A Phoenix-area pastor is in jail after his home was raided because he was violating an occupancy law by conducting private Bible studies in his home, the Examiner reported.
Pastor Michael Salmon, an ordained minister who lives with his family in the Phoenix area, has led a Bible-study gathering of 15-20 people at his 4.5 acre property since 2005.
Police raided his home on July 6. In 2007, Salmon received a notice from the City of Phoenix that Bible studies are not permitted in a residence unless the property is converted to an A3 occupancy, which allows commercial and public use, according to the Examiner.
"It came down to zoning and proper permitting. Anytime you are holding a gathering of people continuously as he does, we have concerns about people being able to exit the facility properly in case there is a fire," Phoenix City Prosecutor Vicki Hall said, according to the Examiner.
Salmon took some steps to meet the requirements, but did not want to become a commercial entity, calling the code unconstitutional. Now he is serving 60 days in jail for "creating an unsafe building environment," the Examiner reported. The pastor has also received a $12,180 fine for his crime and could receive probation.
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