Pastors and staff at a Christian church in Louisiana were recently slapped with criminal sanctions and threatened with "physical arrest," but not for reasons you might think.
Rob Wilton, the lead pastor of Vintage Church in New Orleans, was issued a criminal summons in December of last year because his church's worship service volume exceeded 60 decibels, Jefferson Parish's noise ordinance.
Glenn Beck and conservative commentator David Barton researched that 60 decibel ordinance — which is said to be the average for casual conversation — Tuesday night on The Glenn Beck Program and found that the shower, dishwasher, television and hair dryer are all 10 times louder than the parish's limit.
Beck and Barton even tested an airplane toy that made jet noise. When tested, the toy registered more than 90 decibels.
"Think if they were coming into people's homes and telling them to turn their dishwasher off, or telling them to put that toy away," Liberty Institute lawyer Kelly Shackelford, who is representing the church, told Beck.
The frustrations arose August of last year when the church began renovations in their sanctuary and moved to a temporary enclosed outdoor tent, which is located in a subdivision. The church applied for the permit, and was allowed to erect the facility.
However, a local resident, whose home neighbors the church, said she could hear the church's service "throughout my home." In response to the initial disturbance, the church disconnected all of its amplification, even removing the pastor's microphone during his sermons, but that wasn't enough.
According to the Liberty Institute, the church's executive pastor Matthew Brichetto has been issued criminal sanctions, fingerprinted in front of the congregation twice and is considered to be under non-custodial arrest. The institute filed a lawsuit against Jefferson Parish Dec. 10, claiming the summons violates state- and federally-protected religious freedoms.
"These demands violate the Louisiana Preservation of Religious Freedom Act. This is illegal and must stop," a statement from the institute reads.
As it turns out, most noises are louder than the parish's sanctioned 60 decibel limit, including a washing machine, a toilet flushing, a lawnmower and even a telephone dial tone — all of which are permissible according to the parish's code.
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