Religious Persecution or Building Code Violation?

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girlisrad's picture
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Religious Persecution or Building Code Violation?

http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2012/07/07/phoenix-man-sentenced-to-jail-after-hosting-bible-study-in-his-h/?ncid=webmail1

Excerpts:

A Phoenix man who held weekly Bible studies at his home has had the book thrown at him over the religious gatherings. Michael Salman (pictured above) has been sentenced to two months in jail and more than $12,000 in fines because the group sessions at his home were against the city's building code, Fox News Radio reported.

"They're cracking down on religious activities and religious use," Salman told Fox News Radio. "They're attacking what I as a Christian do in the privacy of my home."

Vicki Hill, Phoenix's chief assistant city prosecutor, said religious freedom had nothing to do with it and that it was a matter of public safety.

"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," Hill told Fox News Radio. "It came down to zoning and proper permitting."

Salman then decided to construct a 2,000-square-foot building in his backyard and move the gatherings there. He said that he applied for and was granted the appropriate permits for the building.

Hill, however, said that the permits Salman received were for converting his garage into a game room.

Finally, in 2009, a dozen cops raided Salman's home and charged him with 67 code violations for hosting the gatherings.

Since then, the courts have sided with the city, saying that Salman was using the building as a church and, therefore, was subject to city zoning laws.

"He built a structure that he said wasn't a church that is, in fact, a church," Hill told Fox News Radio.

You can read the article in its entirety on the link...

So, religious persecution? Is the city/state/court in the right? Discuss!

mom3girls's picture
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I would say that a 12 cop raid and 67 code violations seems very extreme. Until that point I felt like the city was very concerned about the safety issue, now it would seem that they are a little more concerned about what is taking place on private property

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I found another article that states he had 40 people at his house 2-3 times week. He likens it as similar to someone having a poker game. Not even close. If my neighbor had 40 people at their house that often I would go nuts. The traffic on my street, that many cars parked would cause such an issue.

He is claiming that he had the right permits to build the structure to hold these sessions and Phoenix is stating he lied to get his permits and I believe them in this case. He was already in their watch for what he did before...did he really think that they weren't going to figure out his "game room" was really a church?

girlisrad's picture
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I think that yes, it IS extreme what they are doing HOWEVER i believe it is based on the fact that he is being as sneaky and underhanded as possible to get his point across. If he were holding a poker game with 40 people every 2 days? I believe he would be receiving the same treatment he is now. This has little to do with Religion, and more to do with just being a nuisance.

That being said I am sure that their neighbors are just FED UP with the cars and the traffic and the people that those meeting probably produce. Squeaky wheels get the grease, and I would not doubt those neighbors are on the phone every single time they meet. I would be so frustrated with that guy!

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I think he really believes in what he is saying, but he is wrong. I think as an arbitrary number, 15 would be the cutoff for more than once a week meetings. Anything larger than that is obviously more like church than a meeting.