Matt Steen writes:
Perhaps you have heard the stories of the Pastor in Arizona who is being jailed for holding a bible study in his home. I typically try to avoid discussions on these kinds of things, but last week I was asked by my neighbor what I had thought about the situation. Our neighbors are Jewish, knowing my background, and what I do for a living, they were interested in my take on the whole situation. They were convinced that this was a terrible thing, and that it doesn’t bode well for religious freedom in United States. My neighbors are especially sensitive to hearing the word persecution linked to police raids, religion, and SWAT Teams as they remember the breaking news of the atrocities committed against those who share their faith.
I told my neighbors that I wasn’t exactly sure what the real story is… but I would see what I can find, and let them know what I think. As I started to poke around it would seem that the entire story hasn’t exactly come out. According to this article, it would seem that this is an issue that Michael Salman, and his neighbors, have been working through for over four years. The article discusses how Salman shared a plan with his neighbors for the church, and than wrote off their concerns about property values:
But then Salman announced that he was planning to build a church right there in his backyard. He talked about not just Sunday services, but weeknight Bible studies, a workout room and basketball court, even a Christian day care center.
When neighbors complained about how his project would affect their property values, Woods says, Salman was dismissive.
“He gave us a lecture on the fact that all of us were going to make money on our property, and if we were true Christians, we ought to be willing to sacrifice a little bit,” Woods recalls. “You can imagine, a few guys in the audience were all over him for that.
“That meeting is where the real animosity started. He made no effort at being conciliatory or cooperative. That really united the neighbors against him,” Woods says. “He was his own worst enemy.”
The more I have read of this story, the more it has left me shaking my head… it really is a train wreck. Even though Fox News and the church seem to be leveraging the shock value of Pastor persecuted for leading private bible study, the story just doesn’t seem to hold up. After being dishonest in the initial paperwork (calling the church a game room), consistently ignoring city ordinances, and dancing around the truth with creative wording (it’s not a public service), it would seem that things are beginning to fall apart.
Is this persecution?
What do you think?
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