Pastor is trying to circumvent laws: While the city was too aggressive in their approach, I completely disagree that it should have no say over this. I certainly would not want my next-door neighbor building a big structure in his backyard — with the sole purpose of it being for worship — and then putting up a sign proclaiming that it's the site of a church.

That's what the zoning laws are for — laws that Mr. Salman is trying to circumvent.

It makes no difference whether Mr. Salman thinks his purpose is good and righteous. It makes no difference whether I, or anyone else not living in that neighborhood, think Mr. Salman's purpose is good and righteous. The people in that neighborhood bought and maintain homes, thinking that the people around them are also buying and maintaining homes. That's the way [the land] was zoned and the way it was intended to be occupied.

I've got no problem with people getting together in the privacy of their homes and exercising their constitutional right to freedom of religion. But, also constitutionally, we have given the government the right to set up zoning laws to protect the expectations of property owners.

Mr. Salman is obviously trying to end-run those laws while proclaiming he's the victim of government infringement of his rights. You can't have it both ways. You can't ignore the laws that are inconvenient to you, then jump and down and point to some other law in your favor.

And I wonder how all those people jumping up and down crying "police state" would feel if this weren't a Christian church. What if Mr. Salman had posted a sign for Satan-worshipping or for KKK meetings in his nice, new, little building?

John Schneider, Peoria

A pagan's perspective: As an elder in the pagan community and former president of a pagan non-profit, I find the actions of neighbors and local government especially troubling.

Most pagan rites and rituals are conducted outdoors — in natural settings such as parks and, yes, residential backyards. When conducted in a residential area, most neighbors seem very accepting of the occasional gathering. I say occasional because pagans generally meet monthly in accordance with the phase of the moon, rather than weekly.

In my last home, I established a temple room devoted to spiritual practice and where others were welcome to participate in rites and rituals, when the weather warranted.

It seems to me that the local authorities have more important matters to occupy their time. While I suspect that a neighbor has badgered civic leaders for relief, there is little the city can do. With or without the structure in their backyard, Pastor Salman and his guests are constitutionally fairly well protected with regard to worship.

Any attempt to interfere legally will result in the ACLU, or others, defending Pastor Salman and his guests' activities and end in a costly and wasteful defeat for the city.

To the neighbors of Pastor Salman, I say, "Count your blessings" that we still live in a nation that protects the right to freely practice one's religion. And if Pastor Salman seems suspect, imagine having a pagan like myself for a neighbor — fragrant incense, soft bells, murmured chanting, all under cover of darkness or a full moon.
Alexander, Seventh Pillar of Sophia, Gilbert

The police were wrong in this matter: I feel the issue of the police going into this home — not looking for drugs but only because a church service was going on in the backyard — is a violation of this family's rights and should not be allowed to go on. The police telling them what they can and cannot do is wrong.

Timothy Nevins, Surprise

Church owners are hypocrites: The Salmans may not be stupid, but in my opinion, they do seem like hypocrites, if not liars.

How can they dare preach the tenets of Christianity, yet "bear false witness" to enable the construction of the building their private services are held in?

In the article, Mr. Salman claims, "We don't advertise anywhere." Later in the article, statements are made about a sign on their gate for the worship service, as well as that "advertisements for the fellowship's Web site,, pepper the family's two vans."

Truth abounds from this pastor!

I also tend to wonder if the neighbors are being hypocritical, as well? Why do they want this church gone so badly? If the outbuilding can't be seen from the street, why does it bother anyone? Do these people who live near Mr. Salman go to church? Why is it okay for them to worship (or not) their way, but not okay for Mr. Salman to worship his way?

Would they prefer for the city to be able to tell them how to meet?

Furthermore, why did [the Salmans] claim it was for a "personal game room"? Had they claimed it was for a "personal meeting area," their neighbors (and, consequently, the city) likely wouldn't have been able to do anything.
Andrew L. Ayers, Glendale

This isn't really a free country: The Salmans were very, very cooperative in jumping through all the hoops to get the building built. I think it's a travesty they even had to do that.

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Brian, Your pre-review of the Clapton concert, not having heard the new Winwood "Nine Lives"? That is just classic. You would have been great working for the Bush Regime. "Don't confuse me with facts. I've got my mind made up!" I have not heard a new lick from Clapton in 25 fucking years. Jeff Beck has to gear down to play with Clapton. When Clapton was here with Billy Preston, their first encore was Preston's "Circles". For the first time that night the crowd went nuts and were on their feet. Clapton was sitting on a folded chair, playing, wondering what all the commotion was all about. Sorry to wake you, gramps. When Winwood was here for the "About Time" tour he was playing the bass on the pedals of his B-3 while singing and playing the keyboards. You need to get out more. Or learn a little more about substance and less about blind faith. People will be smoking pot. A lot of it! Are you still in high school? GOOD NEWS: You article was short. BAD NEWS: It was a piece of shit.


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