Pastor Michael Salman is currently serving a 60-day jail sentence after being found guilty of 67 misdemeanors for reportedly building a church in his backyard. Salman was told twice not to build the church because it violated building codes, but did so anyway.
Salman's church was found to have 96 civil code violations, most of them related to being a fire hazard, reported the Phoenix New Times.
A city official told the Phoenix New Times: ""Mr. Salman had regular gatherings of up to 80 people. He held services twice a week and collected a tithe at the services. The building that he held services in had a dais and chairs were aligned in a pew formation. He held himself out as a being a church through the media [Harvest Christian Church] and claimed a church status for tax exemption purposes on his property."
Besides the church building code violations, Salman has more on his rap sheet including almost six years in prison for a drive-by shooting, possession of LSD while in jail and impersonating a police officer, reports the Phoenix New TImes.
Salman claims that he is being persecuted for hosting Bible studies on his home, which the City of Phoenix denies.
Salman has found defense from Wallbuilders' David Barton who recently said on his radio show: "There needs to be some changes in Phoenix and people really do need to let city hall hear it over this. And I'm really concerned about cops who are willing to go in as a SWAT team to arrest a pastor who's had Bible study."
"The cops should have said "no, we're not doing that. I mean, we take an oath to uphold the Constitution too; there's the right of assembly, the right of speech, the right of religion. We're not going to go arrest this guy with AR-15s and a SWAT team." At some point, citizens are going to have to say we're not going to be part of this and that should have happened at this point."
Additionally, the American Family Association's Bryan Fisher recently supported Salman on his radio show.