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City of Phoenix shuts down Bible study, puts leader in jail for teaching

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 1 2015 2:59 p.m. MDT

In a YouTube video, Michael Salman and his wife explain the dispute they have had with the city of Phoenix over Bible study meetings.  (YouTube) In a YouTube video, Michael Salman and his wife explain the dispute they have had with the city of Phoenix over Bible study meetings. (YouTube)

Our take: Phoenix resident Michael Salman is getting ready to serve 60 days in jail for refusing to stop hosting Bible studies in his home. He is also expected to pay a $12,000 fine and will face three years of probation for violating his city's building codes. Calling Salman's Bible studies "reminiscent of a home church", the city of Phoenix is cracking down on the religious practices that Salman argues are part of his rights within the confines of his private home.

We’ve told you before about government regulations hampering home Bible studies, but this story is even more pervasive, perplexing and complicated than the others. Michael Salman, who lives in Phoenix, Ariz., has been sentenced to a startling 60 days in jail, given a $12,180 fine and granted three years probation for refusing to stop hosting Bible studies at his home. Why, you ask? He‘s apparently in violation of the city’s building code laws.

City officials claim that he’s running an operation that is reminiscent of a home church — but without the required permits. And according to Fox’s Todd Starnes, Phoenix court documents show that he violated 67 codes. Unless the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals grants an emergency injunction, he will be jailed as early as next week.

Naturally, Salman believes the court’s findings amount to a crackdown on faith and religion. The city maintains that the penalties are legitimate based on the zoning laws he and his family have violated. However, Starnes was apparently unable to reach the Phoenix prosecutor’s office, the mayor’s office or code enforcement to obtain further comment.

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