Catholic World News

Phoenix man jailed for building code violations after using home for worship

July 24, 2012

A Phoenix man who used his home for Bible study and worship has been jailed for 60 days and fined $12,000 for building code violations.

“Mr. [Michael] Salman had regular gatherings of up to 80 people,” according to a statement issued by the City of Phoenix. “A house of worship is allowed in any zoning district in the City of Phoenix; the case is about the building that is used for regular assembly does not meet construction and fire code requirements for assembly.”

The Rutherford Institute, which is defending Salman, stated that

in coming to the defense of Michael Salman, Rutherford Institute attorneys are challenging the legality of Salman’s imprisonment as a violation of his First Amendment right to religious freedom and assembly, in addition to challenging the City’s assertion that if a person holds Bible studies or other forms of religious worship at his residence, he is required to comply with all local laws relating to an actual church that is open to the public …

The City of Phoenix has inappropriately subjected the Salman family to the zoning and building requirements that are meant only to apply to public or commercial buildings, even though the Bible studies were intended only for family and friends.

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  • Posted by: sarsok8679 - Jul. 25, 2012 11:48 AM ET USA

    I guess it was a good thing that those who were worshiping at the garbage dump at Lourdes did not have the Phoenix bureaucrat-nazis to deal with.. oops they did. "Where ever there are 2 or more gathered in my name I am there too..just not in Phoenix where I would be breaking code violations."

  • Posted by: happyseaotter8027 - Jul. 24, 2012 11:57 PM ET USA

    If Mr. Salman is using a room on his property for church purposes, that room must comply with the city code. I don't think this is any sort of attack on Mr. Salman's religious freedoms; it is a safety issue. If the city is aware of code violations and does not take action to have those violations corrected, it places itself in the precarious position of possibly being sued. I believe the City of Phoenix acted properly.

  • Posted by: rpp - Jul. 24, 2012 3:13 PM ET USA

    Funny, the stories that I have read in the past have the defendant saying that 15 to 20 people regularly attended, not 80. Still, this is about religious hatred, not about spurious "building codes", many of which were passed specifically to persecute this man.