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