Phoenix Pastor Jailed For Holding Home Bible Studies

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Michael Salman, a pastor from Phoenix, Arizona, is currently serving 60 days in prison. He was also sentenced to three years probation and was ordered to pay a $12,180 fine. Salman’s crime? hosting weekly Bible studies on his 4.6 acre property. Salman is being represented by John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, who has petitioned the Arizona Supreme Court.

Whitehead said: “That Michael Salman and his family and friends are not allowed to gather in private to study the Bible goes against every founding principle of the United States of America.” Sounds like a serious violation of the First Amendment.

The City of Phoenix doesn’t agree that this is an issue of religious freedom:

  • [Salman’s] case is about the building that is used for regular assembly does not meet construction and fire code requirements for assembly
  • All houses of worship in the City of Phoenix must conform to the same codes

The City of Phoenix investigated neighbors’ repeated complaints and found numerous fire safety standards violations. Salman has repeatedly ignored opportunities to comply with fire safety standards. Whitehead responded: “I don’t think God intended on us to obey unlawful ordinances. If so, He must be pleased with Hitler huh?”

Apparently those “unlawful ordinances” include taxes since Salman claimed church status for property tax exemption purposes.

Salman was found guilty of 67 Class 1 Misdemeanors, out of 96 civil code violations. Salman appealed and the Maricopa County Superior Court which upheld the convictions stating:

[T]he Defendant was engaged in public or church activities, and further that Defendant’s convictions did not violate his Constitutional right to religious freedom.

H/T: Alethian Worldview, examiner, azcentral, examiner.

129 thoughts on “Phoenix Pastor Jailed For Holding Home Bible Studies”

  1. Hmm… there’s nothing wrong with what happened, except the amount of punishment is too large.

    He’s earning money in tithes from his congregation, so he can spend some meeting the fire codes to ensure their safety.

    If that’s unaffordable then he’s got 4 acres – worship outdoors in a couple of large tents that meet fire safety requirements.

  2. Matt Johnson

    Apparently the scab must still be picked. With all due respect, you’re wrong on both counts and here’s why:

    1. A k***a** does so for for personal gain, whether for monetary, job advancement, social graces or even for thier life.

    The only personal thing I wish to gain here is knowledge and understanding. I’m not here to take the “top dog” spot as previously hypothecised by another reader (there are far too many more qualified here than myself) nor am I looking for my fifteen minutes of fame. Obviously there’s no money to be made here, this isn’t a job and how I’m viewed socially has never been much concern to me. I am what I am and nothing can change that.

    So, I must assume that you have my preference to treat everybody as equals and therefore entitled to pleasantries instead of hostility with being a k***a**. Which leads to the second count.

    2. Sociopath (noun) a person with a psycopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience. (

    With all due respect, charging me with sociopathy based around me being nice is simp0ly absurd! I have exhibited no such indications listed above either here or in my daily life and I see absolutely nothing about being nice in the definition. To label me a sociopath because I refuse to walk with the bullies is like labeling someone an alcoholic just because they might like to occaisionally tip the bottle a little more than they should. It’s just not sound reasoning.

    I’m sorry if my demeaner rub you the wrong way, but I’ll still contribute when I see fit. That’s all I am going to say on this issue.

    It’s time to turn the page.

  3. Bill W.

    Do you know why I know you’re a sociopath? You’re trying too hard to be a ki**a**.

  4. Matt Johnson

    I’ve tried to stay out of the fray in the hopes that this would blow over…instead it is being over-inflated. You label me a sociopath. I know that my co-workers and those who look forward to seeing me so I can see to their personal needs and comfort would strongly disagree with you. While I’m sure your knowledge of psychology is admirable, you may wish to review your evaluation.

    As far as my sincerity, if I could wrap it up in a tidy package and send it to you, I would. Obviously that is not possible, so please grant me the proof of future posts before you continue to question it.


    To All

    I remember as a young man I used to sit idly on warm summer days and pick at my scabs, trophies if ill-planned childhood adventures. My mother would always scold me, “If you keep picking at them, they’ll never heal.” My point? How much longer must we pick at this scab? If we move on to the newer topics given us, the scab will heal.

    I wish a good day to all!

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