Christians in the United Kingdom have freedom of religion and free speech. However, they are finding themselves under attack. A Christian legal organization in the United Kingdom reported a skirmish victory in the war against Christians and their churches – the demand that they essentially be silent in their worship.
The Christian Legal Centre in the United Kingdom reported a few months ago a “last-minute out of court settlement” that would allow a 600-member church in London to continue its worship. The Lambeth Council previously had issued a noise abatement notice to the All Nations Centre in Kensington which prevented the church from ringing church bells or using any amplification for its worship music and its pastor’s preaching.
The noise abatement order was issued without warning or discussion. The church had been in the same location for more than 45 years.
British attorney Onn Sein Kon said he has noticed an increasing number of attacks on churches because someone can hear the worship.
“What is really going on here is action by secularists to try and restrict Christian freedom and expression in this country. We will do all we can at the Christian Legal Centre to oppose such discrimination.
“Regrettably, our case load is increasing with councils issuing noise abatement notices as a means of curtailing or closing churches in London,” Kon said. “Success in this case sends out a clear message that this method will not work. These churches are vibrant and growing and play a critical part in their communities.”
Immanuel House of Worship in London, also has been silenced because the sound of its worship drew a complaint from a single Muslim neighbor. The church was targeted by a noise abatement order even though local government officials had tested – and approved – its sound plan.
Phoenix pastor convicted and sentenced
In the U.S., a battle over a church’s “noise” also developed in Phoenix, Arizona, where three worship centers now have brought legal action against the city after the Rev. Rick Painter of Christ the King Church was convicted and sentenced to three years probation and a 10-day suspended jail sentence for ringing his church’s electronic chimes.
A lawsuit was filed by the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of Painter and his congregation – and was joined by St. Mark’s Roman Catholic Parish and the First Christian Church . Their complaint notes that city officials wrote into the noise ordinance an exemption allowing ice cream trucks to play loud music but refused to include a similar exemption for church bells.
Nevertheless, Painter was convicted on the strength of one Muslim neighbor’s complaint.
“Churches shouldn’t be punished for ringing their church bells,” said attorney Erik Stanley. “The law is being abused to silence a form of worship that has peacefully sounded throughout the streets of our nation since its founding. No one should be sentenced to jail and probation for doing what churches have traditionally done throughout history, especially when the sound of the church’s bells does not exceed the noise level that the law allows for ice cream trucks.”
The Alliance Defense Fund earlier had battled in San Francisco over orders there that a team of Christians who were doing street theater and concerts turn down their volume. Christian evangelists who were preaching on street corners and in city parks were cited for their noise even though in one incident, authorities refused to cite another group that was using an 80-watt amplifier only 15 feet away from the Christians.
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