How to Fake a War on Christianity Featuring Pastor Michael Salman
DID YOU KNOW THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS CRACKING DOWN ON CHRISTIAN PRAYER?!?
Oh… you didn’t know that? That’s probably because it’s not a real thing. Christianity is safe in the U.S.A. Ain’t nobody gonna kick Jesus out anytime soon.
In fact, Christianity is so safe in this country that it thinks “persecution” means “not getting to do every fucking thing you want all the time ever forever”. Christianity is the rich kid at America High and their version of persecution is getting a different car than the one they wanted for their 16th birthday. Waaaaahhh.
That’s kind of harsh. I really don’t have a mad on for Christianity. What I hate is when some Christians in this country try to create a martyrdom where is none. They think a loss in privilege means a loss in freedom so they lash out at any and all perceived threats. Then they spin the story to make them seem like the put upon victim. I found a perfect example yesterday in this story on foxnews.com’s front page -
What? No way!. I read the story thinking that maybe the headline was just meant to shock you into reading but once you got to the story it’d be a lot tamer but it wasn’t! Here’s the story -
Michael Salman is this god fearin’ dude that loved to get together with his pals and read some bible in his living room every week. Pretty soon some more friends wanted in on the bible study and after a while over a dozen people were doing this and his living room was getting a little cramped. He built himself a little secondary building where he and his bible buddies could get their pray on but the city government slapped him with a citation, saying if over a dozen people are gonna pray in a building it needs to be classified as a church (or a public school if you’re Texas). Michael Salman tried to explain that they weren’t a church, he wasn’t collecting money, they were just praying in his backyard shed. The city told him to stop but you can’t stop a good Christian from reading the bible with a dozen or more friends so now he’s serving 60 days in jail! Jail! For reading the bible!
This can’t be right. I googled “Michael Salman” to see if I could get a side of the story that isn’t so “Fox Fair and Balanced” but it seemed that the only news sites other than Fox that were reporting it were even more conservative than Fox. The Blaze, The Examiner and The Christian Post all told the same story, each posting the same picture of Pastor Salman surrounded by his loving family -
their respective comments sections filled to the brim with all caps declarations on how religious freedom in this country is eroding and how Muslims are probably responsible.
Funny thing about that story is that it’s like at least %50 bullshit.
Turns out the Alt Weekly for Phoenix has been doing stories on this guy since day 1 (check them out here!). Here’s the abridged version -
* Michael Salman moves to this nice, quiet neighborhood where the houses have big back yards. He’s a man who likes him some God. He’s a minister for Harvest Christian Fellowship and holds small services in his living room when not preaching on youtube about how you shouldn’t be nice to people who hold different beliefs than you -
He wants to build a big ol’ church with a basketball court and daycare center and a giant inflatable Jesus floating around (okay I made that last one up) in his backyard.
* Salman’s neighbors ain’t exactly pleased with sharing a back yard with a mega church since that’ll send the property values plummeting and turn their quiet little neighborhood into a loud, congested mess.
* Neighbors fight Salman and win. He can’t build a church in his back yard. Salman withdraws his church plans and then submits plans to the city planner to build a “game room” in his backyard. The city planner, recognizing him from five minutes ago, asks if he’s going to use this game room as a Church. Michael Salman says he will not use the room as a public church. This is a lie.
* Neighbors tip off the cops that Salman might be having church in his “game room”. Salman says it’s merely a bible study and not a church. In his game room are 140 seats, a podium and a portrait of the last supper. You know, like a church. There’s a six foot white cross on his front lawn next to a four by eight foot sign for announcements. You know, like you’d see in front of a church. 50 or more people (numbers vary depending on who you ask) gather there every Sunday to hear Michael Salman, who they call “pastor”, talk about the bible for 1-2 hours. You know, like a church.
* Cops and city inspectors remind him that they said he can’t have a church there. They also point out that his game room is horribly unsafe and there’s a reason commercial zoning is different than residential. See, if you plan on having over 50 people in a place on a weekly basis, you need to make sure that there’s fire sprinklers, properly marked exits, handicap access and permanent wiring as opposed to just a bunch of extension cords (just a few of the dozens of code violations).
* Salman gets warnings, tickets and numerous letters from the city stating he can’t have a church in his back yard. Rather than trying to reach a compromise with neighbors (all who hate him now. His next door neighbor successfully filed a restraining order against him) or complying with the city, he just keeps on Churching and ignoring everybody. Eventually the citations pile up and now he has to go to jail.
So there you go. Michael Salman didn’t go to jail for hosting a home bible study. Despite what Fox, Glenn Beck, The Examiner etc. would have you believe, nobody’s going to jail for having a few friends over to read the bible. Michael Salman went to jail for having a church in his backyard, lying about it, pissing off his neighbors, putting his parishioners in danger by gathering in an unsafe building and ignoring multiple warnings from the city. He’s not a martyr or an example of the erosion of religious freedoms. He’s a stubborn man who thinks religious freedom means immunity from everything.
So shut up, Christians. You’re fine. Nobody’s persecuting you so wipe the tears from your eyes and go back to trying to run everything.