Like many others, I was outraged by the recent Fox News story bearing the headline “Man Facing Jail for Hosting Home Bible Study.” My outrage has morphed into a sickened terror as I read further about the heinous religious persecution that Michael Salmon and his wife Suzanne have endured. My recurring thought has been, “If it can happen to Michael, it can happen to me!” The only thing Michael and his wife are guilty of is hosting a Bible study in their home in Phoenix. Yet, they were recently fined over $12,000 and Michael just began serving a 60 day jail sentence. As they point out in one of their numerous YouTube videos, the only law they broke was having neighbors who disagreed with their practices.
It is time for America to rise up against this despicable act of discrimination and clear religious persecution. My heart has been warmed in recent days by the birth of numerous social media campaigns aimed at doing just that.
Unfortunately, some brainwashed simpletons within the liberal media elite are trying to suppress this story, claiming it isn’t about religious persecution at all. Luckily, the City of Phoenix has graciously provided all the damning evidence necessary to convict the city of waging an all-out war against religious liberty in general and Christianity in particular:
- In 2007, Michael requested a permit to build a detached garage. At that time the city began singling him out for religious persecution by citing him for building the garage before the permit was granted.
- Michael’s pernicious neighbors have testified that as early as 2007 Michael was openly talking about building a complex as large as 4,200 sq feet that would be used for Sunday and midweek services, have a workout complex, basketball court, and daycare center.
- The city took the preemptive measure of notifying him in advance that he needed to obtain permits to hold church services on his private property. Michael, however, courageously stepped out in faith and ignored all forms of communication from the evil empire of Maricopa County.
- In 2008, Michael’s Church, Harvest Christian Fellowship Community Church, was issued a permit for a 2,000 sq foot game room behind Michael’s house. The permit included the following confusing legalese: “Any other occupancy or use (business, commercial, assembly, church, etc.) is expressly prohibited pursuant to the City of Phoenix Building Code and Zoning Ordinances.”
- At the same time, Michael and his wife requested and were granted the a 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt organization status for their property. This has freed them from the troublesome requirement of paying taxes on their private property worth over $700,000.
- Michael (who also happens to be an ordained minister) and his family then began holding weekly services for up to 80 people in their illegally built, falsely termed ‘game room.’ Their game room (like all other game rooms) came equipped with a stage, podium, and rows of 145 folding chairs. The church marquis and cross in the front lawn were likely just for show. They held weekly services where they sang, listened to sermons, and collected a tithe to help pay for the cost of upkeep. Michael demonstrated his faithful stewardship by refusing to spend God’s money on empty frivolities such as lit emergency exits, sprinklers, or other basic fire-safety items. Despite Michael’s repeated use of the word ‘church’ to describe this structure to his friends and neighbors, he repeatedly denied that it was a church in public record.
- In 2010 Harvest Church was shockingly hit with over 96 civil code violations, apparently for ignoring virtually every civil code law ever written about holding public worship services. Michael was subsequently sentenced to 60 days of jail time.
- On July 9th, 2012 Salmon reported to jail to begin serving his sentence, thereby proving that ignoring the consistent government warnings for 4 years is tantamount to religious persecution.
This calls for action!! I understand, and possibly even condone, sitting idly by while 50 Christians in Nigeria are burned alive in their pastor’s home. It makes perfect sense when we ignore 17 killed in a church attack in Kenya, or the relatively mild 6 year sentence of an Iranian pastor. It’s not like those are examples of real persecution happening today to our real brothers and sisters in Christ across the world. No, we must focus our attention where it belongs–here, at home, where the true injustice is occurring.
After all, if it could happen to Michael Salmon, it could happen to you.
And God bless Michael Salmon.