Pastor behind bars for noisy services.

Pastor behind bars for noisy services. September 12, 2014

I know, I know…you read that title and think “What???  Shouldn’t they have given him a warning first?”  Well, the police did.  They warned him and fined him for two years.

Columbia Police officers have been called to the church more than 50 times for noise complaints. Neighbors said the noise coming from the musical equipment could be heard late into the evening and early in the morning, and permeated their home. The neighbors recorded some of the episodes as part of their evidence of the noise.

After two years their patience ran out.

The church has paid several of their fines for multiple violations of the city noise ordinance, but after the verdict, Clark must now not only pay money, but spend time behind bars.

Time for the pastor and his wife to go into full on persecution mode because the law applies to them:

“I can’t believe it, jail time, for serving God, what’s next,” said Pastor and First Lady Harriet Clark.

Strange that all other pastors in South Carolina aren’t being tossed in jail for “serving god.”  It’s almost like he was thrown in jail for violating the city’s noise laws.  It turns out you can preach without violating your neighbors’ right to peace and quiet at reasonable hours.  Who knew?

Back in June ,a judge granted an injunction that would prohibit the church from using sound amplifying devices like drums or microphones between 8PM and 8AM. On multiple occasions, officers were called to the church and said that the worship was too loud.

Documents show the church violated that injunction repeatedly.

“They are trying to tell us how not to worship. We have church at 7:30, so what does that mean we only have 30 minutes to worship? ” Clark says.

Well, yeah, they are telling you how to worship.  You can’t worship by throwing eggs at your neighbors’ houses, you can’t worship by prank calling your neighbors’, etc.  It’s obvious that your right to worship as you please ends when it starts infringing on others – and this includes blasting music at stadium volume.  Do you not think your congregation can hear just fine if everybody on the block can’t?

Borders believes that their rights are being violated because they can’t praise God in their own way. He says the real problem is that the city noise ordinance isn’t specific.

“It’s up to the neighbors to say if its irritating to them or a nuisance to them. Well you can get a weed eater and go outside and if someone complains nothing will be done, but when it comes to worshiping God its now a problem,” said Borders.

Except when complaints are filed the police (and, if necessary, later a judge) will determine if the complaint has merit.  I doubt it would be found that complaints of a mid-day weed-eater would be found to have merit (at midnight it might be a different story).  But all law enforcement officials involved apparently found, on several occasions, that the pastors of the church were being antagonistic of their neighbors (one can only wonder why Christian morality didn’t override the notion that being religious means you can be as big a dick as you please).

The church has owned the property for several years and thinks it’s not fair that they are being punished because of the close proximity to their neighbors.

Clark says the only solution is to soundproof the building, which will be very expensive.

“Everyone is just praying that this will be settled but the only way I know is to go through a lot of expenses to sound proof the church.”

Yeah, the only solution is to sound proof the building…because turning the volume down is just out of the question.

And remember: you’re only going to sound proof the building because praying for things to get better doesn’t work.

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