Michael Salman: Committing Crimes, or Victim of Religious Persecution?
It looks like people are still buying the religious-persecution story from pastor Michael Salman, who's currently serving jail time for not following laws again.
Lawyers for the ex-gang member and convicted felon -- who's currently serving a 60-day jail sentence after being found guilty of 67 misdemeanors -- recently revealed Salman's facing even more jail time, since he just couldn't comply with the terms of his probation.
Salman's been passing off a story on the public about being sentenced to jail for hosting Bible studies on his home, which the City of Phoenix heavily denies.
NBA Preseason Basketball: Phoenix Suns v. San Antonio Spurs
TicketsMon., Oct. 3, 7:00pm
NBA Preseason Basketball: Phoenix Suns v. Utah Jazz
TicketsWed., Oct. 5, 7:00pm
Arizona Coyotes vs. San Jose Sharks
TicketsFri., Oct. 7, 7:00pm
TicketsSat., Oct. 8, 7:00pm
This started when Salman told the City of Phoenix twice that he wasn't building a church in his backyard, then went ahead and built a church in his backyard.
Salman was found responsible for 96 civil code violations in the building of his church, most of them related to how much of a fire hazard the building was.
Salman and his supporters continue to tell a tale about how he's being persecuted for his religion -- so much so that the city has actually put out a fact sheet explaining Salman's disregard for city ordinances, his decision to ignore the repeated warnings from the city, and how this whole mess has absolutely nothing to do with Salman's religion.
Salman told the city in 2007 that he was building a garage in his backyard. He did not build a garage in his backyard.
"Mr. Salman had regular gatherings of up to 80 people," the city says. "He held services twice a week and collected a tithe at the services. The building that he held services in had a dais and chairs were aligned in a pew formation. He held himself out as a being a church through the media (Harvest Christian Church) and claimed a church status for tax exemption purposes on his property."
Then Salman got a permit to have a "game room" in his backyard -- one that said "[a]ny other occupancy or use (business, commercial, assembly, church, etc.) is expressly prohibited."
Whether he actually planned to get an air hockey table or something doesn't really matter, since he never did, and continued to use the death-trap building as a church.
As for Salman's other incidents with police -- including serving nearly six years in prison for a drive-by shooting, getting caught with LSD while in the slammer, and once being booked into jail for impersonating a police officer -- he doesn't chalk those up to religious persecution.
For Salman's newer convictions, related to the backyard church, he maintains he's the victim.
Are you buyin' that?
Cast your vote below:
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.