By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
So last Thursday, no fewer than seven officers showed up at the Salman home, escorting a group of zoning officers with an administrative warrant. While the Salmans have yet to be cited for a crime, the cops did leave behind a "notice of code violation." It reiterates that the outbuilding may be used only for residential use.
Indeed, for all the protestations that they aren't hosting church services, the Salmans are, at best, walking an incredibly fine line. Unlike most small, home-based fellowships, they've got all the trappings of a church. A sign on their gate announces "Harvest Christian Community Church." Advertisements for the fellowship's Web site, www.hcfaz.org, pepper the family's two vans. And, of course, Salman goes by "Pastor."
The main difference between their group and any other start-up church is the Salmans' insistence that they chose to be "private."
Does that matter? Should it? Really, what can the city do? Bad enough that they sent a half-dozen officers last week to do the work of city bureaucrats. Shut down a religious service, and they will have triggered all sorts of constitutional issues.
The Salmans aren't stupid. They realize this. So despite the officers' arrival on Thursday, on Sunday, the Salmans invited some friends and family into their "game room."
They didn't play poker or pool or Pictionary. Instead, they worshipped God, exactly as they'd planned.
The police were nowhere in sight. Not this Sunday, anyway.
Next Sunday is anyone's guess.