Religion News Briefs: Pastor not jailed for holding Bible studies in his home

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Heard about Michael Salman, the Phoenix pastor alledgely who was jailed for holding Bible study meetings in his own home? The story has been played up by John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute as the harbinger to religious persecution in the USA.

Well, there’s another side to the story. According to a fact sheet published by the City of Phoenix, the Michael Salman court case is about building safety — not about the right to hold Bible study meetings in one’s own home.

Salman’s church, Harvest Christian Fellowship (also referred to as Harvest Christian Fellowship Community Church), holds meetings twice a week with up to 80 people attending. The church was found responsible for 96 civil code violations.

At one time he wanted to construct a 4,200-square-foot building in his backyard, to be used as a church. In the end, he received permission from the City of Phoenix for what he told the city was to be a ‘game room.’ He then started using this structure for his Bible study meetings — even though the permit explicitly states, “Any other occupancy or use (business, commercial, assembly, church, etc.) is expressly prohibited pursuant to the City of Phoenix Building Code and Zoning Ordinances.”

The church, registered as such for tax exemption purposes, was found responsible for 96 civil code violations. The Court specifically noted, “[T]he State is not saying the Salmans can’t run a church or have worship services at the location, but the State is saying that if they do so, they must do it properly and in accord with the building, fire, and zoning codes.”


On August 30, 2010, Salman was found guilty of 67 Class 1 Misdemeanors. He appealed but his convictions were upheld, and Salman was sentenced to serve time in jail.

Once there he promptly started a Bible Study, and — after one study was cancelled due to a lock-down situation — falsely claimed his right to hold Bible Studies in jail was violated.

(Incidentally, Christians should notice that Harvest Christian Fellowship’s stated beliefs regarding the Trinity are heretical.)

Telling fewer lies benefits people physically and mentally, according to one study. “We found that the participants could purposefully and dramatically reduce their everyday lies, and that in turn was associated with significantly improved health,” said Anita Kelly, study author and professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame, in a statement. Kelly presented her findings at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Orlando. The study was funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

Oh, and the authors of the study report that on average, Americans tell about 11 lies a week.

With that in mind, is it OK to lie if your co-worker’s outfit really does make her look fat?

The power of negative thinking. Oliver Burkeman, author of the forthcoming book “The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking,” says

Last month, in San Jose, Calif., 21 people were treated for burns after walking barefoot over hot coals as part of an event called Unleash the Power Within, starring the motivational speaker Tony Robbins. […] [T]here’s a simple secret to “firewalking”: coal is a poor conductor of heat to surrounding surfaces, including human flesh, so with quick, light steps, you’ll usually be fine. […]

Mr. Robbins reportedly encourages firewalkers to think of the hot coals as “cool moss.” Here’s a better idea: think of them as hot coals. And as a San Jose fire captain, himself a wise philosopher, told The Mercury News: “We discourage people from walking over hot coals.”

See Also: The perils of positive thinking

Russian prosecutors have brought up child abuse charges against members of a reclusive Muslim sect who have kept some 20 children in underground cells for over 10 years, the Associated Press reports. Authorities have filed charges against Faizrakhman Satarov, the sect’s 83-year-old founder, who has declared himself to be a prophet.

Tens of thousands celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe at Coliseum: Tens of thousands of believers filled the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday afternoon to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe — the long-revered symbol of the Catholic Church — in an hours-long event organizers called the “largest celebration of the Virgin Mary in a generation.”

A Catholic Priest from Michigan is in hot water after allegedly driving drunk and naked through Dearborn. The Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit says the Rev. Peter Petroske, 57, had been placed on administrative leave.

RNB’s Quick Links

Gunmen attack central Nigeria church preparing for Bible study, killing 19 and wounding others

Sikh Temple Shooting in Wisconsin: Wade Michael Page’s History With White Supremacist Movement (Video) + more on White Supremacists

Scientology’s Recruitment Film: The Version They Don’t Want You to See: because it’s and old version starring television and movie character actor Michael Fairman, who defected from the Scientology cult last year.

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This post was last updated: May. 13, 2014