search of violations.
Salman is the owner of Mighty Mike’s Burgers, and he is also an ordained priest with a master’s degree in biblical studies from the Western Theological Seminary, according to his Facebook page.
He and his wife, Suzanne, also run a local credit-card processing company and do volunteer work with a Christian organization.
The Salmans have been hosting Bible studies since 2005 for about 15 of their relatives and friends.
Officials said the city has become aware of the meetings after some of Salman’s neighbors complained about traffic congestion near his home, although the pastor insists that his guests would always park on his property.
In 2007, the Salmans received a letter from the city prohibiting them from carrying on with the Bible studies in their living room because it was in violation of the construction code.
After two years of relative calm, the feud between the City of Phoenix and the Salmans escalated when they erected a 2,000 square foot building in their backyard. Mr Salman said he applied for and was granted all the appropriate permits and the building has passed a city inspection.
‘At that point we took our Bible study from our living room – and we moved it into that building,’ he said. ‘We started worshiping in that building every weekend.’
However, Miss Hill, the chief assistant city prosecutor, said Salman has ‘mischaracterized the facts’ of the permit. She said that he was given a permit to convert a garage into a game room, not a church or anything else for that matter.
On June 11, 2009, Salman was charged with having no emergency exit signs over the doors, no handicaps parking spaces or handicap ramps.
‘That type of enforcement is against the law; it’s unconstitutional,’ Salman stated in an online video.
The biggest sticking point between the Salmans and the city has been whether the family of eight is running a church.
Mr Salman has insisted that the building is not a house of worship, although it certainly looks like one, complete with chairs set up for as many as 40 people, a pulpit and a large cross on the lawn outside.
‘Just because visitors come to my home three times a week and we discuss the Bible…if that’s their definition of a church then so be it,’ he said.
‘At what point does the government have the right to state that you cannot have family and friends over at your home three times a week?’ Salman asked.
A January 4, 2010, ruling made it clear that the Salmans are not prohibited from running a church or hosting worship services on their property, but if they do so, they must be in compliance with fire and zoning codes.
Salman’s attorney has appealed the verdict, but unless the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals grants an emergency injunction, the father of six will start serving his sentence on July 9.
But that may not be the end of troubles for Salman.
Assistant City Prosecutor John Tutelman, who characterized Salman as a ‘rebel’ for refusing to put an end to the Bible studies, asked the court to revoke his probation and convert it into a two-and-a-half-year jail term, according to Christian News.
Salman’s probation revocation hearing has been set for late July.
Persecution in Phoenix, AZ – Home Pastor Jailed
The story below is from Pastor Duke Tabor’s blog page. You can see his posting here: http://taberstruths.com/city-of-phoenix-threatens-to-jail-pastor-for-holding-worship-services-at-home-70211/
In another case of government bureaucratic red tape and overstepping their constitutional limitations, the city of Phoenix Arizona is threatening to jail a pastor for holding worship services on his own property. Hiding behind city zoning ordinances just as the city of Santa Ana California is doing, the city of of Phoenix Arizona is violating the first amendment of the constitution and is violating Pastor Michael Salman and his wife Suzanne’s constitutional right to worship. I decided to run this story because I am trying to show you how our government is trying every way possible to encroach upon religious liberty. My friends, every time that government makes a law, a freedom is restricted in some way. Now I believe that we should have laws, but when laws violate the very principles that our country was founded upon, these laws have to be exposed, fought and repealed and the people that did not respect our religious freedoms and liberty in the first place, need to be recalled and voted out of office. Enough is enough!
As a result of the city of Phoenix persecuting this family under the guise of zoning laws, Pastor Michael made a video as he prepared to turn himself in to the Maricopa County Jail to serve a 60 day sentence. Take a look at this video from Youtube
So what happened when Pastor Salman arrived at jail?
These excerpts are from the Phoenix NewTimes who has been chronicling this travesty of justice since 2007. You see this is just not an isolated instance of persecution but has been going on for years where the city is trying to manhandle a family because of their faith. Check this out!
By Ray Stern Wed., Jun. 20 2012 at 2:12 PM
Michael Salman, who’s been squabbling with Phoenix for years over his home-worship services, says he was sent home Saturday night after he showed up at jail to begin his 60-day sentence. Salman’s been fighting the sentence since his September 2010 conviction for violating building codes at his 1.5-acre property near 31st and Northern Avenues. His struggle to be allowed to have 40 or so people at his home each week for worship services has been going on since 2007, as New Times has chronicled. The home has even been raided by police — twice. City inspectors say a structure on the property where the gatherings take place isn’t safe.
After a lengthy battle in federal court, last week a judge denied his motion to block the sentence and tossed his civil lawsuit. Theoretically, that meant he should have to serve the sentence. But it seems as though city officials lost their nerve after Salman self-surrendered and was booked in at the Maricopa County jail. Inexplicably, jail officials sent him home, Salman says. ”God granted me an injunction,” Salman says today, without a trace of irony. At this point, he says he’s waiting for a phone call from the Phoenix City Court, which is expected to give him another self-surrender date. He’s scheduled to be back in city court on June 28, at which point he could be ordered to jail.
Salman says his kids were “crying their faces off” before he drove to the jail, and he even prepared a YouTube video in which he rails against the city and defends what he believes is his right to have weekly worship services at his home.
Now he’s back in the holding pattern.
Salman is also the owner of Mighty Mike’s Burgers in Phoenix, and he and his wife, Suzanne, run a credit-card processing company, as well. All that’s in addition to his volunteer work as a minister for the weekly home services and the Harvest Christian Fellowship.
Why is it important that we stand up for the right to hold worship services in our homes?
Every one of you could be at risk if we do not stop cities from using zoning laws to violate religious liberties and freedoms. Think about it. You decide to have a group of friends over to watch a Christian movie and have some snacks. The city you live in could say you are holding a religious service and fine or jail you because you do not have proper parking, handicap access, and the proper number of toilets in your bathroom. You could be jailed for having a group of friends over for a Bible study. Your teenagers practicing to be the next Christian rock star with his or her buddies could be sent to jail. Do you see why this is important? Are you willing to allow your city or the city of Phoenix to violate your God given and constitutional rights? What are you going to do about it? Will you spread the word about how Pastor Michael is standing up and stand up with him? Will you confront your city councilmen and demand that there be an exemption passed with city zoning laws for religious activities and meetings? Will you make your voice heard?
Make sure you tweet this article and share it on facebook! Pastor Michael needs our support!
Well, we have just finished up at the Gospel for Asia display at the Four Square Church Conference in Phoenix, AZ. For the last three days several volunteers, including myself, were passing out K.P. Yohannan’s books, Revolution in World Missions and No Longer a Slum Dog, at the Phoenix Civic Center. It was a wonderful time of talking with believers from all around the world. The pastors in Nigeria were especially wonderful to talk with.
Just before finishing up the last shift on Wed. night, I was praying that we would be able to hand out more books and that someone would be interested in the discipleship program. With only an hour and a half left to go, Ryan Roe and myself handed out nearly 70 books and a young couple were extremely interested in the discipleship program. Praise the Lord.
(Ryan pictured above)
Monday evening started out with Ryan and myself fortunate enough to talk with a man who has been drinking since the age of 11 and homeless for an unknown period of time. As we sat outside waiting for the next shift, we heard a man yelling, so we went up and talked to the man. After talking with him for a period of time, Ryan prayed for the man. Please pray that this man would be set free from his addictions, comes to full knowledge and power of Christ and is healed of all his mental wounds.
On Tuesday night, while walking to our cars, we talked with an employee of the civic center. He has been struggling for some time and was a veteran of 9 yrs special forces. Pray that his walk with Christ is continuously sanctified and passionately increased and that he will soon have a home.
Throughout the course of the 3 days we talked with many people. A good portion of these people have never heard of Gospel for Asia and many seemed to be surprised that the books were actually free. If you have never read either of the aforementioned books above, you can get them, and much more, for free here – http://www.gfa.org/resource/
Please feel free to check out my personal GFA (Gospel for Asia) fund raising goal – https://www.mygfa.org/StreetRescue/ Do not feel obligated to give – and pass the link around to everyone you know. Every little bit helps.
Soon my new book, Realities of a True Christian, will be released for E-Readers. The print versions, either hard back or soft back, will soon follow. All proceeds will go to benefit Gospel for Asia.