Bible study leader Michael Salman is sitting in jail today after his home was raided earlier this week by more than a dozen Phoenix, Ariz. police officers and city officials. His offense? The city says people aren’t allowed to hold private Bible studies on their own property.
Salman was sentenced to 60 days in jail, three years probation and received a $12,180 fine for “the crime.” His wife Suzanne spoke with Fox and Friends this morning to express her shock and disbelief at the entire situation. According to Suzanne, the city told her that her husband was essentially arrested because the Bible study was at a private house .. and that essentially, it’s a church. Since they weren’t zoned for church, they were told they were breaking the rules.
“It defies logic, honestly. I don’t understand … that something so small got so large like this,” Suzanne said. “People do it all over the United States all the time.”
John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute believes the family is being discriminated against because of their faith. “The key is — the Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of religion … the right to assemble and talk to each other wherever you want to be – in public or in your home,” he said. “The thing that I think is so shocking is that you might expect this in Iran or [some place] around the world … but happening in the United States, this is so shocking it’s beyond belief.”
Phoenix City Prosecutor Vicki Hill said in a statement: “It came down to zoning and proper permitting. Anytime you are holding a gathering of people continuously as he does, we ave concerns about people being able to exit the facility properly in case there is a fire, and that’s really allt his comes down to.”
What do you make of this case? As Suzanne says in the below interview, is this different than a regularly meeting Tupperware group or the like? And if so, how and why? Click the url for interview.
Thanks Johnny........my letter sent to the Mayor...........
The arrest of Pastor Michael Salman for conducting a bible study in his home is a travesty and in direct violation of the United States Constitution. If a Pastor or anyone cannot conduct a Bible study in their private home, we are one step away from tyranny. The US Constitution is still the law of the land......I suggest the Phoenix government get out of the spiritual lives of it's citizens. I and thousands of others will force the city of Phoenix into bankruptcy before we allow our First Amendment rights to be violated and our right to worship infringed. As the Mayor, I suggest you take action to stop this travesty before it costs your political future and devastates the city of Phoenix.
Here are my two cents worth...
Pastor Michael Salman is a law abiding citizen
The arrest of Pastor Michael Salman for conducting a bible study in his home is incomprehensible, I cannot believe this insubordination to We The People is happening in Arizona of all places, a trendsetter in controlling illegal immigration, Phoenix leadership abuses it's own law abiding citizens by violating The First Amendment.
I urge you to stop this hypocrisy, even treachery, if commercialization is at issue stay home and watch commercials, no harm no foul... leave We The People ALONE!!! We The People can and will identify then take care of harmful to life assemblies based on The Founders' principles =>you know the anti-tyranny and anti-sharia principles.
The thought that comes to my mind is, what if they were to gather in a public park or some other public place, would there be a problem with that? This is just ridiculous, as many have pointed out, what about weekly poker games, or Avon parties and the like, are they all illegal? This has got to stop. We need to get into our planning phase and decide as a group what it is we are going to do, now.
----- Original Message -----To: firstname.lastname@example.orgSent: Thursday, July 12, 2012 2:50 PMSubject: Re: Arrest of Pastor
Dear Mr. Riley,
Please see Mayor Stanton’s letter below, addressing the Harvest Fellowship Home/Church Life Safety Issue.
If you find that you need more information, please visit:
Thank you for contacting me regarding this important issue. I have heard many passionate voices on the home/church life safety issue and I appreciate your thoughts and advocacy and take all communication from the public very seriously.
As a Christian and as Mayor of Phoenix, I cherish the diversity of religion that we have in this city whether that be Christians, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Sikhs and all other faiths. Our city cherishes the First Amendment which requires the city to not discriminate against any expression of faith but also ensures that one church is not treated differently than any other.
The city’s sole concern in this matter is protecting life safety where the public assembles. In the case of Harvest Christian Fellowship Community Church, the church never asked for nor received an appropriate building permit. The permit would require an inspection of the building to ensure it complies with life safety requirements. This is the same requirement as every other church in our city.
The Phoenix City Prosecutor has briefed me on this issue and explained to me that Harvest Christian Fellowship Community Church, which has sought church status for tax exemption purposes, held services twice a week with gatherings of up to 80 people. From 2006 to 2010, Harvest Fellowship continued having services on the property, even though Pastor Michael Salman, owner of the property, was notified by the city to comply with building codes for life safety of those who attend; he refused. In 2010, a municipal court judge found Mr. Salman to be in violation of 96 Phoenix City Code violations, including building, fire, and zoning codes. Mr. Salman refused to comply with the codes, refused to follow the court’s order and was subsequently convicted of 67 misdemeanors. He was placed on probation for three years and ordered to obey the law, to pay fines and surcharges and to spend 60 days in jail. He continued to refuse to allow a life safety inspection. An Arizona Superior Court judge affirmed his convictions and sentence; the State Court of Appeals also denied him relief. The United States District Court denied Mr. Salman's request to intervene.
As mayor, I will always do my best to ensure our city protects the first amendment rights of everyone. By the same token, I will also ensure life safety protections are appropriately enforced.
I hope this letter provides you a better understanding of the facts surrounding this matter. I look forward to hearing any additional thoughts, comments or ideas you have about this issue or any other issue facing our city.
Mayor Greg Stanton
I received the same response to my letter, my response:
The First Amendment does not include ensuring life and enforcing safety, that is an INDIVIDUAL responsibility, mature adults can determine for ourselves which house is safe and which man is trustworthy... We do not need a big brother, thank you.
This is why it is very important for ALL...Legal, TAXPAYING, VOTING citizens to go to the polls and vote out those individuals that are self serving in their agendas, that DO NOT, WILL NOT support the legal U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The claims that this type of action is for the sole purpose of "protecting" the citizens with in the house is just purely illigical. As legal residents of Phoenix are you going to accept this blatant violation of your civil rights? You, as legal taxpayers should be storming the bastions of city hall. Most importantly, where are the many other churches and religeous organizations? Why haven't you banded together to fight such violations of your civil rights?
Here is what I sent to the Mayor.
It would appear that the arrest and detention of Mr. Salman is causing concern about the freedom of religion as addressed in the constitution. There is also the problem of freedom to assemble. If Mr. Salman has indeed broken the law and your city finds that he must be punished for it then possibly your city should look into changing the related regulations, laws, etc... I cannot imagine that our weekly get together of family and friends would be against any law that would be considered lawful and correct under the U.S. Constitution or that of any state. Thank you for your time. Respectfully, Johnny Smith, Talladega, Al.