Pastor defies bureaucrats, goes to jail for hosting a home Bible study
Michael Salman faces a 60-day sentence and $12,000 fine after Phoenix, Arizona, police catch his family having church again.
Whitehead said those writing the standardized rules seem inordinately concerned about controlling religious groups.
“If you have a small gathering in your home for any kind of religious meeting, you’re going to be harassed by the government to somehow square with the zoning regulations for a formal institution,” he says. “We’re getting people who now are getting phone calls from zoning agents because they have five or six people meeting in their home.”
Salman’s case, says Morgan, “should be a resounding wake-up call to every American who holds the right to worship freely close to their heart. Around the world, governments are using all sorts of laws to control and suppress religious gatherings. We cannot stand idly by as the United States does the same.”
“They’re cracking down on religious activities and religious use,” Salman told Maegan Vazquez for Fox News before his arrest. “They’re attacking what I as a Christian do in the privacy of my home.”
Salman is unapologetic, says Whitehead. “I’m sure he’d do it all over again.” In fact, he is already doing it again – but this time while in jail, observes Vazquez. “Salman has assembled a Bible study group on site that has been attended by as many as 30 inmates.”
Although Arpaio has stayed out of the controversy, deputies selected Salman to lead inmates in prayer for the anniversary of the county’s rustic Tent City jail, “just before they dined on moon pies,” according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.
Is Salman guilty? The defiant preacher says “the only people who came to our home were family and friends,” in a video posted online before he reported to jail. “Our home was not open to the public; it was private.”
More from Beliefnet