Despite What FOX News Tells You, Michael Salman Is Not Going to Jail for Hosting a Bible Study

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)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Gordon Duffy

    If only someone had thought to build a church in his town, but clearly there were none. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-De-Fleuriot/611844223 Mike De Fleuriot

    It would seem to be a theist is to tell a lie.

  • Sailorsguide

    Religions need to to be treated and taxed as businesses. If he is welcoming this flock to his house, he does not accept contributions, and funds it all from his work as a car salesman or whatever, then why not? that is just a gathering of like minded people.

    • Logical_Thinking

       Really? Taxed? As a business? Do you know the United States Constitution? “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
      prohibiting the FREE exercise thereof; 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.” There are many portions of this being violated here than just the religion aspect.

      Also why does everyone blame FoxNews for everything? FoxNews was not the only news to report on this, so people need to QUIT BLAMING FoxNews haha. The news reported by FoxNews is accurate as well. No one can dispute that. Essentially, this man is being fined and jailed for having 40+ people at his house once a week. His neighbors complain? I had larger keg parties each week at my house with no problem. Seriously? And we charged $2-$3 a cup! haha It is his private property that he purchased, and if the man wants his religious friends/followers to come over and sing hymns in HIS backyard and read the Bible they have the right to as long as nothing gets out of control, things are not broken, and quiet enough to not disturb the peace. The man’s house is NOT open to the public, and only to the select people he invites over. A Christian Church is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, which means anyone can show up at any time to seek help and salvation. In this case they cannot because it is NOT a church. People have gatherings all the time at their homes for specific things:
      birthday parties, religious, sex toy parties, tupperware parties, etc. I
      mean come on. This is ridiculous.

      Also I am pretty sure the message this man is delivering is no where near Westboro Baptist Church, and yet those people still have the right to speak and assemble.

      • Wild Rumpus

        “whoosh” – right over your head… oh Logical_Thinking… you are neither. Hemant, close the door, the trolls are getting in again…

      • Stev84

        The “free” in “free exercise” isn’t the same as in “free beer”

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        Nothing in the Constitution prevents religious organizations from being taxed. In some cases, in some states, they do pay taxes. All the Constitution guarantees is the right of the individual to maintain whatever religious beliefs he chooses.

      • Octoberfurst

        Logical-thinking, you have not got a clue. (And logical you are not.)  So you have at  weekly beer parties at your house with 40+ attending? And you charge money? Got a liquor license? And unless you live in the boondocks I am sure that your neighbors must love you.
          Of course you missed the whole point of the story. The man was having a huge number of people over at his house with cars clogging the streets in his neighborhood. I can see why the neighbors were upset. I would be too. He claims his house isn’t a church but then he says it is. In any case he is violating zoning laws.
          If this idiot wants to have people over for a “Bible study” I suggest he rent a hall somewhere that can accomodate all his followers instead of playing the martyr.  

        • http://twitter.com/mfirebrand1 Margie

          From what I read the people were parking on his property. 

        • Tgraumenz

          so you must believe that it is ok to let other people pass laws that dictate what you do in your own home?  still trying to figure out your point. someone has a party ,attendees park their cars, crowd the same streets your referring to, but they arent bothered because thats considered OK. Why do people care so much that these people congregated in someones home? ccording to the story there were only 12 people in attendance, it wasnt like they were making trouble. Dont forget, this could come back and bite you in the ass, what happens when they tell us that we cant practice something else ? I ask you again, why would you care what people do in their own home?

      • Blitzgal

        “Essentially, this man is being fined and jailed for having 40+ people at his house once a week.”

        Incorrect.  He wants to have it both ways — the tax exempt status of a church, but none of the responsibilities that go along with operating a church, which include such things as fire department access, emergency exits, and adequate parking.  Those regulations aren’t just for shits and giggles.  If there is an emergency situation and people die in that building because he didn’t bother following safety code, I guarantee you he’ll still be pointing the finger at the city and claiming he’s an innocent victim.  People like this refuse to take any responsibility for their actions.  And of course you have the little issue of his neighbors being harassed by members of this church and even an arson attack.

        • Onamission5

          It occurs to me that he’s also trying (and thus far succeeding) to get out of having to pay property taxes on his 1.4 acres or his 2000 sq ft home by claiming it’s a church. Never mind it wasn’t zoned for that, permitted for that, and that he isn’t complying with any of the regulations which would allow him to have a church on the property.

          So basically he’s also committing tax fraud.

        • Onamission5

          It occurs to me that he’s also trying (and thus far succeeding) to get out of having to pay property taxes on his 1.4 acres or his 2000 sq ft home by claiming it’s a church. Never mind it wasn’t zoned for that, permitted for that, and that he isn’t complying with any of the regulations which would allow him to have a church on the property.

          So basically he’s also committing tax fraud.

      • Isilzha

        In most places you can’t have a garage sale every weekend at your home.  That’s because the frequency you do something also changes the nature of it.  If someone has a garage sale every weekend then it becomes an illegal commercial enterprise that violates zoning, licensing, and other laws.  If someone has a huge gathering every week at their home and hangs out signs for a church, then they are trying to run a church at a property that’s not intended for such gatherings. 

        Dude, the laws aren’t there just to protect YOU, they seem to be (greatly) needed to protect others from you and your ilk.  You don’t get special treatment just because you’re claiming ‘religion’.

      • Baby_Raptor

        “Free exercise” does not mean monetarily free. It means that the government cannot restrict what religion you practice. 

        And really, he’s right. Religion’s tax exempt status needs to go out the window. Ya’ll haven’t been following the rules for a long time now, and you don’t have an undeniable right to a free ride. 

      • http://twitter.com/mfirebrand1 Margie

        Some of these people are commenting like we are already under Chinese rule.  Sheeple.

    • Ibis3

      You missed the whole “cramming 145 people into a room built without regard to appropriate fire regulations is not a good plan that the government can endorse” thing didn’t you? Not to mention the man’s neighbours being subjected to these noisy, street-congesting gatherings on a regular basis. Sorry. Even if the guy is funding the thing from money pulled out of his ass, that doesn’t address the issues.

  • jdm8

    He spins string so hard that he made rope.

  • hoverFrog

    Christian lies. In other news “dog barks at man”.

  • Xeon2000

    We all know that Fox knows the truth. They’re a for profit enterprise with no morals trying to rile up the yokels with a “controversial” story. It’s like Jerry Springer for the news. People watch Fox for laughs or because they’re too dumb to realize its a joke.

    • Borax

       The difference between Fox and Springer, is that I’m more likely to believe what I see on Springer.

    • Lucy

       My dad watches Fox :(

      • Deven Kale

         You think that’s bad? My Dad gets his news from Rush Limbaugh! :@

        • amycas

           Mine too. Eww.

        • http://twitter.com/mfirebrand1 Margie

          He needs to switch to alex Jones.

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      People watch Fox for laughs or because they’re too dumb to realize its a joke.

      Please don’t downplay the underlying problem: that many people do, in fact, look to Fox News for “factual” news and rely on it, sometimes as their sole source of “news”.

  • Blitzgal

    Also on page two of the article: “In April, a pickup belonging to one of Salman’s most vocal critics was set on fire. It’s being investigated as arson — and, as Salman acknowledges, he’s been accused by some neighbors as a “person of interest.” (For the record, Salman says he had nothing to do with the blaze; the Phoenix Fire Department didn’t return a call seeking comment.)”

    His neighbors don’t appreciate the 150+ people he has coming in and out of his property in this residential area (and who can blame them?).  And in retaliation they’ve been harassed and a truck was set on fire.  Yes, this is clearly the government harassing innocent people.

  • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

    What, you mean that Fox News mischaracterized a story to perpetuate a Christian persecution complex? I find that soooo incredibly hard to believe.

    • Borax

       Stop with the attacks against fox news. They are the only fair and balanced news source. They say so. It must be true. Right?

      • Brainiac1515

        yeah they follow the bibles working it says its true so it must be

        • TaylorK

          Fox News does not follow the bible. Not in the slightest. Don’t associate Christianity with Fox News.

  • Alan Christensen

    It’s not enough that religions are tax-exempt. They want to be regulation-exempt as well, otherwise it’s religious persecution.

  • Ryan Jung

    Did anyone here go to that website? www.hcfaz.org Worse than a 12-year-old’s Geocities page.

    • flyb

      Jesus H. Christ, that is a horrible website!

    • Octoberfurst

      I went to that website and was disgusted by it. What a loon!

    • Annie

      Yikes! I was tempted to call the prayer hotline… but don’t really want him to have my number.

    • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

      To be fair, many 12-year-olds have better design taste. Yikes!

    • bk03

      According to the video, I did not watch the video by accident.  “Something” made me do it.  Yes, that something was my curiosity.  Within 40 seconds of the video starting you are already being threatened with hell.  I was surprised I made it past 15 seconds… Must be a sign from god.  Now I am a believer…

  • Sindigo

    You can see his property on Google maps (33°32’52.81N 112° 7’30.98W), complete with cross on the front lawn. He seems to live in a pretty normal neighbourhood. I’d be mighty pissed off if my neighbours had ~50 of their friends round 3 or 4 times a week.

    The comments on the Fox news website though. Wow.

  • Joesue

    Being misinformed and lying are two diffident things. It’s not good to make something sound worse, unless you want to aspire to being like Fox news.

    • jdm8

      But it’s at least more insidious than misinformation.  Airing information without bothering to check it or correct it is getting pretty close to lying.  I understand that Fox isn’t the only organization that doesn’t always check the information they’re given, but in this case, Fox is in the wrong.

  • Eazy E….

    If only he were Muslim then MSNBC, CNN, CBS, ABC & NBC could be outraged…..

    • unclemike

       Yay, more trolling!

    • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

      0/10
      Needs work toproperly get some nibbles.

  • Becky Kemp

    Logical_Thinking, you are exactly right.  This man’s private bible study IS NOT a church, at least not by most standards.  As Christians we believe that the church is not a building but really any group of people that believe in Jesus Christ and come together to share in prayer, Bible readings, and fellowship.  It is a gathering, in his home, on invitation.  If I want to invite all of my friends and family and any friends they would like to bring along over to have a potluck dinner, pray, and read the bible every sunday, do I have to have my home zoned as a church.  Even if we all gather in my “Game Room” ?  This is preventing the free exercise  of their religion any way you look at it.  As long as his guests are not blocking driveways of neighbors, damaging any property, or gathering at very early or very late hours and disturbing the peace, what is the problem?  Just because the neighbors don’t like it?  Big deal.  Unless you believe that the constitution should be changed and we should allow government to regulate our gatherings on private property and our religious freedoms, then be GET OVER IT. 

    • Onamission5

      You seem to have missed the part of the article where he hung a church sign on his property advertising services, after he *lied* to the city and told them it wasn’t going to be a church, and agreed not to hang any church signs. You also missed the parts where the building that he *lied* in order to get built isn’t properly zoned, nor up to code to safely host groups of over a hundred people.  Freedom, you see, doesn’t mean “do whatever the fuck you want no matter how it affects other people.”  Freedom is within the boundaries of the law. When you break the law, you have voluntarily given up your freedom.

      Churches need to be permitted and zoned as commercial buildings, with adequate parking, in areas where the noise and congestion will not inconvenience others at their own homes, and to follow fire codes. This man has done none of these things. He lied, and he broke the law, and now he’s crying persecution?

      • LesterBallard

        I doubt if Becky missed the lies. She just ignored them, because when you lie for Jesus, you get a set of steak knives when you get to Heaven.

      • Baby_Raptor

        She doesn’t care if ponies are inconvenienced, or if the guy lied. He’s a Christian, and those of us who aren’t are bad. That’s it.  

      • http://twitter.com/VoxAZ VoxAZ

        Actually, the sign was at the city’s suggestion as a way to ensure his tax exempt status as a church. This neighborhood is zoned for churches, as are most after Bill Clinton signed 
        RLUIPA. (I live down the street from this property)

        His problem is he himself requested classification as a church. When he went after that tax exempt status as a church, he also opened himself up to building code enforcement as a church.

        If he had left it as a private residence and he wanted to have 50 people over in his living room, it wouldn’t matter if they were worshipping the color orange. The house is big enough and there is adequate parking on his land behind a gate. The street is a fairly busy thoroughfare so traffic isn’t an issue, either. It’s that he wants to have his cake and eat it, too.

        The city of Phoenix isn’t trying to declare Michael Salman’ home a church, Michael Salman is trying to declare his church a home.

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      In most cities and counties, you would be in violation of the law if you had 100+ guests over to your house for even a single party, let alone a regular event- regardless of the reason. Most localities require an event permit for something like that, for the simple reason that most homes were not designed for such a thing. A large gathering of people puts a load on utilities, it may create traffic problems, it interferes with your neighbors’ property use, it poses potential health and safety risks, it may place a disproportionate burden on police and fire departments. Regulating such an event has nothing to do with whether your gathering is for a religious purpose or not.

      The Constitution guarantees only your right to own property, it doesn’t even hint at a right to use that property any way you wish.

    • Octoberfurst

       Oh look everyone, a troll! How nice of you to drop by!  I am sure it didn’t occur to you Becky that having over 100 people come to someone’s house every week DOES create traffic problems.  (That’s kind of a no-brainer.) Just sayin’.

    • LesterBallard

      If they were Muslims you’d be calling in a drone strike.

    • Isilzha

       And lying about how you intend to use the property is OK?  Wait, you people love lying for jeebus.  Oh, and the neighbors have no rights because your religious beliefs give you extra-special rights over everybody else.  Yeah, if this was a mosque you and your cronies would be marching in protest about it.

  • Robert

    What you don’t understand, is he’s being targeted and bullied by the
    building code Nazis. If he has a large enough property to have a
    hundred people over to do what they want, then I say, let ‘em. It
    sounds like he was trying to exercise his natural rights to
    peacefully assemble, and the only way to do it “legally” was to get
    it approved as a church. Then, they hammered him with all kinds of
    violations. He’d be better off taking the sign down and ditching the
    church status and say “fuck you” to the city and the ass-hole cops
    and neighbors. Who is he bothering? The Satan Worshipers next door?
    There shouldn’t be laws on the books that say you can’t use your own
    home as a sanctuary. I own my home and can do whatever I want in it.
    Salman isn’t consistantly breaking laws… its that the laws are
    bullshit and unconstitutional. He’s being targeted and made an
    example of. Sure, the guy is probably a nut, but it doesn’t matter,
    because we are supposed to have rights. THIS IS NOT AMERICA!

    • http://z13.invisionfree.com/Broken_Future Zuiyo Maru

       Really? Building codes are unconstitutional now? When did that become a thing, oh lord of the Libertarians?

      • Robert

        Of course we need laws and building codes to maintain order within a society. But, when building codes supersede our Constitutional Rights and were not infringing on others rights, then YES, REALLY, they would be considered “unconstitutional”.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          The neighbors would disagree on ‘others rights’.  I don’t have a problem with my neighbor having a BBQ and her guests taking up the street parking now and again.  But if it happened every single Sunday?  I might get annoyed, especially if my own friends can’t find a spot to park.  Very little that we do has NO impact on anyone else.

          As for “unconstitutional”, the Constitution does not give you carte blanche to do whatever you want.  Unless that is, you don’t mind me building a nuke in my garage.  It is after all, my right to keep and bear arms…

        • http://z13.invisionfree.com/Broken_Future Zuiyo Maru

           A house isn’t zoned commercial for a reason. Not to mention that there is no way the building in question could be safe; no fire sprinklers or emergency exits means that if there were a fire – probably not unlikely – would mean lots of dead people. It’s the same reason even private businesses and organizations have fire codes – it’s for public safety.

    • RebeccaSparks

      Not sure if serious?

      I found out the hard way that you can’t do everything you want with your home when I tried to run a 50′s diner/taxidermy shop/meth lab in my house. (KIDDING–Seriously not serious ;) ).

      Also, while the building can house 100 people (unsafely), it doesn’t sound like his garage/driveway can accommodate the same number of cars.

      • Parse

        I know!  I had the same problem when I tried to start an abortoplex/barbecue stand in my house!  

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      Sometimes cities and counties are overzealous with codes, sometimes not. But codes exist for a reason: we live in a society, and people need to coexist. This guy lives in a fairly high density area, with close neighbors. It’s perfectly reasonable (and necessary) under those conditions to have rules on property usage. If this guy could use his property any way he wants, it would step on the rights of his neighbors. One purpose of laws (including building codes) is to intelligently balance the rights of many different parties.

      If we all lived according to your Teabagger philosophy, life would be miserable.

      • Isilzha

         Actually, it would be Somalia! 

    • Onamission5

      Actually, there should be laws saying you can’t do whatever the fuck you want regardless of how it affects others. His rights end where the law, and the rights of the other people he affects, begin.

    • unclemike

       “I own my home and can do whatever I want in it.” 

      Until you start holding regular weekly meetings where 145 people are trying to find parking in your neighborhood. See how well that goes over.

    • Blitzgal

      If there is a fire in that building Salman will be the first person pointing the finger at the city and blaming them for that, too.  I guarantee you that.  The “building code Nazis” have these regulations for a reason.  If they can’t get back there to put it out the entire neighborhood is at risk, not just the people in the church.  Fires spread, and quickly.

    • M J Shepherd

      Building code Nazis. Because the city is lining people up and gassing everyone that doesn’t follow the laws.

    • Glasofruix

      I find it funny when conservative wingnuts whine about their “freedum” being taken away by laws, taxes and regulations but in the meantime thay want to
      -be protected by cops
      -have their steets illuminated
      -have acces to affordable healthcare
      -have the army fight dem’ terrorists
      -etc…
      and all that for FREE.

      We have a saying that goes like that: “The milk, the butter, the butter’s money and the milkman’s wife’s ass”

    • Isilzha

      Yeah, here’s a newsflash for ya, Buddy, you CAN’T do anything you want in your home especially if what your doing intrudes on the rights of others.  You may want to blast your stereo and pound that bass, but that intrudes on MY right to have peaceful enjoyment of MY home.  Hey, but if you don’t like that maybe you should move to Somalia and live in a place where the government isn’t going to protect you from other people trampling your rights and freedoms!

      BTW, it seems necessary to say this to you, but you can’t do lots of other things in your own home.  You can’t run a meth lab, abuse children, keep slaves to name a few.

    • Baby_Raptor

      He LIED to the city and is endangering people. Do you folks not get that?

      Here, let me make it as plain for you as I can. The city does not give a Fuck that he’s a Christian holding church. What they give a damn about is that he’s ENDANGERING PEOPLE and causing a huge problem for his neighbors.

      Also, I bet you anything that if a building you were in caught fire and caused you damage, you’d be all over suing and getting your compensation. Those laws wouldn’t be so “unconstitutional” then, Fucking hypocrite. 

    • Thomas Farrell

      HELLO, MORON. HE WAS VIOLATING THE FIRE CODE. IT’S A SEVERE SAFETY HAZARD TO OVERCROWD A BUILDING WITHOUT ADEQUATE FIRE SAFETY EQUIPMENT OR EXITS. EVERYONE COULD DIE.

      That’s it. That’s enough. You want to argue that christians should be exempt from following the same fire safety code as everyone else? Go ahead and try while we laugh our asses off at you.

  • freemage

    From a more recent story, here: http://tucsoncitizen.com/arizona-news/2012/07/11/phoenix-preacher-jailed-in-zoning-dispute/

    “Salman and his wife have not paid taxes on the property since an
    inspector from the Maricopa County Assessor’s Office approved Salman’s
    request to have the property classified as a church in 2008.
    When the inspector visited the home, a sign outside the property
    included the name of the church, according to court documents, and the
    inspector found a podium, folding chairs and other items that allowed
    him to grant the property tax-exempt status.

    At its heart, the case is about relatively mundane issues such as
    zoning, fire codes and construction codes, not the fact that Salman was
    conducting church services in his home, Phoenix prosecutor Aaron
    Carreon-Ainsa said.”

    So it is a church, except when it’s not.  Thanks for clearing that up, Salman!

    • Blitzgal

      Nice, so they want the tax exempt status of a church but don’t want to be required to follow the basic safety and zoning regulations of operating a church.

  • Miko

    Ask any of the people who had their church shut down whether they’re thankful to the city for “protecting” them.  Not one will say yes.  The city may convince dimwits that this has something to do with “protecting” people, but it’s clearly about nothing other than asserting their authority over others.  Note that the core of their argument is that they want the pastor to register his church as a commercial project, no doubt so that they can extort expensive license fees from him.  This story is not about protecting people; it’s about the tyranny of city hall.

    • Onamission5

      Zoning and building regulations exist for a reason.

      I live behind a church that was built in a residential neighborhood. It has adequate, dedicated parking, so that the permanant neighborhood residents don’t have cars piled up in front of their houses. It has its own curbside fire hydrant, so that in the event of fire, there will be sufficient water pressure with which to douse the flames. It has a sprinkler system and multiple exits, so that the occupants of the building can evacuate safely. It was built to code, with all proper, legal permits for a building that holds a couple hundred people on a regular basis. The church, in other words, followed the law. In return, the church enjoys its tax exempt status and right to preach whatever it wants, no matter how distasteful we neighbors find their dogma.  

      The subject of the article wants to circumvent legal permitting and safety regulations, and still retain a tax exempt status. He lied and said directly that he was building a game room, not a church, then turned around and hung a church sign, and applied for tax exempt status as a church. You see nothing wrong with that? Then you be his neighbor.

    • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

      You might want to adjust that tin foil hat.

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      “This story is not about protecting people; it’s about the tyranny of city hall.”

      Except when Muslims or Pagans want to start their own in-home church, then all of a sudden City Hall is being right and proper.

    • Patterrssonn

      “tyranny of city hall”.

      If you’re going to be a conspiracy theorist you might want to aim a little higher, perhaps stir in a communist or an alien or two.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        nah, I’m sure your typical TX city hall is just chalk full of Obama lovin’ commies.  Probably atheists too, every one of ‘em.

    • Isilzha

       Because only the “pastor” and his church have rights?  And if someone was running a bingo club or, the horror, a militant atheist society, that was as large and organized as this church with regular gatherings, signs and website, you’d be just fine with it?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.

    • http://profiles.google.com/kelvins273 Kevin Smith

      Actually, they want him to declare it a commercial enterprise because churches must be located in commerical developments according to city zoning codes that have been around forever. If he wanted to use the building as a church, it was his responsibility to apply for a zoning variance with the city. Unless you have evidence that the city made up this ordinance specifically to go after him, there is no evidence that they’re after him specifically.

      • http://twitter.com/VoxAZ VoxAZ

        Actually, this neighborhood (my neighborhood) is zoned for churches. It always was, but more neighborhoods were opened up after Bill Clinton signed the 
        RLUIPA ”
        giving churches and other religious institutions a way to avoid burdensome zoning law restrictions on their property use”

        AND – the property *was* (is) zoned as a church, which is where Salman’s argument falls apart. He specifically requested tax exempt status as a church, and was granted the status after a review showed he was using the home as a place of worship. 
        http://www.courtminutes.maricopa.gov/docs/Lower%20Court/062011/m4754246.pdfThe tax exempt status eliminates his claim that this is “just a house”, the fact that it was granted after the city observed & approved his services eliminates the “religious persecution”

        I originally jumped on the outrage band wagon when I first heard the story because, even though I am an atheist, I don’t want to see anyone’s Rights trampled. Then I found “the rest of the story” and had to issue a retraction on that outrage LOL
        http://www.bkennelly.com/vox/archives/6402

        • Thomas Farrell

           Uh, no. An inspector decided it was *de facto* being used as a place of worship. They did not actually grant him a zoning variance. You’ve clearly never tried to get a zoning variance… it’s a big pain in the ass process that involves appearing before zoning boards and testifying and letting your neighbors object and maybe not getting your variance. It is *not* something an inspector hands out based on what is already done there, or else everyone could just ignore zoning laws, put up whatever they want, and demand an inspector hand out a variance based on the fact that there was already a business in a residential zone, a home in an office building, etc.

  • Kevin Anthony

    If it was my neighbourhood, my biggest complaint would be the glut of cars parked all over the street.
    The guy next door to me seems to be selling pot. That bugs me a lot less, his guests only park on the street for five minutes, and they don’t come all at once

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      Also, if you brought over a bag of munchies he’d probably invite you in to totally slack on his couch with a doobie for a couple of hours.

    • http://twitter.com/mfirebrand1 Margie

      The neighbors are O.K with this I guess.

  • http://www.facebook.com/don.gwinn Don Gwinn

    Some of you busybodies are probably the same people who got my backyard pistol range shut down with your whining.  You know, we only ever fired 16 rounds before Officer Frownytimes showed up to get the party stopped, and 15 of them have never been proven to have hit anyone, which I think is pretty good for a central location in a small town.

    FREEDOM!

    • Isilzha

      Yeah, what about my hobby of building and testing jet engines in my backyard!  And when I have insomnia I find that a couple of hours of late night jackhammering to be more effective than warm milk.  I mean, it’s my property and I can do WHATEVER I want on it, WHENEVER it want, dabnabbit!!

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Here’s a blogger who did a bunch of research on it and pulls out a lot more background:
    http://news4themasses.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/pastor-michael-salman-not-going-to-jail-for-preaching-but-for-failing-to-obey-the-law/  

    The blogger is a Christian himself, and comments point out many other people who DO have bible studies in their homes.  They’re just, you know, honest about it.

    • Onamission5

      Thanks for linking. It really puts the whole fabricated issue in perspective.

    • http://news4themasses.wordpress.com/ mijadedios

       thanks Rich for linking to my post.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=813165390 Annika Raaen

    As a local government employee…I’m not surprised by this. These are the kinds of people who will commend you for doing your job if you’ve enforced codes on someone they find obnoxious and then turn around and lie and scam you and then scream at you if you try to enforce code on them. If you talk to some of these guys long enough, it becomes apparant that they are of some of the tea bagger, conservative, libertarian, christian ilk. Nearly everytime. (I say nearly because I’ve chatted with the same kind of wierdos who were muslim or hindu, and then one was a buddhist…they come in all shapes and sizes)

    These people want to be held up as the height of our society’s moral standards when they do nothing but cheat and lie to uphold their own sense of paranoia and persecution. It’s obnoxious and kind of scary.

  • SJH

    Just one comment, the City spokesman may be a little disingenuous here. The building code only requires a sprinkler system if your occupancy is over 300 people or greater than 12000 sf and the house likely has two exits which would meet the required number of exits so I do not think fire safety is an issue so I wouldn’t assume that the city is being completely honest here. Having said that, it does seem that the “Pastor” is trying to get around the rules. The city ordinances may be ambiguous, I don’t know, but this building, for all intents and purposes, seems to be a church. As with us all, the Pastor and the city officials are not perfect and are capable of making poor decisions so lets see how things pan out before we jump to conclusions.

  • Farhan39

    Michael Salman has been for few years stating publicly as well as privatelythat he is conducting PRIVATE worship and bible study with his large family and some friends in his home. I have not seen people from his gathering coming out and disputing his claim nor heard of anyone complaining about their safety. Fox news, after interviewing Michael Salman, called him “Credible and honest man”, I trust Fox is telling the truth.  It’s evident that michael Salman is being targeted for persecution. Why would a city persecute a man for dedicating his life to serving the community and the lord during a time when such leadership is much needed? With atheism on the rise, what message are we sending by persecuting a man like pastor Salman. This is another example of excessive use of authority. I am not undervaluing the role of city ordinance, in fact I believe they are critical in safeguarding citizens but if they in any way infringe upon our constitutional amendments then they must be rendered unconstitutional and be ABOLISHED.

    • Stev84

       

      I trust Fox is telling the truth

      And that’s where it all went wrong

    • Isilzha

      We REALLY don’t need your dirty, nasty immoral bible.  Plus, it’s AWESOME that atheism is on the rise AND that more of us are outspoken about it!

      It seems you need a lesson in zoning laws.  This “upstanding” xian guy seems to be lying about how he’s using the property.  Of course, none of you ever seem to think that lying for jeebus is immoral.  Also, you’re very concerned about this guy’s rights and seem to forget that his neighbors have rights too.  One reason we do have zoning laws is to protect from inconsiderate jerks like this “pastor” seems to be.

    • http://profiles.google.com/kelvins273 Kevin Smith

       “I have not seen people from his gathering coming out and disputing his claim nor heard of anyone complaining about their safety.”

      Well, if his congregation is willing to cover for him, there must be no truth the the city’s allegations whatsoever. How could those heartless bureaucrats possibly act against this man when he and all his friends say he’s innocent?

      Thanks for turning this thread into a hilarious Kids in the Hall skit.

    • Baby_Raptor

      You trust Faux. That says everything we need to know about you right there. 

      Please, do some research about how often they lie. Or how they sued to be allowed the right to lie and call it news. Faux does NOT tell the truth. They sell an agenda. 

    • Thomas Farrell

       You haven’t read a thing here, have you? You’ve just come to spout the FOX party line.

      HELLO, MORON. HE WAS VIOLATING THE FIRE CODE. IT’S A SEVERE SAFETY HAZARD TO OVERCROWD A BUILDING WITHOUT ADEQUATE FIRE SAFETY EQUIPMENT OR EXITS. EVERYONE COULD DIE.

      That’s it. That’s enough. You want to argue that christians should be exempt from following the same fire safety code as everyone else? Go ahead and try while we laugh our asses off at you.

  • Pfenn9753

    I have a close friend post the Fox News article on his facebook page recently. I have been tempted to write a comment about the real facts in the story. I choose not to do it since they would not take it in good faith.  It is a shame that this situation of half-truths and out right lies are spewed in the media. It conjures up the worst fears in people especially those with guns and a religion steeped in matrydom.

  • http://twitter.com/VoxAZ VoxAZ

    As much as I am loathe to cite the Phoenix New Times as a source of facts, this older story gives even more background

    http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2008-01-17/news/michael-salman-wants-to-build-a-church-in-his-backyard-his-neighbors-aren-t-buying-it/ 

    One thing it shows specifically is that Michael Salman in 2008 was scheming to get the press he is now getting. He said, 
    “Maybe they’ll get so angry that they’ll do something stupid like put a cease-and-desist on us holding worship there. Eventually, the city can pay for the church!”  He is certainly collecting a fair amount in donations from sympathetic folks who see this issue only in the most basic, headline terms.  Being a martyr has been very, very good to Michael Salman

  • Jeemon

    America is founded by the christians to promote christian values , Here the authorities are using the law to persecute citing security of those who gather ! 

    • Thomas Farrell

       I can’t tell if you’re trolling or a moron. America was *most certainly not* founded by christians and was *most certainly not* founded to promote christian values.
      http://www.nobeliefs.com/Tripoli.htm
      If you spent any time here at all, you  would already know this.

  • Cisnjer

    I knew something didn’t fit..hosting a bible study in my home I was a bit shocked to see this article someone posted on my fb page. Thanks for clarifying :) Christians need to do their research & not take things as face value..ever! Especially from the media..lol

  • Jeemon

    Dear Thomas farrel : Dont tell me that it was founded by aethists and Islamists. Because LIBERTY itself is the christian value , Not Islamic values (see Saudi) not an aeithist value( see China) . Becuase bible says Jesus christ came to Liberate the mankind . And in Christ every man is absolutely free !

    Do you think that the buildings where they signed the treaty of independance was having the same fire and safety standards as today? 

    Read abt George washington,samuel adams, Benjamin Rush…. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=781177955 Rafael Kafka

    Governement can’t regulate the right to assembly, you commie! 

    • http://www.braintarts.wordpress.com/ MichaelL65

      They didn’t

  • Ksdfsd

    check again he is serving his prison sentence so fox was right despite your presumption 

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      The question is why he served a jail (not prison) sentence.  Read the article.

    • Deven Kale

       Hemant isn’t saying that he’s not in prison, he’s saying that he’s there for violating zoning laws (and likely also fraud), not for hosting a Bible study.

  • Guest

    u know , aesthiests in US or any where , they are charged up by any thing christian eventhough none of the christian principles or christian way is harmful to the individial or the society. But they are always chicken to the harmful practices of terrorist religion or the eastern practices. Why they hide themselves against the atrocities or naked human right violations in the middle east ? in china ? U fear that ur hindside will be bombed . But xians an easy target , right ?? as a christian i believe you are free to speak aganist me and my god also. But beware, dont touch the terrorists ! and their religion :-)  

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Always love it when Guest drops in, vomits all over the place, and then staggers off into the night looking for another beer.

  • rickoco

    Gee i dont see muslims arrested for this! Huh ! Hmm! Really ! Sounds like genuine persecution of religious rights. All else is technicalitys.
    Lets put cameras at all intersections and radar your speed and send you a ticket. Then have home inspectors come in anually. With fines. Hey lets have drivers test anually for you people who drive insane. Etc.

  • TaylorK

    This is his own fault. I don’t agree with him being arrested, but at the same time Mr. Salman should have just done what he needed to do to comply with the safety & zoning regulations. If he did instead of acting like he was above the law, then he wouldn’t be in jail to begin with.

  • http://wasatchintercept.blogspot.com/ Gary Moore

    If zoning laws keep some commercial enterprise from building a large factory in the middle of my residential neighborhood, good enough. But if they can they regulate gatherings of people, there is nothing to stop them from telling you that you hold family parties too often, too many people attend, and your guests take up too much parking on the street.

    Instead of making this about one man who doesn’t want to follow the rules, we should be questioning the overreach of zoning laws, and working to expand what we all are entitled to do on our own private property.


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