Arizona Pastor Begins 60-Day Jail Sentence for Hosting Home Bible Study
Religion TodayReligious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
- 2012 Jul 10
Michael Salman, the Phoenix pastor who was fined and sentenced to jail for holding Bible studies in his home, began his 60-day jail sentence July 9 at 10 a.m., the Christian Post reports. He asked for prayers as he left his wife and six children to report to Maricopa County Jail. "I have spent time with my family this morning praying, crying and saying our goodbye," he wrote on his Facebook page yesterday morning. "My heart is broken, but glory to God. Our God will take care of us and my family. Please pray for us! Until God opens the prison's door, I will be with you all in prayer and spirit." Salman, an ordained pastor and owner of a burger restaurant who hosted Bible studies for seven years on his 4.6-acre property, was found guilty of failing to comply with building, zoning, fire and safety codes applicable to churches. In 2008, the city of Phoenix ordered him to comply with code requirements for churches after neighbors complained about the Bible studies, which drew 50 people to a gazebo in his backyard. When Salman refused, saying the order violated his free exercise rights, he was fined $12,180, sentenced to 60 days in jail and given three years of probation, during which he could not have more than 12 people in his home. "They're cracking down on religious activities and religious use," he told Fox News Radio last week, contending that the building used in his yard was not a church. "They're attacking what I as a Christian do in the privacy of my home."