Pastor Michael Salman Reports to Jail Over Phoenix Home-Worship Flap, but Gets Turned Away; 60-Day Sentence Still Looms

Categories: Church People

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Image: YouTube
Suzanne and Michael Salman prepared a video before Michael surrendered to jail to begin a 60-day sentence relating to worship services in his home. But he was sent home and is now waiting for the city to make its next move.

Michael Salman, who's been squabbling with Phoenix for years over his home-worship services, says he was sent home Saturday night after he showed up at jail to begin his 60-day sentence.

Salman's been fighting the sentence since his September 2010 conviction for violating building codes at his 1.5-acre property near 31st and Northern Avenues. His struggle to be allowed to have 40 or so people at his home each week for worship services has been going on since 2007, as New Times has chronicled. The home has even been raided by police -- twice. City inspectors say a structure on the property where the gatherings take place isn't safe.

After a lengthy battle in federal court, last week a judge denied his motion to block the sentence and tossed his civil lawsuit. Theoretically, that meant he should have to serve the sentence.

But it seems as though city officials lost their nerve after Salman self-surrendered and was booked in at the Maricopa County jail. Inexplicably, jail officials sent him home, Salman says.

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Michael Salman and family.

"God granted me an injunction," Salman says today, without a trace of irony.

At this point, he says he's waiting for a phone call from the Phoenix City Court, which is expected to give him another self-surrender date. He's scheduled to be back in city court on June 28, at which point he could be ordered to jail.

However, in the meantime, he and his attorney plan to file another motion with the U.S. Ninth Circuit of Appeals in an attempt to stall or quash the sentence.

We left a message with the city and hope to find out if Phoenix officials are just bluffing, or whether they really intend to jail the pastor. No doubt, officials aren't looking forward to the negative headlines that jailing Salman would generate. But with pressure from Salman's neighbors and code-compliance officers, the pastor may soon be preaching to inmates instead of his usual flock.

Salman says his kids were "crying their faces off" before he drove to the jail, and he even prepared a YouTube video in which he rails against the city and defends what he believes is his right to have weekly worship services at his home.

Now he's back in the holding pattern.

Salman is also the owner of Mighty Mike's Burgers in Phoenix, and he and his wife, Suzanne, run a credit-card processing company, as well. All that's in addition to his volunteer work as a minister for the weekly home services and the Harvest Christian Fellowship.



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19 comments
Greenleaf
Greenleaf

If the 2,000 SF addition was built with a building permit in conformity to residential code, and the use is ancillary to the primary residential use, then there is no zoning violation.  If a person can have social events at their house of similar numbers of people, the City has no business looking at whether it is a chess tournament, a poker party, a political fund raiser, sports fans watching the home team every week, or a Bible study and hymn sing.  The government has no business regulating the addition based on the type of speech occurring in the room.

Greenleaf
Greenleaf

If Phoenix doesn't make it illegal to have social gatherings of 50 people in your 4 acre residence, than they can not discriminate between religious and non-religious speech.  Their laws and enforcement must be "content neutral" to what is being said or else it is unconstitutional.  Phoenix looks ripe for a religious liberty suit. 

Pmudub
Pmudub

I see the love of Christ shining through here.

Aaron
Aaron

If the laws are unconstitutional then he should contest them in court, not continue to violate them. Please, please, please read the Bible: Romans 13:1 and 1 Peter 2:13-17. Actually read all of 1 Peter. The entire letter is about what to do when you are persecuted for doing what is right. Unfortunately, Pastor Salman is being persecuted for doing what is wrong, i.e., violating the law.

Aaron
Aaron

As a Christian and a pastor in a local church I am disappointed by what Pastor Salman has done. As soon as he was sited with the zoning violations he should have rented some space and moved the location of his church. He has all the right in the world to hire a lawyer and contest the zoning codes as unconstitutional, but he does not have the right to continue to violate them. Even his Christian beliefs should tell him that. Romans 13:1 and 1 Peter 2:13-17 discuss how Christians are to live in relationship to authority. No where does it say that Christians are above the law. Pastor Salman, as a shepherd of a flock of believers, should have taken this as an opportunity to show how the Bible can have a direct influence and relevance in their daily lives. Instead he has made a mockery of Christianity by his selfish desire to have things his way.

Aaron
Aaron

As a fellow Christian I'm disappointed by your rant about the President of the United States of America.  Your comments about him have nothing to do with the story and only serve to make Christians (and by association God) seem judgmental, ignorant, and filled with hate.  If an individual decided to build a mosque or a temple of any religion in their backyard they would also be required to follow zoning laws. And if you were their neighbor you would be right in complaining about the disruption their meetings would cause to your daily life. A residential back yard is not the place to build a church. Perhaps you should do some research and find out how many back yard mosques there are in the Phoenix area. I would be willing to bet there are none.  Yes, I'm sure that building a church in your back yard is cheaper than buying a separate property or renting a space somewhere else, but if it's against zoning laws then it shouldn't be done.   Christians and churches aren't exempt from the laws of the land, the Bible clearly tells us to submit to the government officials that God has placed in leadership over us (Romans 13:1; 1 Peter 2:13-17; and yes this includes the President, who, to use the words of the KJV, is "ordained" by God to be in authority). Pastor Salman recently posted on Facebook that this was for the glory of God. God is not glorified when his followers blatantly disobey scripture to pursue political agendas. This isn't about freedom of religion. Pastor Salman and Harvest Christian Fellowship have every right to meet and worship. No one is saying they can't. But they don't have the right to build a church in their back yard if it is violation of the law.

Carol
Carol

Who ever this neighbor is that called the police on this family must  be a SERIAL MOM WANNA BE. Would you find something to do then get innocent people in trouble. POLITICALLY CORRECT JERKS.

Rcrana
Rcrana

  If Mr. Salman is considering filing a lawsuit against the city of Phoenix I would certainly like to contribute to the cause.

Charles Thomas
Charles Thomas

I'll at least give you credit for being the only fundie to admit he's running a church, despite his website and YouTube stream proclaiming his church from the pulpit.  The church is illegal.  You can't just throw one up in your back yard. You want anarchy, go move to the wilderness.

Charles Thomas
Charles Thomas

Except it's a church, dumbass.  Go to his website.  Derp.

Charles Thomas
Charles Thomas

His website says it all.  He's a con artist.  No, seriously, he's a convicted felon. He even went to prison for a drive-by.

Charles Thomas
Charles Thomas

Your blog is more dishonest than Fox news.  Shame on you!

Charles Thomas
Charles Thomas

Are you really so dense that you don't know what irony looks like?  He was being sarcastic.  Derrrrp!

Charles Thomas
Charles Thomas

We're all haters of  blah, blah, blah?  So, you don't have to obey the law is what you're saying?  If he got a church property instead of setting up a website for the church in his yard inviting people to join, we wouldn't give a shit.  You 'radicals' need to just get it over with and strap a bomb to your chest for Jesus.

Wee
Wee

How about we strap a bomb to *your* chest, detonate it, and see what happens, all just for you?  Don't worry, it is our gift to you, free of charge.  You may enjoy it for as long as it lasts.  However, it will not be for very long if the bomb in question that is placed on your chest is any good.

Charles Thomas
Charles Thomas

That's a lie.  Look at his website for his church that he runs out of his yard.  You know, the one where he explicitly says it's a church and invites new congregants?  Quit making shit up, people.

Louis
Louis

 Funny, ---- I was thinking the Liberals would re-crucify for being too conservative lol, a life is a life, running the money changers ( no moral compass)  out of  the Temple, forgiving and rebuking the adulteress, And I think we have no fear of Christ showing up all the sudden in America, we have evicted him from our schools, erased him from our halls of political leadership, mocked  him in our news and television broadcasts, and dismissed him from our spheres of influence.  We rarely call upon him except in times of tragedy, and then only in accusation " Why would God let this happen?"                                              We know as  Christians where ever two or more are gathered.......so is he, so defining Church ....... is truely where ever two or more are gathered.   Seems like alot are going to jail in Phoenix lol.   If no money is exchanged and those people come together  to worship God - is it a Church.   In Gods eyes.......yes, (seems in the councils eyes as well)  So does that make a  sunday football game with a couple of dozen freinds over to drink beer and eat and watch the game ..........a sports bar?  No  money is exchanged yet they meet ever sunday or saturday to watch a game.  ---- Seems like that should be a sports bar then.  If a family invites a bunch of kids over to swim  or play  games , maybe even have a birthday party  does that make it a Entertainment Center,  no money is exchanged ( if you discount the b-day presents, and a contribution to a "pizza party", seems like all kids partys should be licensed.   What happens at a local politicians home when all his supporters come over to stuff envelopes and create signs ,  shouldn't that be a Marketing Company?  each one share share a common feature -------- all are private and by personal invitation only.  Salman is operating a private ceremony , it is not open to the public. And in the extreme for those that don't believe in Christ --- you could call it entertainment, they gather, read, discuss , sing and enjoy the company of each other and the Good Book hmmmmmmmmm ,  wow ,  substitute Harry Potter and associated books for a church service and tell me .............whats the problem?  Getting together to discuss and celebrate  what most people now days dont believe anyway .........kinda like politicians just doing the right thing.  

Charles Thomas
Charles Thomas

Not paying attention?  He IS making money.  Go to his website.  He's a con artist.

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