Tag Archives: First Amendment freedom of religion

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?

What do you think?

Why Ann Curry should think twice about attacking Kirk Cameron again

For those of you that haven’t read my bio here, and wandered off to my personal site (shame on you!), I must offer the following disclaimer. I am an atheist, so therefore, I have no vested interest in promoting any faith of any kind. Conversely, I don’t bother to say anything against religions, unless their followers start doing silly things, like attempting to have their rights respected over anyone else’s. After all, I fit in that “anyone else” category.

Kirk Cameron

Gage Skidmore (CC)

So, it should go without saying that I don’t agree with Kirk Cameron on just about anything when it comes to religion. Hell, I don’t agree with him when it comes to social issues either, but that’s because I have this little problem with government sticking its nose into people’s personal lives. However, I must give this man credit for how he handled Ann Curry! I’ve seen my share of public figures from the world of social conservatives that couldn’t have managed to keep their cool under that pressure. They would have flown into yet another tirade about their faith, that would have left Curry with a new pile of “objectionable comments” for ammunition. I mean seriously, how can she come back firing on a man that calmly sits there and tells her that he loves everyone? Brilliant!

One thing I would love to see is Cameron answer a couple questions for me. I understand that he believes that being gay is wrong, and that gay marriage is detrimental to society. That’s fine. However, does he also believe that members of say the United Church of Christ, or the Unitarian Universalist Church do not have a right to observe their religions freely in this country? It is an honest question, since last I checked, both of these institutions recognize gay marriage. See, I think I might have the advantage here as the atheist, because I didn’t arrive where I am as far as faith and religions are concerned without taking the time to try to find something to believe in. Obviously, I failed in that task, but I did learn quite a bit about many religious sects in my travels. My point is that every time I hear Christian right-wing people preaching about the sins of alternative sexuality, I cringe. While they might think they are speaking for all Christians, they actually aren’t. Or even if they do recognize that there are other varieties of Christianity out there, they don’t seem to take them seriously enough to stand up and defend their right to observe their religion.

Well, that’s more than enough preaching in one day for this atheist! I’ll just say this: Ann Curry, if you ever decide to interview Kirk Cameron again, please don’t bother asking him about any hot-button issues, or suggest that he is a hateful man. You simply don’t have the chops to face him in a one-on-one interview without making a fool of yourself.