Phoenix Enters the Twilight Zone – Religious FreedomJuly 10, 2012 1 Comment
July 10, 2012 / MariaNews.com
Phoenix Enters the Twilight Zone – Religious Freedom
By Family Research Council
PHOENIX, ARIZONA (Family Research Council) – In what can only be described as surreal, the City of Phoenix Court has sentenced Mike Salman, father of six and the owner of Mighty Mike’s Burgers to 60 days in jail. What’s the City’s beef with Salman? According to our friend Todd Starnes at Fox News Radio, it has nothing to do with his business; it is what he has been doing at home. About 7 years ago Salman began holding Bible studies in his home that sits on almost 5 acres of land. In 2007 the City sent Salman a letter saying Bible studies were not permitted in their living room because it was a violation of the construction code. In 2009 after securing all the permits, Salman constructed a 2,000 square foot building in their backyard to host the 30 or so people who attended the Bible study. The harassment of the city only continued culminating in a raid of their home by police which led to them being criminally charged with 67 code violations.
What type of violations? No Exit Signs over the doors and no handicap parking spaces in front of their home. Not only was Salman found guilty and sentenced to 60 days in jail, he faces a fine of $12,180 and three years’ probation. The City claims that because Salman was meeting on a regular basis he was operating a church and therefore had to meet zoning codes for public meeting spaces. When asked if the same would apply to someone who had a weekly poker night or a Monday Night Football gathering, the City prosecutor refused to respond.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because it is. City governments are increasingly using zoning ordinances to trample on religious freedom. You may recall the Fromm family in San Juan Capistrano, CA that was fined by the city for violating zoning ordinances by holding a Bible study in their home. Fortunately after a public outcry San Juan Capistrano officials amended their ordinances to be faith friendly and refunded the fine. Religious freedom is our First Freedom and it recognizes our right not just to attend church services on Sunday mornings but to live out our faith in a real and tangible way. That would include the right to have a Bible Study, small group, or other “church” meeting in your own home.
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