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AZ Pastor Jailed for Holding Church Services in Backyard

After losing several appeals a Phoenix pastor has begun his 60 day jail sentence for holding church services on his property. Harvest Christian Fellowship Pastor Michael Salman claims his first amendment rights have been violated by the city. The city, on the other hand, says the property is not zoned for a church and that the pastor did not get required permits for his building.

This is not a cut and dried case and there appears to be some finagling on both sides. For more information visit Phoenix New Times, Fox News Insideror the ABC 15 News.

In many neighborhoods friends regularly gather and hold Bible Studies. Generally they have fewer than 20 in attendance. However, these get-togethers are held inside their homes, not in an outside building on the property. Pastor Salmon has a large fenced yard which allows his ‘Bible Study’ attendees to park off the street and out of sight for the neighbors while they meet in his ‘garage’. But, at what point does a Bible Study become a Church Service? Can one’s constitutional right to worship be impinged on by city zoning ordinances?

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