And then there was this…
“Michael Salman, a pastor from Phoenix, Ariz. who was fined and sentenced to jail, began serving his 60 day sentence on Monday.
Salman was found guilty of code violations for hosting Bible studies on his 4.6 acre property. He has been holding the Bible studies for 7 years. He was ordered to 60 days in prison and three years probation and was also ordered to pay a $12,180 fine.
He believes he was criticized for his religious faith and insisted the City of Phoenix would allow gatherings for poker or football…
‘They’re cracking down on religious activities and religious use. They’re attacking what I as a Christian do in the privacy of my home.’
Salman and his wife made a YouTube video which can be seen arguing their cause and how they violated codes no more than their neighbor who happened to have a lot of cars in his driveway and even on to the street.
The Phoenix prosecutor’s office said the violations were not about religious freedom, but about zoning and proper permitting. A lot of the dispute is whether a building in Salman’s backyard is a church or not. City says yes, Salman says no.
Salman has fought the battle in court but has been ruled against many times, most recently in 2010 where the court stated that the state is not prohibiting him from running a church or worship services at the location, but rather the state just requires Salman to abide by proper fire and zoning codes.
Michael asked for prayers as he left his wife and kids Monday morning to begin serving his sentence at Maricopa County Jail.”
So where do we go with this?
How do we wrestle with the wisdom and/or lack of it?
Truthfully, I don’t know. While this is seemingly one of those issues where pre-engrained opinion only becomes more affirmed, our perspective is limited. We do not know all the details regardless of the passion of our opinion or the depth of our curiosity.
Some will cry discrimination. The authorities are only enforcing the law because Salmon is a Christian.
Others will encourage ignoring that Salman is a Christian. Laws are laws. Zoning is zoning. Let’s take the faith out of it.
Yet I wonder if we would “take the faith out of it,” so-to-speak, or overlook the primary purpose of the group’s meeting, if that group was…
… the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People?
… the National Rifle Association?
… the American Association of Retired Persons?
… the International Gay and Lesbian Association?
… the Council on American–Islamic Relations?
… the National Football League Players Association?
… or, the International Tupperware Alliance?
(Ok, so I was kidding about the Tupperware.)
Friends, from our limited perspective, it’s difficult to discern the wisdom of the enforcement in Phoenix; it’s even more difficult to discern the wisdom of the law.
But can we “take the faith out of it”? Probably not.