Tuesday, July 10, 2012

News comparison: Man arrested for hosting Bible studies? (No)

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See if you can spot the difference between these two back-to-back media reports about a man who was busted for continually and obstinately violating dozens of city ordinances by hosting large weekly Bible study meet-ups in his home:

Transcript: (click the [+/-] to open/close →) []

[Report from 3TVNews/AZFamily.com:]

PATTI KIRKPATRICK: A Phoenix man is headed to jail for running a church on his residential property. But the homeowner insists his worship services are private. Marie Saavedra is outside that home in Phoenix with details. Marie?

MARIE SAAVEDRA: Right, Patti. The man who lives here says this is his private property, so the decision about how and where he worships on his property should also be private. But after losing several court battles on this issue, his next step in this fight is likely jail.

[Video of Michael & Suzanne Salman on YouTube]

MICHAEL SALMAN: Hello, my name is Michael Salman.

SUZANNE SALMAN: And I’m Suzanne Salman.

MICHAEL SALMAN: And if you are watching this video, I’m either already in jail or going to jail.

SAAVEDRA [V.O.]: Michael Salman says he is a man prosecuted because of where he chooses to worship. But the city says he’s a man falsely representing buildings on his property, running them like churches without the proper permits. Inside this back building is a pulpit and chairs, room for the 30-40 who gather here weekly. But he says this is no public church.

MICHAEL SALMAN: If people can gather for a Superbowl party, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Poker night every week, we have the right to gather here every week.

SAAVEDRA [V.O.]: The city and neighbors disagree. Inspectors say for what he was doing, he needed dozens of building and safety updates. All Salman says he was doing was practicing freedom of religion. The court disagreed.

MICHAEL SALMAN: I was found guilty for violating 67 violations.

SAAVEDRA [V.O.]: Salman appealed and lost. His sentence is 60 days in jail and three years’ probation, which he’s due to start serving anyday. He still maintains his worship space is private and it should be treated that way.

MICHAEL SALMAN: They’re a man out of society and sticking him in jail for worshiping at his home.

SAAVEDRA: Late this afternoon, we heard back from the prosecutor’s office, who tell me the way they see it, this is not a religious freedom issue. What this comes down to is this man’s refusal to comply with some issues that they say are – they have to comply with the law. We’re talking about building codes, safety features; all necessary for him to be doing what they say he is doing on this property. […]

[Report from CBN News:]

CBN ANCHORMAN: Hosting a Bible study landed an Arizona man behind bars. Michael Salman is sentenced to two months in jail, three years’ probation and more than $12,000 in fines, all for using his private home to host weekly Bible studies. The Phoenix City prosecutor’s office says hosting a gathering of people continuously violates city building codes. But the Salmans say the city is attacking their religious freedom.

SUZANNE SALMAN: We wanna stand for not only our beliefs, but for every believer in Phoenix that want to host a Bible study in their home. That they can do it without fear of the city coming in and saying, ‘No, this is no longer just your home, this needs to become a church.’

CBN ANCHORMAN: Wow, what is happening to our country? Salman says hosting weekly Bible studies is the same as anyone else hosting weekly Poker games, but Arizona courts consistently ruled against him. They declared he was running a church out of a private dwelling, and so the city did not violate his constitutional rights to religious [freedom].

Yeah, you’re not being blatant at all, CBN.

(via On Knees for Jesus)