A Phoenix homeowner who held weekly Bible studies in his backyard must serve jail time for failing to comply with building, zoning, fire, and safety codes applicable to churches, ruled a federal district court in Arizona last week.
In 2008, the City of Phoenix ordered Michael Salman to comply with code requirements for a church after neighbors complained about his weekly Bible studies, which often drew 50 people to a gazebo in his backyard. Salman refused, claiming the order violated his free exercise rights, and was sentenced to 60 days in jail, fined $12,000, and given three year's probation–during which he could not host more than 12 people in his home, reports Religion Clause.
On Friday, the federal district court dismissed Salman's attempt to halt this judgment because a lower federal court had already heard his complaint and dismissed it for failing to first exhaust legal options at the state level.
This is not the first time home Bible studies have been cited or barred in the recent ...1