Man sentenced to 60 days in JAIL and fined $12,000 of the heinous crime of . . . Holding a *BIBLE STUDY* in his home!

Marvelous Wildfire 2012/07/30 21:53:38
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July 30, 2012

PHOENIX, Ariz. —As part of their ongoing efforts to secure the release
of a Phoenix man who is serving a 60-day jail sentence for using his
private residential property to host a weekly Bible study, attorneys for
The Rutherford Institute have asked a municipal court to grant Michael
Salman a conditional work release, allowing him to leave Tents City Jail
as necessary to manage and serve at his family-owned restaurant, a duty
which his wife cannot perform as she is fully occupied with caring for
their young children. Salman is serving a 60-day sentence in Tents Jail
in Maricopa County for allegedly violating the zoning ordinances of the
City of Phoenix by using his private residential property to host a
weekly Bible study. Rutherford Institute attorneys argue that city
officials arbitrarily and erroneously forced Salman to comply with
commercial building codes based on the belief that because the Salmans’
activities involve “religious worship,” the meetings in their home
constituted a church and had to be governed by building codes for
churches, rather than residential homes. Others in their neighborhood,
however, are permitted to assemble in their homes for a variety of
secular purposes ranging from football viewing parties and poker games
to book club meetings, without any threat of building code violation.
Salman still faces the prospect of additional jail time as a penalty for
allegedly violating his probation by continuing to hold Bible studies
on his private property after being ordered not to have more than 12
people gathered on his property at any one time.

A fact sheet on the case and the motion to modify Salman’s sentence are available at www.rutherford.org.

“What happened to Michael Salman and his family—armed police raids of
his property, repeated warnings against holding any form of Bible study
at his home, and a court-ordered probation banning him from having any
gatherings of more than 12 people at his home—should never have happened
in America,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford
Institute. “If you follow the City of Phoenix’s assertions to their
logical, chilling conclusion, what’s really being said is that there is
no such thing as private property anymore—not if the government can
dictate what you do, when you do it and who you see in the privacy of
your own home.”

Since 2005, Michael Salman and his wife Suzanne have hosted Bible
studies for family and friends. Attendees parked their vehicles on the
Salmans’ 1.5-acre property. In 2007, after some neighbors allegedly
complained about the gatherings, city officials ordered the Salmans to
stop holding the Bible studies in their home, insisting that they were
in violation of the zoning ordinance and construction code. The Salmans
subsequently erected a 2,000-square-foot building in their backyard,
large enough to hold approximately 40 people, which they proceeded to
use for their weekly Bible studies. In June 2009, nearly a dozen police
officers, accompanied by city inspectors, raided the Salmans’ property,
searching for violations. Having determined that Salman’s weekly Bible
studies constituted a church, city officials subsequently charged Salman
with being in violation of 67 codes that apply to commercial and public
buildings, including having no emergency exit signs over the doors, no
handicap parking spaces or handicap ramps. The Rutherford Institute is
challenging the city’s decision to prosecute Salman using commercial
rather than residential building code regulations, as well as its
assertion that Bible studies are not allowed to be held on private,
residential property. City officials claim they can treat the Bible
studies differently than family reunions, football parties or Boy Scouts
solely because they are “religious worship.” Salman is currently
serving his 60-day jail term in the Tent City Jail in Maricopa County.
The Tents Jail, begun in 1993 as a response to jail overcrowding, houses
inmates outdoors in military tents with four Sky Watch Towers for
security, stun fences around the perimeter, facial recognition computer
software for inmate identification, and K-9 units and patrol deputies
for additional security.

Read More: https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/...

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Top Opinion

  • Louisa - Enemy of the State 2012/07/30 22:13:12
    Louisa - Enemy of the State
    This isn't about religion; it's about misuse of a 'residential' property. I don't blame the folks who complain. My neighbors frequently have large parties and I love it. But if it went on every weekend during the entire year, I'm afraid I wouldn't like it at all!!

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  • Kevin1111 2012/07/31 18:07:49
    The title is misleading. He violated lots of codes, the type of gathering does not matter. The city should treat everyone the same regardless of the type of meeting they hold.
  • Inquisitve Kat 2012/07/30 22:25:00
    Inquisitve Kat
    This is fair... he had a bloody church going on, a huge sign on his front lawn, tons of cars coming to his property and disturbing his neighbours, and he had a second building built on his property to serve as his church, which he registered as a business and therefore was treated as a business, appropriately, by the law.
    This wasn't a simple Bible study. Stop screaming persecution.
  • Marvelo... Inquisi... 2012/07/30 22:58:23
    Marvelous Wildfire
    And where does Government get the authority to regulate Religion?
  • Inquisi... Marvelo... 2012/08/01 01:12:35 (edited)
    Inquisitve Kat
    The government has the authority to regulate what is being run as a business. He wasn't sentenced because he was holding a Bible study, he was sentenced because he was running a business, illegally.
  • Marvelo... Inquisi... 2012/08/01 04:08:54
    Marvelous Wildfire
    Did it meet the definition of a business?
  • Inquisi... Marvelo... 2012/08/01 05:47:56
    Inquisitve Kat
    Money was being taken in and it was listed as a business... the money was not being reported, to be taxed... stop trying to justify a criminal's actions... if it was some Pagan, hosting rituals and doing spells, would you still be so supportive?
  • Marvelo... Inquisi... 2012/08/01 14:16:50
    Marvelous Wildfire
    Why wouldn't I?
    I'm not a Liberal, I believe in Freedom for *ALL*, not just what *I* like.
  • Zombie Saddam 2012/07/30 22:18:15
    Zombie Saddam
    Haha! This is your HERO Sheriff Joe Arpaio's County too!!
  • Marvelo... Zombie ... 2012/07/30 22:59:14
    Marvelous Wildfire
    It is, and his Tent City.
  • Louisa - Enemy of the State 2012/07/30 22:13:12
    Louisa - Enemy of the State
    This isn't about religion; it's about misuse of a 'residential' property. I don't blame the folks who complain. My neighbors frequently have large parties and I love it. But if it went on every weekend during the entire year, I'm afraid I wouldn't like it at all!!
  • abubincrazy 2012/07/30 22:00:22
    It seems more like condo commando-ism.
    His neighbors didn't like all the traffic.
  • The Sane One 2012/07/30 21:57:31
    The Sane One
    He built a church in his back yard-- therefore he SHOULD have been subject to the commercial zoning laws.

    Why would he think that he should be treated any differently than any other church in Maricopa County?
  • Marvelo... The San... 2012/07/30 22:11:11
    Marvelous Wildfire
    It's my understanding, that it is *NOT* a church, because there is no denomination supporting it as such, nor does he claim it to be a church.

    "Any any other church in Maricopa County" would be required to at least meet these two points.
    And his Bible study does not.
  • The San... Marvelo... 2012/07/30 22:12:24
    The Sane One
    So non-demoninational churches aren't actual churches?
  • Marvelo... The San... 2012/07/30 22:24:45
    Marvelous Wildfire
    Did you hear what *you* called them?
    Even "non-demoninational churches" to be considered a church, *must declare* themselves to *BEING* a church.
  • The San... Marvelo... 2012/07/30 22:35:15
    The Sane One
    So he can simply say that he's not conducting church services-- when he clearly IS. He even created a building specifically designed to hold church services... but since he *says* he's not conducting church services.

    Definition of 'church':
    a building for Christian worship.
    worship of God or a religious service in such a building: to attend church regularly.

    He seems to have met the criteria.
  • Louisa ... Marvelo... 2012/07/30 22:15:38
    Louisa - Enemy of the State
    Scientology isn't what I call a religion either. Islam is a political system......not much religion there either. Bible Study? Sounds religious to me.
  • Marvelo... Louisa ... 2012/07/30 22:28:50
    Marvelous Wildfire
    A cat having kittens in the oven, don't make them biscuits.
    A Bible Study, doesn't make a building a church.
    And Religious Freedom is covered by the 1st Amendment.
  • Louisa ... Marvelo... 2012/07/31 01:16:39
    Louisa - Enemy of the State
    It's a matter of opinion, isn't it?
  • Marvelo... Louisa ... 2012/07/31 02:45:26
    Marvelous Wildfire
    Not at all.
  • Louisa ... Marvelo... 2012/07/31 02:55:41
    Louisa - Enemy of the State
    Oh.......I see. YOU have the only correct answer. Well congratulations! You're probably the smartest person on Sodahead.
  • Marvelo... Louisa ... 2012/07/31 03:07:23
    Marvelous Wildfire
    You may be right.
    But when it comes to legal issues, it's a matter of Constitutionality and law, not SodaHead opinions.
  • Louisa ... Marvelo... 2012/07/31 03:10:05
    Louisa - Enemy of the State
    That's why we have the Supreme Court. The law isn't always clear on its intent and I think this is the case in this discussion.
  • Inquisi... Marvelo... 2012/07/30 22:26:42
    Inquisitve Kat
    The simple fact of the matter is that he was registered as a business.
  • Marvelo... Inquisi... 2012/07/31 02:43:36
    Marvelous Wildfire
    Was the business listed as "Church"?
    If not, your point is irrelevant.
  • Inquisi... Marvelo... 2012/08/01 01:11:23
    Inquisitve Kat
    The point is he was running a business illegally and calling it a Bible Study.
  • Marvelo... Inquisi... 2012/08/01 04:11:23
    Marvelous Wildfire
    I believe in most places, to be a business, there would need to be currency exchange.

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