Michael Salman Is Not in Jail for Having Bible Studies in His Home

UPDATE: Michael Salman has been charged with multiple felonies for allegedly defrauding the state's Medicaid program.

See also: Michael Salman wants to build a church in his backyard

Despite what's being said by Fox News and Christian news outlets about Phoenix pastor Michael Salman, he's not in jail for hosting bible studies at his place.

The former gang member is in jail for breaking the law -- again.

Salman told the City of Phoenix twice that he wasn't building a church in his backyard, then went ahead and built a church that was found responsible for 96 civil code violations, most of them related to how much of a fire hazard the building was.

There's been so much B.S. from Salman and his supporters about how he's being persecuted for his religion 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."

That's a church.

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."

Surprise -- no games were played. It was still a church.

By January 2010, the city found the church responsible for the 96 code violations, and in August 2010, he was found guilty of 67 misdemeanors -- to add to his rap sheet, next to his 1993 conviction for a drive-by shooting, and another time he was booked into jail for impersonating a police officer.

Salman's fought and fought his conviction -- still trying to claim his First Amendment right to practice his religion has been violated -- and believe it or not, his challenges never work.

Salman started his 60-day jail sentence on Monday.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley