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Published On: Mon, Jul 16th, 2012

Michael Salman, Arizona pastor arrested, dishonest about nature of church building

Last week Michael Salman was sentenced to 60 days in jail, fined $12,180 and given three years probation after holding private prayer meetings in his home. With that statement, many might picture a group of people sitting around in a living room, studying the bible.

Screenshot of Michael Salman preaching at church

However, in the case of Michael Salman and his wife Suzanne, the bible group met in an outside building on the Salman’s property, which sounds more like a church than a casual prayer meeting.

The bible studies were regular meetings of up to 80 people, twice a week and an offering was collected. They also had ample parking on their property so as not to disrupt their neighborhood.

Michael Salman, who introduces himself as the pastor from the “Harvest Christian Church” has claimed church status for tax exemption purposes on his property.

From 2007 until 2012, the city cited Salman numerous times for not obtaining the proper permits for the building and building code violations (up to 96 civil code violations) primarily related to fire safety standards.

“The State is not saying the Salmans can’t run a church or have worship services at the location, but the State is saying that if they do so, they must do it properly and in accord with the building, fire, and zoning codes,” says city officials.

The Salmans are saying that the building is not a church and they have a right to hold prayer meetings in their home, just like people who have birthday parties or other “get togethers,” but the city notes that casual prayer meetings don’t have a dais or pews.

In 2007, Salman applied for a permit to build a detached garage and in 2008, Salman’s church, Harvest Christian Fellowship Community Church, was issued a building permit to construct a 2,000 square foot private game room to their existing house, which was where the prayer meetings were held.

From 2007 until 2012, the city cited Salman numerous times for not obtaining the proper permits for the building and building code violations (up to 96 civil code violations) primarily related to fire safety standards.

“The State is not saying the Salmans can’t run a church or have worship services at the location, but the State is saying that if they do so, they must do it properly and in accord with the building, fire, and zoning codes,” says city officials.

The Salmans are saying that the building is not a church and they have a right to hold prayer meetings in their home, just like people who have birthday parties or other get togethers.

FOX Coverage features a look inside the building:

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  1. Maggie M. says:

    Interesting that he calls it a church for the purpose of tax exemption, but then he says it’s not a church for the purpose of the zoning codes and building permits. He can’t have it both ways. If he’s calling it a church and taking tax exempt status for it, he is subject to all the rules and regulations for churches, including zoning, fire permits, etc. If it is a private property, he is not subject to the same laws, but nor will he get tax benefits. There are pros and cons to either scenario, but he can’t call it a church and then say it’s not a church when it’s convenient.

    • dwc says:

      This is a prime example of why I hate the statist society we have become. The state can take all their precious civic codes and shove it.

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