Government has Three-Stage Plan to Eradicate House Churches
That is the headline in one of today’s news stories. Would it surprise you that it came out of China? Probably not.
What about this headline?
Pastor Arrested for Home Bible Study
Well, that last one is not from China. It’s from Arizona.
Yep… right here in North America.
Michael Salman’s Bible Study
The internet is all abuzz with this story. I’ve done a little research and here’s the brief summary:
Salmon lives in an upscale neighborhood on more than 4 acres of property.
In 2005 he and his wife started Bible Studies in their home. Neighbors complained that he was running a church and using his property for commercial purposes.
On Good Friday a few years ago the Fire Department stormed his yard where there were about 20 people enjoying a barbecue in his backyard, kicking people off his property.
He was charged with not having a permit to have a Bible Study in his house.
Then he was told that his house did not meet code as a public building and therefore could not host these Bible Studies.
So Salmon built a 4000 sq.ft. building with legal permits. It met building code for the kind of building it was: a Recreational Room to be used for Games and Social Gatherings.
As soon as the building was up Phoenix city officials were on his case and came to shut him down again. One of the complaints is that when Salman has meetings there it causes a disturbance in the neighborhood. (Check out this video and see what you think about that.)
A Full TEAM of police officers stormed his private home with a search warrant (although the Salman’s have never been told what anyone is searching for) and treated him and his wife and their kids and a guest rudely, not even allowing them to speak to one another. About the same time they were stormed by approximately TEN city inspectors who converged on his property scouring over every square inch… looking for what?
And all this because he leads a Bible Study in his home!!! (Watch the raid on video here.)
ALL of Salmon’s friends park on his property, behind a gate and then behind the buildings. None of his guests park on the street. Obviously the parking isn’t disturbing anyone.
Salmon was charged with 67 counts of violation of building code. BUT… let me explain. He has met EVERY single piece of building code for the building he built – a private, non-public use building on his personal property. The codes that he did NOT meet are commercial building codes. BUT HIS BUILDING IS NOT A COMMERCIAL BUILDING.
The city is insisting that his building is a public building because people meet there for Bible Study.
Since when does a home Bible Study necessitate a public building? And so Salmon has not renovated the building to meet the commercial code.
He has told his story here.
So what kinds of things are needed to bring this building up to commercial code? Things like a handicapped parking space, well lit exit signs, etc.
Tell me. If you are a Christian, do you have a handicapped parking space on your property? Not likely unless you know someone personally… and even then, it’s likely not a designated spot with all the government markings!
So Salman is in jail. For SIXTY DAYS. But that’s not all. He’s also been fined $12,180.
Now I want you to understand something here: There are parties all over that neighborhood where people park on both sides of the street. There are sports parties, Tupperware parties, family gatherings, you name it… and NONE of them have to have their private homes turned into commercial buildings in order to have people there. But Salmon and his wife are required to because it is a Bible Study.
And he is paying the price. But he’s not paying this price just for himself. He is doing this to help you and I fight for our rights!
If Salmon simply does his time and the city and state get away with this… guess who the next target might be? Every other home Bible Study in the country. Maybe not next week, but very easily next year.
Some have argued that because Salman has a criminal history, he is not to be trusted.
Christian friend, I ask you, who is more aware of the necessity of the freedom of Christianity and the ability to worship and spread the gospel than one who was once lost but has gained not only a new life but life eternal? This man recognizes how great a debt was forgiven him, and he is willing to stand up so that others might experience that same gift.
What Will You Do?
Will you stand by on this one? Will you write letters? Will you pray for the Salman family? (He has a wife and 6 kids.)
But even more… what will you do when it’s your turn? What will you do when the city or state tells you you can’t have a Bible Study in your home? Will you obey – or will you fight?
Did you ever think this would happen in your country?