Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Zoned Out Christians

Today, Michael Salman sits in jail following a raid on his home because the city doesn't allow people to hold private Bible studies on their own property! Fox News quoted Phoenix City Prosecutor Vicki Hall as saying, "It came down to zoning and proper permitting. Anytime you are holding a gathering of people continuously as he does, we have concerns about people being able to exit the facility properly in case there is a fire."

Well, I for one am much relieved. Don’t we all feel safer just knowing that Michael Salman is off the mean streets of Phoenix, if only for a couple of months? The last thing this country needs is zoned out Christians—rebels like Salman swimming against the stream—terrorizing neighborhoods with their permit-less Bible studies.

And isn’t it about time that city prosecutors like Vicki Hall put the interests of the people first? Finally, somebody stood up for the little guy! Finally, somebody said to the criminal and the lawless, “You will go no farther! You WILL stay in the zone.”

When Salman endangered the public by maliciously exposing them to all sorts of possible fire hazards, Ms. Hall effectively stamped out this phantom inferno by putting this miscreant where he belongs—not with his wife and children, but behind bars. (And NO, being locked in a steel cage poses no danger in case of fire.)

Speaking of danger, frankly, I don’t know how folks fled fires before permits and zoning laws. And we all know how strongly the government feels about conflagrations and careless Bible teachers with their homicidal flames—remember Waco? Thankfully, there’ll be no smoking Christians due to the likes of this reckless Salman—not in Phoenix!

I had a rather lengthy discussion with some Facebook friends regarding this Salman fiasco. You see, I think the zoning law in question is unconstitutional and selectively enforced. In fact, I believe the zoning law was used as a pretext to shut down the Bible study. Apparently, we not only have a separation of church and state; we now must ensure the separation of church and home.

Accordingly, the nanny-police state raids this peaceful man’s abode, puts him in jail, and demands over 12,000 dollars from him. Why? How is this just? How are such acts moral?

The following is an excerpt from my discussion. My interlocutors’ words appear bold and italicized.


"I understand what you are saying Steve, and the City does stipulate what it considers something that should be regulated. Not to oppress religious activities, but to protect the persons gathering. Can you imagine the tragedy if there was a fire, and people were hurt or died as a result, and the City was aware of what was going on. You have to look at both sides and deal with it accordingly."
I am not at all compelled to give up personal liberty for perceived security. I do not want the government telling me who, when, and how many I can have in my private home, on my private property--under the guise of what's in my best interest.

I do not require the nanny-police state to direct or regulate my life.

"You can't put a 2000 sq. ft. church in your backyard in addition to your own home and say it's just an "additional space for us to worship" and then expect there to not be any consequences. And oh, it's just family and friends. It's not open to the public. Isn't that what the church is about? Reaching out to the community? This guy is not all he's cracked up to be."

This isn't simply about "this guy." This is about the government ignoring the constitution and assuming the authority to tell folks who and how many they can have on their own PRIVATE property. This is about government shutting down a Bible study under the pretext of an unconstitutional and selectively applied zoning law. (And why can’t a person put a 2000 sq. ft. church in his own backyard? Is such an action immoral?)

Zoning laws, eminent domain, and property taxes: private ownership of property is becoming a myth. The government now tells us what we can and cannot do on "our" property, decides if we can remain on "our" property, and charges us large sums of money for having "our" property.

Does anyone see a problem here? Anyone, anyone?

"We have to live by their rules until we are freed from our own little Babylon . . . ."

I think such a general statement must always be understood in light of the following caveat: We must obey government unless or until it commands what God forbids or forbids what God commands.

In other words, we must obey God rather than man (Acts 4:19). And, presently, when Christians disobey man, so that they may obey God, they sometimes suffer greatly. (This has been true for those who would live godly from Genesis until now.)

“Mr. Salman could have taken the money he used to build that "recreation hall" and leased a place in an impoverished area of Phoenix to have Bible study and help the inner community. Sorry, but I truly don’t see as what he did was right, and he is having to deal with the fruit of it.”

Yes, one would think that Mr. Salman "could have" used his money any way he saw fit. In fact, he did use his money and his property as he saw fit. And now he's in jail.

But is it the government's proper function to regulate how we use our own money and private property? Do we really need such a nanny-police state?

I have a wonderful neighbor (couldn't ask for better) who has a HUGE shed in his back yard. From time-to-time he enjoys entertaining guests with music, food, and drinks. I've seen--on rare occasions--over 50 folks there.

He's not hurting anyone. Should the government inspect his building? Should the government place a limit on how many of his friends he can host? Should my friend be required to get a "permit" for his watering hole?

How in the world did our forebears construct various places of habitation--sans permits--and live to tell about it? It's a wonder we're even here.


  1. "Does anyone see a problem here? Anyone, anyone?"

    Silence except for the crickets in the distance.

    Apparently many feel Mr. Salman was unlawfully choosing to exercise his rights under our Constitution. Free assembly, religious freedom, and all that.

    Does anyone doubt the reaction if there were a bunch of Muslims gathering for prayer and Koran-study? (Assuming any of them can read Arabic.) Why, nothing wrong with that, oh, no. Nothing at all. The county might provide patrol cars to help with the traffic. Double standard? Of course.

    I'm saddened to find this happened not in Iraq or some far outpost in Africa, but here in our country. I wonder if they would have been able to get Sheriff Joe Arpaio to go break up this "illegal" gathering? I suspect not. He'd insist on enforcing real laws and tracking down real criminals.

    Well, let this be a chilling reminder that things are not all sweetness and light in America. All we Christian-types are on a short leash, and this should serve as a warning. All this gathering and praying has limits. And you'd better not be found promoting hate speech, like saying that sodomites are not going to get into heaven. We've about had it with all this gay-bashing, and we'll use any paper-thin pretext possible to ensure "fairness."

    I'm not one to try to over-legislate morality - that has to come from the heart. But simple freedom of assembly is something worth fighting for.

    I suspect this will be a crown of glory for Mr. Salman some day. In this life, it's another link in our chain of government control and oppression. Where do I go to get my America back?

    1. Thank you for reading, Rick and I couldn't agree with you more.