This story sure makes it sound like a Christian is getting wrongly persecuted just for holding a Bible study in his home…:
Wait… that’s FOX News… we should all double check this.
*Hemant turns on the Google*
Well, that was easy:
The problem is that the Salmans told the city they planned to use the building as a personal “game room.” Instead, they’re using it as a church.
… In the e-mails, sent in April just before the city signed off on final construction, city officials pointedly explained that the building can’t be used for church assembly.
“A church assembly use is not allowable under City Code unless the site is developed as a commercial project,” a staffer wrote.
Salman responded, agreeing that the building “will not be used for a public place of worship. It is for private use. Yes, we are not planning to convert the 2,000-square-foot building into a public place of worship and do understand that if we want a public place of worship that we will have to adhere to the building codes and such.”
“This is for private, personal use,” Salman says. “We’re not going to put signs up there with worship service times. We don’t advertise anywhere. We have gatherings at our house. That’s not against the law.”
That’s a distinction the city isn’t buying.
City spokesman David J. Ramirez says the issue isn’t the nature of the assemblies. It’s safety. There are no sprinklers in the outbuilding and no emergency exits, yet the room features 145 chairs. “It’s a hazard to pack 145 people into a space like that,” Ramirez says.
Indeed, for all the protestations that they aren’t hosting church services, the Salmans are, at best, walking an incredibly fine line. Unlike most small, home-based fellowships, they’ve got all the trappings of a church. A sign on their gate announces “Harvest Christian Community Church.” Advertisements for the fellowship’s Web site, www.hcfaz.org, pepper the family’s two vans. And, of course, Salman goes by “Pastor.”
In short, no one’s persecuting Michael Salman for holding a Bible study at his house.
When that many people are attending his house on a regular basis, though, his house is subject to the zoning regulations of the city. Salman thinks he deserves special treatment for some reason. He doesn’t.
The city is only trying to protect the people who visit him each week. Instead of doing what he needs to do to make sure his guests are safe, Salman is playing martyr and crying “Persecution!”
By the way, that article is from 2009. That’s how long this fight has been going on. He’s appealed, and he might have won his case, but then he took himself to jail, and the cops sent him back home… whatever. I don’t know what the status of his situation is at this moment.
But we do know this: If anyone tells you Salman is being jailed for hosting a Bible study, they’re lying to you.
(Thanks to Jennifer for the link)