Well, that’s what the headlines of the all the articles read. But then we all know how the press loves sensationalism.
Truthfully when I first read about this my reaction was that Salman has every right to have a bible study on his property, but I thought back to my time as a Christian and I attended many bible studies and no one ever went to jail over it. Furthermore out government is primary run by Christians, it seemed a bit unlikely that he was being “persecuted for his faith” as many were claiming.
I was sure that there had to be more to the story than this. In fact the man was not really running a bible study at all, but a church, or something very much like a church, with 30 to 40 attendees a week on his property. The courts ruled that his building was not up to codes. I can also imagine his neighbors were probably unhappy to have several dozen cars park on the street once a week. Further, the building permits he filed for his building was for a “game room” not a church building, so it seems he was trying to skirt those zoning laws and safety regulations.
I wish I could say this sort of thing is uncommon, but it seems I see it quite a bit. A Christian disobeys or ignores laws, justifying the disobedience in his own mind by believing he is doing God’s work in some way. Then when he gets caught and punished he cries religious persecution and claims his first amendment rights are being violated, when nothing of the kind has happened.